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What Facebook Did to American Democracy - The Atlantic
And yet no one could quite put it all together: The dominant social network had altered the information and persuasion environment of the election beyond recognition while taking a very big chunk of the estimated $1.4 billion worth of digital advertising purchased during the election. There were hundreds of millions of dollars of dark ads doing their work. Fake news all over the place. Macedonian teens campaigning for Trump. Ragingly partisan media infospheres serving up only the news you wanted to hear. Who could believe anything? What room was there for policy positions when all this stuff was eating up News Feed space? Who the hell knew what was going on?
Facebook  politics  media  fakenews  AltRight  Breitbart  democracy  USA  Russia  TheAtlantic  2017 
october 2017 by inspiral
Here's How Breitbart And Milo Smuggled Nazi and White Nationalist Ideas Into The Mainstream
In August, after a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville ended in murder, Steve Bannon insisted that "there's no room in American society" for neo-Nazis, neo-Confederates, and the KKK.

But an explosive cache of documents obtained by BuzzFeed News proves that there was plenty of room for those voices on his website.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, under Bannon’s leadership, Breitbart courted the alt-right — the insurgent, racist right-wing movement that helped sweep Donald Trump to power. The former White House chief strategist famously remarked that he wanted Breitbart to be “the platform for the alt-right.”

The Breitbart employee closest to the alt-right was Milo Yiannopoulos, the site’s former tech editor known best for his outrageous public provocations, such as last year’s Dangerous Faggot speaking tour and September’s canceled Free Speech Week in Berkeley. For more than a year, Yiannopoulos led the site in a coy dance around the movement’s nastier edges, writing stories that minimized the role of neo-Nazis and white nationalists while giving its politer voices “a fair hearing.” In March, Breitbart editor Alex Marlow insisted “we’re not a hate site.” Breitbart’s media relations staff repeatedly threatened to sue outlets that described Yiannopoulos as racist. And after the violent white supremacist protest in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August, Breitbart published an article explaining that when Bannon said the site welcomed the alt-right, he was merely referring to “computer gamers and blue-collar voters who hated the GOP brand.”

These new emails and documents, however, clearly show that Breitbart does more than tolerate the most hate-filled, racist voices of the alt-right. It thrives on them, fueling and being fueled by some of the most toxic beliefs on the political spectrum — and clearing the way for them to enter the American mainstream.

It’s a relationship illustrated most starkly by a previously unreleased April 2016 video in which Yiannopoulos sings “America the Beautiful” in a Dallas karaoke bar as admirers, including the white nationalist Richard Spencer, raise their arms in Nazi salutes.

These documents chart the Breitbart alt-right universe. They reveal how the website — and, in particular, Yiannopoulos — links the Mercer family, the billionaires who fund Breitbart, to underpaid trolls who fill it with provocative content, and to extremists striving to create a white ethnostate.

They capture what Bannon calls his “killing machine” in action, as it dredges up the resentments of people around the world, sifts through these grievances for ideas and content, and propels them from the unsavory parts of the internet up to TrumpWorld, collecting advertisers’ checks all along the way.

And the cache of emails — some of the most newsworthy of which BuzzFeed News is now making public — expose the extent to which this machine depended on Yiannopoulos, who channeled voices both inside and outside the establishment into a clear narrative about the threat liberal discourse posed to America. The emails tell the story of Steve Bannon’s grand plan for Yiannopoulos, whom the Breitbart executive chairman transformed from a charismatic young editor into a conservative media star capable of magnetizing a new generation of reactionary anger. Often, the documents reveal, this anger came from a legion of secret sympathizers in Silicon Valley, Hollywood, academia, suburbia, and everywhere in between.

"I have said in the past that I find humor in breaking taboos and laughing at things that people tell me are forbidden to joke about," Yiannopoulos wrote in a statement to BuzzFeed News. "But everyone who knows me also knows I'm not a racist. As someone of Jewish ancestry, I of course condemn racism in the strongest possible terms. I have stopped making jokes on these matters because I do not want any confusion on this subject. I disavow Richard Spencer and his entire sorry band of idiots. I have been and am a steadfast supporter of Jews and Israel. I disavow white nationalism and I disavow racism and I always have.”

He added that during his karaoke performance, his "severe myopia" made it impossible for him to see the Hitler salutes a few feet away.

Steve Bannon, the other Breitbart employees named in the story, and the Mercer family did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Like all the new media success stories, Breitbart’s alt-right platform depends on the participation of its audience. It combusts the often secret fury of those who reject liberal norms into news, and it doesn’t burn clean.

Now Bannon is back at the controls of the machine, which he has said he is “revving up.” The Mercers have funded Yiannopoulos's post-Breitbart venture. And these documents present the clearest look at what these people may have in store for America.


A year and a half ago, Milo Yiannopoulos set himself a difficult task: to define the alt-right. It was five months before Hillary Clinton named the alt-right in a campaign speech, 10 months before the alt-right’s great hope became president, and 17 months before Charlottesville clinched the alt-right as a stalking horse for violent white nationalism. The movement had just begun its explosive emergence into the country’s politics and culture.

