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WND Is Proud Of The Proud Boys

WorldNetDaily has worked hard to downplay the violent extremism of the Proud Boys and actions by group members during the Capitol riot -- and it's even reprinting dishonest articles from the discredited Gateway Pundit to pump them up.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 10/16/2023

Art Moore

WorldNetDaily has something of an affinity for violent extremist groups and trying to downplay their violent extremism -- and a particular soft spot for the Proud Boys.

When the right-wing thugs in the Proud Boys after they were suggested to be white supremacists during the first 2020 presidential debate, WND -- which has long dabbled in white nationalism -- came to its defense in an October 2020 article by Art Moore:

The national leader of the Proud Boys – a black-Hispanic American – said Wednesday that Joe Biden made a mistake during the presidential debate by casting his group as white supremacist.

"We've been called many names," said Enrique Tarrio in an interview with Britain's Sky News, "and probably the most inaccurate name you can call us is white supremacists, as your viewers can see."


Tarrio's group says it officially rejects white supremacy. In November 2018, after media reported the FBI had classified the Proud Boys as an extremist group with ties to white nationalism, bureau officials held a briefing denying the claim.

The FBI agents said it was not their intent to classify the entire group but to characterize a possible threat from certain individuals. However, the agents suggested using the website of the discredited Southern Poverty Law Center as a resource. The SPLC has broadly labeled people who hold traditional views on subjects such as marriage as "extremists" or members of "hate groups."

Interestingly, that's the only reference Moore makes regarding what the Proud Boys actually are, and his pre-emptive dismissal of the SPLC fact sheet on the Proud Boys is suspicious. According to the SPLC, the Proud Boys do, in fact, have white nationalist leanings, Tarrio's ethnicity notwithstanding, with group founder Gavin McInnes having racist-right views. They are probably better known for their misogyny and Islamophobia, as well as their violence. But Moore didn't see fit to mention any of that stuff. Very strange.

Moore also played cleanup for President Trump for telling the Proud Boys to "stand back and stand by": "Trump's use of the term 'stand by' was interpreted by media as an order for the Proud Boys to be on alert for further instructions. But Trump, as was indicated in his remarks to reporters Wednesday, apparently meant to affirm the term Wallace used, 'stand down.'"

This was followed the next day with an anonymously written article on how McInnes is threatening to sue Joe Biden and media outlets for calling the Proud Boys white supremacists. Not only did WND ignore the Proud Boys' and McInnes' white nationalist pasts, it laughably and counterfactually touted how the group "portrays itself as a patriotic counterbalance to Antifa."

In a November 2020 article, Matt Keener wrote about how he "talked with Enrique Tarrio – the Afro-Cuban leader of Proud Boys – on camera about how his group became a lightning rod in the 2020 election" during a trip to the Million MAGA March:

Aside from that, if your only familiarity with the group is Chris Wallace and Joe Biden teaming up to ask the president to condemn white supremacy yet again, specifically the Proud Boys, during the first debate, then there is one thing that immediately comes to your attention when you see this "white supremacist" group.

There are quite a few people of color in their ranks.

Indeed, as I approached Tarrio, he was joking around, apparently drinking a beer and hugging a fellow group member who is black.

I spoke with Tarrio on camera about how on earth the Proud Boys came to be a focal point of this year's election.

Keener gave Tarrio a pass in letting him handwave the group's history of violence:

Tarrio pulls no punches when asked about how the Proud Boys are portrayed or if they are misunderstood.

"We're not this violent f–ing group of guys – we're not. Can we be violent?" he asks rhetorically. "Absolutely so. Are we good at self-defense? Yes sir. But we don't – we had 250 Proud Boys on the streets today. But they didn't board up businesses because we came into town. They're boarding up businesses when the left are the ones that get together."

Tarrio explained how he handles the perception or claims they are a white supremacist or hate group.

"I'm not concerned about the people that hate us or call us white supremacists. I really don't give a s–t about them. All right? Because they're not reasonable. So I don't try to reason with them. I don't try to argue with them. I avoid them," he says, before adding, "The people that don't know who we are – or somebody that thinks that we're something but isn't 100% sure? Those people I reach out to. Because we're not a white supremacist group."

