The Alt Right currently holds a symbiotic relationship with the mainstream press: they are both interested and repelled by us; we are repelled by them, yet interested in the communicative power that their platform affords us. With the Alt Right’s rise from relative obscurity to international notoriety in six months, this is worth exploring. Could it be that quoting leading Alt Right figures gives them “permission” to explore ideas which they, in their heart of hearts, know to be true? Or is their coverage of us more akin to gaping at a car accident: “Behold these unacceptable views.” In fact, I would argue that there has been a spate of reasonably fair reportage.
The adage proves true: all press is good press. Just be sure they spell our name right: “Alt Right” — not “white supremacy” or any other term from the past. These labels are perhaps applicable to less sophisticated expressions of White identity that may indeed persist to this day, but hardly describe our factually and scientifically based worldview.
The AP issued a writers’ guideline in which they insisted that Alt Right be put in scare quotes and modified by “white supremacist” and other terms that have connotations which are simply not reflective of our personal aesthetic. Other left-wing news outlets refuse to use the term at all because it “sanitizes” our truly awful beliefs. Yet some of the most liberal papers have explicitly stated that they will continue to use the term. The Guardian admirably affirmed that it would continue to use “Alt Right”:
It was agreed that the use of “Alt Right” should not be banned because it exists as a term that is used in the world and it is the media’s job to describe and reflect the world as it is. That said, it should reflect the world—including the Alt Right—accurately, hence the requirement for a description to be used at first mention.
The first part of that statement in particular shows a surprisingly sober view of the media’s role vis-à-vis the Alt Right, and the media’s role more broadly. Also in this vein, The NY Times explains why “white supremacist” actually does not describe us very well: “The word implies a claim to superiority,” which most on the Alt Right do really make a point of claiming. They admit, “There is no catchall term for them.” They continue to parse the word “racist” as it applies to our movement in a thoughtful way, rather than as an adjective which is self-referencing and discussion-ending. We can hardly say that is unjust, when they are so careful as to confer with the Alt Right members themselves as to what our label should be.
We have been afforded relatively fair treatment insofar as many outlets have allowed our “representatives” to define our movement in their own terms, rather than being taken out of context as we might have expected. Of course these views are framed as unacceptable and sinister—often with quotes from the despicable Heidi Beirich or Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center—but that is only par for the course. Our ideas fall outside the zeitgeist, so it’s inevitable that mainstream publications include opponents of our views. But quite often these days our views are accurately described in the MSM, and for every reader who is aghast at our “extremism” and takes comfort in the attacks by our enemies, there is another reader who, sick of the anti-White hostility that is so typical of the identity politics of Blacks and Latinos and so common in the media, resonates to our message of identity politics for White people. Dare I say that we are being afforded some respect?
This appears to be the case because the elite publications realize the significance of our ideas, and they understand that White identity was a factor among at least some of the voters who supported Donald Trump. So while a columnist from the NY Times is very unlikely to secretly agree with us, they at least realize that at this juncture in history there is a certain import to our message, and that as such, we need to be taken seriously. Or as the NY Times puts it:
The Alt Right is not a large movement, but the prominence that it is enjoying in the early days of the Trump era may tell us something about the way that the country is changing. At least since the end of the cold war, and certainly since the election of the first black president, America’s shifting identity—both political, cultural, and racial—has given rise to many questions about who we are as a nation. But one kind of answer has been off the table: the suggestion that America’s multicultural present might, in any way, be a come down from its past became a taboo. This year a candidate broke it […] And he won the presidency.
Are we not at just such a crossroads in terms of the national identity? Again, I think it is a fair assessment, even if they (obviously) don’t agree with our ideas; they realize the relevance and the implications of our ideas to the current time. The Alt Right is the only intellectual perspective that articulates White identity, and it’s no surprise that traditional conservative publications are being forced to rethink their direction in the era of Trump, with Bill Kristol and Jonah Goldberg resigning their positions at The Weekly Standard and National Review respectively. When you go all in against Trump and lose, there are consequences.
It is true that the MSM has an ulterior motive in covering the Alt Right; namely, to tie us to Donald Trump, and thereby tarnish his brand. But so what? Their motivations are not necessarily relevant. And sometimes they are correct about the association (unofficial, of course) between the Alt Right and Donald Trump. As the Washington Post notes, Trump’s “attacks on undocumented immigrants, Muslims and political correctness deeply resonated with [the Alt Right].” The media’s spurious association of Steve Bannon with the Alt Right is neither here nor there. If Bannon has a seat at the table of power, that is all the better, notwithstanding that he is not what we would call an Alt Right figure. Their smearing of Bannon by associating him with the Alt Right does not appear to damage him or us—or Trump, for that matter.
So to those who revile the MSM and revile those on our side who would communicate with them, I say you never know if your efforts are futile if you never try. The worst they can do is call us “extreme.” The NY Times describes us as “an informal and ill-defined collection of internet-based radicals.” Why, that’s us! They can portray Richard Spencer as on the fringe, but the ideas are out there, they are powerful, and the time is ripe for them to bear fruit.
We can and will be taken out of context and the actions of a few will be used to smear the whole movement (#salutegate being a rather notorious example), but at some point, they have to report what we are actually saying, for better or worse. Alt Right leaders such as Spencer have been quoted at length in many MSM outlets over the last few months, and I don’t see any harm done—quite the contrary. Certainly some caution is warranted, considering rampant media bias even against mainstream conservatives; but we are something so apart that the media seems to approach us in an altogether different manner, as they would an extra-terrestrial.
The MSM is used to playing their cat-and-mouse game with mainstream conservatives: the media calls them racists, conservatives furiously respond with counterexamples, and if they’re feeling especially feisty, will in turn accuse liberals of being “the real racists.” We, on the other hand, have the media somewhat on their heels. The old slurs are not working.
The Alt Right’s “foreignness” to the normal political universe affords us more objective treatment in some quarters than we might have otherwise expected. The left-wing political/media complex has tried to approach us more confrontationally, putting us in a basket of deplorables and so forth; but that tended to implicate many millions of other Americans by proxy. Indeed, attacking the Alt Right was the moment when the Clinton campaign self-imploded, whether it was recognized as such at the time or not. So now they know, we are not to be trifled with.
Enough with the pessimism and cynicism. Yes, the media will misrepresent us; but that’s to be expected and people have less and less trust in the media. We just have to keep putting our best foot forward and hope for the best. We should take inspiration from Trump himself. His rivals complained that he was given billions worth of “free media,” and it’s obvious that a very large amount of this coverage was negative and misrepresented him. Look where he is now.
So one hopes that our influence spreads as much as possible in this diffuse media environment, and that those with the initiative and aptitude will continue to represent us in the best light possible to the elite publications. To those who are brave enough to be public figures in the Alt Right, thank you for putting a good face on our political movement.
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