At the time, Yiannopoulos, who would later describe himself as a “fellow traveler” of the alt-right, was the tech editor of Breitbart. In summer 2015, after spending a year gathering momentum through GamerGate — the opening salvo of the new culture wars — he convinced Breitbart upper management to give him his own section. And for four months, he helped Bannon wage what the Breitbart boss called in emails to staff “#war.” It was a war, fought story by story, against the perceived forces of liberal activism on every conceivable battleground in American life.

Yiannopoulos was a useful soldier whose very public identity as a gay man (one who has now married a black man) helped defend him, his anti-political correctness crusade, and his employer from charges of bigotry.

But now Yiannopoulos had a more complicated fight on his hands. The left — and worse, some on the right — had started to condemn the new conservative energy as reactionary and racist. Yiannopoulos had to take back “alt-right,” to redefine for Breitbart’s audience a poorly understood, leaderless movement, parts of which had already started to resist the term itself.

So he reached out to key constituents, who included a neo-Nazi and a white nationalist.

“Finally doing my big feature on the alt right,” Yiannopoulos wrote in a March 9, 2016, email to Andrew “Weev” Auernheimer, a hacker who is the system administrator of the neo-Nazi hub the Daily Stormer, and who would later ask his followers to disrupt the funeral of Charlottesville victim Heather Heyer. “Fancy braindumping some thoughts for me.”

“It’s time for me to do my big definitive guide to the alt right,” Yiannopoulos wrote four hours later to Curtis Yarvin, a software engineer who under the nom de plume Mencius Moldbug helped create the “neoreactionary” movement, which holds that Enlightenment democracy has failed and that a return to feudalism and authoritarian rule is in order. “Which is my whorish way of asking if you have anything you’d like to make sure I include.”

“Alt r feature, figured you’d have some thoughts,” Yiannopoulos wrote the same day to Devin Saucier, who helps edit the online white nationalist magazine American Renaissance under the pseudonym Henry Wolff, and who wrote a story in June 2017 called “Why I Am (Among Other Things) a White Nationalist.”

The three responded at length: Weev about the Daily Stormer and a podcast called The Daily Shoah, Yarvin in characteristically sweeping world-historical assertions (“It’s no secret that North America contains many distinct cultural/ethnic communities. This is not optimal, but with a competent king it’s not a huge problem either”), and Saucier with a list of thinkers, politicians, journalists, films (Dune, Mad Max, The Dark Knight), and musical genres (folk metal, martial industrial, ’80s synthpop) important to the movement. Yiannopoulos forwarded it all, along with the Wikipedia entries for “Alternative Right” and the esoteric far-right Italian philosopher Julius Evola — a major influence on 20th-century Italian fascists and Richard Spencer alike — to Allum Bokhari, his deputy and frequent ghostwriter, whom he had met during GamerGate. “Include a bit of everything,” he instructed Bokhari.

“Bannon, as you probably know, is sympathetic to much of it.”
“I think you’ll like what I’m cooking up,” Yiannopoulos wrote to Saucier, the American Renaissance editor.

“I look forward to it,” Saucier replied. “Bannon, as you probably know, is sympathetic to much of it.”

Five days later Bokhari returned a 3,000-word draft, a taxonomy of the movement titled “ALT-RIGHT BEHEMOTH.” It included a little bit of everything: the brains and their influences (Yarvin and Evola, etc.), the “natural conservatives” (people who think different ethnic groups should stay separate for scientific reasons), the “Meme team” (4chan and 8chan), and the actual hatemongers. Of the last group, Bokhari wrote: “There’s just not very many of them, no-one really likes them, and they’re unlikely to achieve anything significant in the alt-right.”

“Magnificent start,” Yiannopoulos responded.


Alamy; Getty Images (2); Gage Skidmore, Cardsplayer4life, Weev, BIM, Tracy White / Wikimedia; YouTube (2)
Over the next three days, Yiannopoulos passed the article back to Yarvin and the white nationalist Saucier, the latter of whom gave line-by-line annotations. He also sent it to Vox Day, a writer who was expelled from the board of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America for calling a black writer an “ignorant savage… [more]
MiloYiannopoulos  AltRight  Nazis  Breitbart  db  Media  Right 
october 2017 by walt74
Here's How Breitbart And Milo Smuggled White Nationalism Into The Mainstream
Raking over the emails and texts, building a picture of how Breitbart and Milo Yiannopoulos brought white supremacism into the mainstream.
politics  whitesupremacy  racism  altright  2016uselection  stevebannon  milo  breitbart  Trump 
october 2017 by robmiller
Andy Baio on Auerbach
Personal run-ins with a reporter named in the Breitbart article
auerbach  gamergate  politics  breitbart 
october 2017 by nelson
Inside Breitbart
Details of how the alt right operates, from Milo Yiannopoulos's private email
milo  breitbart  politics  media  news 
october 2017 by nelson

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