Keener failed to report that the Proud Boys are, indeed, a violence-driven group. Since then, Tarrio admitted to burning a Black Lives Matter banner he stole from a church a month later, and he falsely claimed he was invited to the White House (turns out he just took the regular public tour).

All this stuff was interspersed with rants from Keener like this:

You can call yourself "woke," but if you are canceling, censoring, eliminating, or assaulting someone based on who they voted for, you are misguided. It is you who is the oppressor.

You can call the Proud Boys white supremacist, but the leader of the group and several members are black and brown. I saw them with my own eyes.

The media manipulate and lie to you.

Look around. Use your eyes.

The emperor has no clothes.

And no one wants to say it.

Keener has a bright future as a WND columnist ... if WND survives long enough, that is.

After the Capitol riot, though, WND starting having second thoughts about the Proud Boys -- albeit to protect Donald Trump. The day after several Proud Boys leaders were charged with seditious conspiracy for their roles in the Capitol riot, WND's Art Moore devoted a June 2022 article to trying to parse the words of Donald Trump in telling the Proud Boys to "stand by" during a debate:

The Biden Justice Department's charges this week of seditious conspiracy against five members of the Proud Boys group suggests the Jan. 6 committee's televised hearings will feature reruns of President Trump saying "stand by" during a 2020 campaign debate as purported evidence of an organized plot.

The FBI found no evidence of any coordinated conspiracy to overthrow the election, Reuters reported last August. But Democrats and establishment media continue to call a riot that disrupted Republican efforts to use the constitutional process for Congress to certify Electoral College votes an "insurrection."


After the Sept. 29, 2020, debate, establishment media took Trump's use of the term "stand by" to mean the Proud Boys should wait for his command to attack. But Trump clearly meant "stand down," as he explained to reporters the next day. It was the term moderator Chris Wallace used in his question. And it was Wallace who invoked the Proud Boys as he prodded Trump to denounce white supremacists – which the president had done many times before and which he did at that time during the debate, contrary to the media's headlines.

Moore is WND's leading purveyor of the "Charlottsville lie" lie.

Moore then rehashed his earlier article letting Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio defend himself, then moved on to the task at hand of trying to discredit the House committee looking into the riot, invoking its new favorite fraudulent filmmaker to do so:

Filmmaker Dinesh D'Souza contended Tuesday that the True the Vote investigation of illegal ballot trafficking in the 2020 election presented hard data that "has blown up" the committee's "underlying premise."

"The 'big lie' turns out to be a documented truth," he said, referencing his film "2000 Mules." "The 2020 election was demonstrably stolen by the Democrats. Patriots came to DC on January 6 to complain about that!"

So it seems Moore is throwing the Proud Boys under the right-wing bus in order to deal with issues that currently fit the needs of its right-wing, pro-Trump agenda. Poor Enrique.

A July 2022 article by Bob Unruh complaining about the Capitol riot hearings bizarrely insisted that the Proud Boys, like the Oath Keepers, "mostly have acted in patriotic situations" while serving up this oddly benign description of events that day:

Hundreds went into the Capitol that day to express their distrust of the 2020 presidential election results. Some rioted, doing vandalism and such. And as of now, hundreds have been charged with offenses like trespassing and entering a closed government building, and many have remained behind bars without bond since their arrests.

Charges most prominently have been filed against members of several groups that mostly have acted in patriotic situations, like Oath Keepers and Proud Boys.

"Vandalism and such"? yes, assaulting police officers has been downgraded as "such" and less of a big deal than vandalism, as far as Unruh is concerned.

(Moore used a September 2022 article to defend Alaskan lawmaker in trouble for his affiliation with the Oath Keepers, uncritically repeating the lawmaker's claim that he joined the group "as a commitment to uphold his oath to the Constitution," though "there is no Oath Keepers chapter in Alaska, and he has never been to a meeting." But Moore also noted: "He did travel to Washington on Jan. 6, he said, to show support for President Trump and the legal effort to contest the election results, and never went to the Capitol.")

