The Trump White House’s embrace of white nationalists within the halls of its administration was exposed in even greater depth this week when the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Michael Edison Hayden published an in-depth examination of the career of Julia Hahn, the current deputy communications director and a longtime ally of senior adviser Stephen Miller, whose own white nationalist ties were previously exposed by Hayden.
These are, moreover, hardly the only administration figures with extremist backgrounds—and as if to obscure the reality these reports substantiate, Trump’s defenders in the right-wing media are now attacking the journalists working to expose them by claiming that somehow they are actually part of a deep-state operation to “smear” Trump supporters. At least, that was the story Tucker Carlson was pitching on Fox News.
Julia Hahn’s current role at the White House at least partially entails helping press secretary Kayleigh McEnany prepare her press briefings, but she has held several jobs in the administration prior to this one, primarily as an aide to Trump himself. In that capacity, as Hayden reports, Hahn was involved in a behind-the-scenes campaign to defend Miller in 2017 from a flood of negative reports about his extremist background.
Prior to being hired by the White House, she had worked first as a producer for Fox News’ Laura Ingraham, who has her own history of promoting white nationalist themes. Somewhere around the end of her tenure there, she attended a writers workshop sponsored by an explicitly racist, white-nationalist publishing house, Social Contract Press—notorious for publishing the vile race-war screed, Camp of the Saints.
Her next job was at Breitbart News, where she contributed significantly to that online news site’s alt-right/white nationalist content, particularly during the years it was overseen by Trump’s former chief adviser, Stephen Bannon.
McHugh told Hatewatch that a white nationalist worldview pervaded Hahn’s work at Breitbart News. Hahn’s writing at Breitbart News, and emails about issues of race, like Miller’s private emails, which McHugh leaked to Hatewatch in 2019, consistently portray people of color and Muslims in an intensely negative light. Sometimes, they paint non-white people as violent and dangerous.
Hahn wrote McHugh a story pitch on July 12, 2016, under the subject line, “think you need to do a black on white crime #s story.”
“How many whites have been killed by blacks since Obama has been in office?” Hahn asked McHugh in the body of that email. McHugh did not reply to that email.
Hahn also apparently developed a close working relationship with Peter Brimelow—publisher of the openly nativist/white nationalist site VDare—during this time. And among her regular storylines, she assiduously promoted the Iowa congressional candidacy of white nationalist Paul Nehlen, particularly following his request for a “discussion” about physically removing every Muslim citizen from the U.S.
None of this is particularly new. Trump has empowered far-right white nationalist and conspiracy theorist elements within the walls of his administration, and pursued an agenda friendly to extremist elements, from the very beginning. Senior adviser Miller is the architect of Trump’s immigration policies (not to mention his eliminationist scare campaigns about immigrant caravans and refugees from the Middle East) whose deep ties to white nationalists were exposed last year by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The Trump administration has also been congenial to far-right conspiracy theorists. A National Security Council official, Rich Higgins, authored an internal memo in 2017, widely distributed within the administration, repeating white-nationalist claims that a broad conspiracy of globalists, Islamists, bankers, “Cultural Marxists,” and the “deep state” were actively undermining his presidency. Higgins was fired—a decision that reportedly infuriated Trump—and resurfaced recently as an appointee to the Pentagon.
Similarly, a Trump policy aide and speechwriter named Darren Beattie was fired in 2018 after it was discovered that he had appeared as a speaker for a white nationalist gathering, the H.L. Mencken Club conference, alongside Brimelow and other leading white nationalists. Beattie was known for his ardent support of Trump’s policy to ban travel from Muslim nations. (He later was hired by Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz of Florida as a speechwriter.)
Moreover, Trump’s resulting policy agenda has been a white nationalist’s dream, culiminating in such atrocities as the 545 immigrant children whose parents were permanently lost during separation proceedings at the border by Trump’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement policies.
The reality we are confronted with daily—that the United States (and the rest of the world, with no small assist from Russian interests) is awash in a tide of white nationalism and its attendant violence, and that moreover this tide has been enabled, encouraged, and empowered by Donald Trump, both on the streets of America and within his administration—is not something that can be erased with a sneer.
