Fox News host Laura Ingraham on Thursday argued in defense of, among others, Paul Nehlen, the former Republican congressional contender who’s advertised himself openly as a white nationalist and anti-Semite.
In a discussion of social media censorship with Candace Owens, Ingraham put up a graphic of several people who’d been banned from social media platforms. “Facebook now, what do they monitor? ‘Hate’?” That “sounds good,” Ingraham said, before asserting that “hate” really describes “people who believe in border enforcement, people who believe in national sovereignty.”
“These are some of the people they’ve shunned,” she said, as Nehlen’s face flashed on screen alongside others’. His inclusion was notable, given his record of extremism.
After this article was published, Fox News sent a statement to TPM that “it is obscene to suggest that Laura Ingraham was defending Paul Nehlen’s despicable actions.”
Ingraham drew “some of the names on the graphic” from a recent AP story, the network said, adding: “Anyone who watches Laura’s show knows that she is a fierce protector of freedom of speech and the intent of the segment was to highlight the growing trend of unilateral censorship in America.”
Nehlen rose to prominence in 2016, when he ran a primary challenge against then-House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI). Though he ran far to the right of Ryan, saying he opposed things like Ryan’s “globalist agenda,” Nehlen hadn’t yet gone full David Duke.
Nehlen earned a shoutout from then-GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, and ended up with 16 percent of the primary vote, placing second. He ran again in 2018, winning over 11 percent of Republican primary voters.
Between those two failed campaigns, Nehlen emerged as an icon for the racist far-right. Here’s what we know about him.
He’s a bigot and white nationalist, and hasn’t tried to hide it
Any discussion of Paul Nehlen’s white nationalist beliefs risks becoming redundant. After his 2016 GOP primary loss to Ryan, Nehlen let loose, referring frequently to the JQ, or “Jewish Question,” on his social media pages.
BuzzFeed reported on a secret Twitter group Nehlen used to attack his critics. “There are a list of goys attacking me, and a separate list of Jews,” he told the group at one point. Referring to a critic who he said was “working for Jewish media” and others, Nehlen said “I’m going to decimate them all … and y’[all are gonna help me.”
In response to the article, Nehlen posted pictures of journalists and media executives with Jewish stars on their faces, which, at least as a ledger of Jews in media, was pretty inaccurate anyway. At one point he compiled a list of his critics on Twitter pointing out that “of those 81 people, 74 are Jews.”
Nehlen did an interview with Duke, the former KKK grand wizard, pushing the tired anti-Semitic line that “Jews control the media.” In another interview, he wouldn’t say whether he believed the Holocaust actually happened, saying only that “a lot of people died at the hands of Nazis.” He also appeared on the white nationalist “Red Ice” network.
In an interview on the extremist “Goy Talk” podcast — yes it’s real — Nehlen and host Patrick Little debated ways to start a race war. Nehlen said that while whites needn’t start a race war —it could start with “another one of those fucked up Jussie Smollett situations,” he said — he asserted: “I’m not opposed to somebody, say, leadin’ a million Robert Bowers to the promised land.”
Bowers is the anti-Semite who killed 11 people at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue last year.
Like Trump before him, in November 2017 Nehlen called for a “total halt to Muslim immigration” to the United States.
Yes, Facebook (and other social media platforms) have banned him
Nehlan was banned from Twitter last February after he tweeted a racist photoshopped image of British royal Meghan Markle. He was banned from Facebook earlier this month, alongside Alex Jones, Louis Farrakhan, Milo Yiannopoulos and others.
Facebook said of the bans: “We’ve always banned individuals or organizations that promote or engage in violence and hate, regardless of ideology. The process for evaluating potential violators is extensive and it is what led us to our decision to remove these accounts today.”
Nehlen was even banned from the white-nationalist-friendly Gab, another social media platform, for “doxxing” a fellow white nationalist.
Politicians and news outlets agree: The dude is a racist
The New York Times called Nehlen “a white nationalist and anti-Semite” last April. The previous year, Breitbart News’ Washington political editor, Matthew Boyle, noted that Nehlen had “made a number of clearly anti-Semitic and white nationalist comments.” “He’s gone off the deep end,” Breitbart Editor-at-Large Joel Pollak tweeted in December 2017.
The Wisconsin Republican Party has dubbed him persona non-grata, too, saying “Nehlen and his ideas have no place in the Republican Party.” State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) said “he’s a racist bigot.”