Yet the White House’s response to the SPLC was a straight-up denial of the facts contained in its report, a gaslighting-style assertion without evidence:
Julia Hahn rejects and condemns racism and hatred in all forms, and, as a Jewish American, finds bigotry of any kind to be truly abhorrent. Every story Julia wrote as a reporter at Breitbart is publicly available and has been since the day she left the publication nearly four years ago. These cherry-picked emails were leaked by a troubled individual who was terminated from Breitbart in disgrace, and SPLC has stooped to a new low by giving her a platform.
Attacking the sources of the information—rather than making any kind of substantive response to the information itself—has so far been the default response both by the White House and by its defenders in right-wing media to discussions of the white nationalists within the administration. The White House attacked the SPLC as an “an utterly-discredited, long-debunked far-left smear organization” who “libel, slander, and defame conservatives for a living,” for its report on Miller. Fox News, in the meantime, simply ignored the story altogether, giving it a total of 42 seconds of airtime.
The response at Fox News to the latest revelations has been a combination of the previous instances: It so far has completely ignored the Hahn revelations, instead going on the attack against journalists engaged in the investigative work of exposing the hidden white nationalists within the ranks of the Trump White House and its supporters.
Tucker Carlson led the parade on Wednesday with an attack on NBC News’ Brandy Zadrozny, who has been involved in important reportage on the spread of such far-right phenomena as the “Boogaloo”movement and the QAnon conspiracist cult. Carlson, of course, has already expended considerable energy calling the white nationalist threat a hoax concocted by liberals.
Carlson’s segment featured an interview with none other than Darren Beattie, the adviser/speechwriter with white-nationalist ties who had been earlier fired by the White House. Yet strangely, Carlson omitted any reference to that background whatsoever in the segment, instead presenting Beattie as simply a writer for the webzine Revolver News—which is in fact a far-right site, endorsed by Trump, that has called for shooting protesters (which also went unmentioned).
Instead, Carlson launched into an attack on Zadrozny, claiming that “her job is seeking out personally identifying information about anonymous Trump supporters online, some of them, and revealing their true identities.” Zadrozny’s sin, it seems, was simply being a good reporter: Carlson’s complaint was that she used public information sources to expose her subjects. Moreover, Carlson mischaracterized her work; Zadrozny does not merely expose generic Trump supporters, but rather far-right extremists who use social media to promote their conspiracy-fueled ideologies, often to disastrous effect, such as the anti-vax mom whose child died of the flu after she refused to give him Tamiflu that had been prescribed by a doctor.
Beattie—whose piece in Revolver similarly characterized Zadrozny as focused entirely on Trump supporters, describing her as an “ideological hit man”—told Carlson, “She’s up to no good.” He claimed Zadrozny’s work at NBC News is dedicated entirely to unearthing “anonymous Trump supporters, basically, to ruin their lives.”
But to Beattie, her work was only the tip of a much larger problem:
We see these journalists are not even acting as meaningful journalists. What they’re doing is acting as commissars, a neo-Stasi effectively, in order to crush the rebellion of the American people against their corrupt ruling class, associated with the victory of Donald Trump.
There’s one aspect of this story that’s even more disturbing than what you describe, and that is that Brandy Zadrozny uses this term “disinformation” as a pretext to go after Trump supporters and destroy their lives. I think as many viewers have seen, disinformation is this new buzzword, this new pretext used to silence Trump supporters. What’s especially dangerous about this is that it brings this force to bear in a national-security context. Disinformation is a national-security term. It invites the force of our own national-security to silence Trump supporters domestically. And it’s part of this trend we’re seeing of broader swaths of our own national-security apparatus being repurposed and redeployed domestically to silence, suppress, and destroy the energies associated with Donald Trump’s victory in 2016.
What Beattie does not mention, however, is that his piece was inspired because Zadrozny had inquired with him days before he published his attack on her about his role, and that of Revolver, in an online campaign to “Pizzagate” Joe Biden—that is, to accuse him of complicity in a global pedophilia ring, a la QAnon, as an outgrowth of the supposed cache of emails from his son, Hunter Biden, promoted by the New York Post this week.
Zadrozny published that story Thursday. In it, she reported that “the most significant boost for the child abuse conspiracy theories would come from a website founded in May that has been embraced by Trump surrogates: Revolver News.”
Neither Carlson nor Beattie mentioned any of this in their attack on Zadrozny—as indeed, any mention of the role of white nationalist support for Trump was utterly whitewashed out of the segment. Instead, the message was clear: Carlson, Fox News, and Trump’s entire cohort will instead personally attack the journalists who expose those connections.