But as members of the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys went on trial for their roles in the Capitol riot, WND stayed largely silent. WND gave attention to the arrest of Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes in early 2022 on seditious conspiracy charges, with one article gave space to a conspiracy theorist to rant about why it took a year to arrest him, and a June 2022 article hyped Rhodes claiming from prison that "the partisan committee set up by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi lied to the American people" about the riot. The September 2022 article by Moore defending the Alaskan lawmaker noted as a aside that "Rhodes acknowledges a handful of Oath Keepers who 'went totally off mission' did enter the Capitol." But it offered no original coverage of Rhodes' trial, and even his conviction on seditious conspiracy charges in November was noted only by a wire article it stole from the Associated Press.

Similarly, WND offered no original coverage of the trial of several Proud Boys members earlier this year, but its writers started weighing in after the defendants were convicted. Peter LaBarbera fretted in a May 4 article that the convictions could lead to Trump being prosecuted for instigating the riot, which LaBarbera downgraded to a "melee":

Critics and supporters of Donald Trump said the government's successful prosecution of four "Proud Boys" J6 protesters on "seditious conspiracy" charges in a Washington, D.C. court could pave the way for him being criminally prosecuted in the same, Democrat-friendly court system.

After seven days of deliberation, a D.C. jury containing members with openly leftist sympathies Thursday found ex-Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tarrio and three other other members of the anti-left group guilty of "seditious conspiracy" and other related charges for their actions in the "Stop the Steal" melee on Jan. 6, 2021 at the nation's Capitol.

"The legal maximum penalty for either seditious conspiracy or obstruction charges is 20 years in prison," the Washington Post reported. Further details of the ruling can be found at, which called the verdict a "highly politicized miscarriage of justice."

Julie Kelly, the leading conservative pundit chronicling what she calls the Biden administration's "abusive" J6 prosecutions and extremely harsh treatment of J6 prisoners, tweeted Thursday: "A rogue judge, dirty prosecutors, and biased DC jury just handed Merrick Garland's handpicked special prosecutor the biggest gift of his career: a roadmap to indict Trump on seditious conspiracy and other crimes."

LaBarbera then complained that "Liberal corporate media leaned heavily on the left's "violent insurrection" narrative to report on the Proud Boys conviction and huffed that there was "extreme bias" during the trial.

LaBarbera's article was illustrated by a smiling photo of Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio taken by Keener's fawning November 2020 profile of Tarrio designed to counter (accurate) perceptions of the group as a bunch of white supremacists.

Rachel Alexander -- who usually sticks to manufacturing conspiracy theories about Arizona elections -- attacked the convictions in her May 8 column, similarly fretting that Trump might be next:

Five Proud Boys were convicted by a jury last week for criminal acts related to Jan. 6, 2021, but no one really believes they did anything more violent than BLM and Antifa. Thousands of the latter cases involving violence have been dismissed. U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Kelly allowed the Proud Boys to be portrayed to the heavily biased jury using language selected for its incendiary value to portray a distorted picture, including telling the jury about actions by others that weren't even taken by the five.

It didn't help that the mainstream media includes language in most articles about J6 as "storming the Capitol" instead of a "mostly peaceful protest." The five could have easily done the latter, because they brought no weapons, assaulted no officers, and Proud Boy leader Enrique Tarrio wasn't even at J6.

Prosecutors repeatedly played clips of Donald Trump in an effort to manipulate the Trump-hating jury. Trump said, "Stand back and stand by" and encouraged supporters to come to J6 with, "It will be wild." Neither of those sound like a call to violence; Trump frequently talks in hyperbole. But one juror admitted afterward when asked why he voted to convict, that Trump's remarks were "part of it."

Alexander then insisted that Tarrio's call to his followers of "whatever happens ... make it a spectacle" -- arguably evidence of premeditation -- was meaningless: "Tarrio's instruction to create a 'spectacle' at the Capitol was used to make jurors think he intended violence – but the Proud Boys are well-known for their pattern of reacting to violence, not starting it." She then tried to claim that the lack of violent reaction to the convictions somehow proved that the right isn't violent:

It's now being ignored that there was no violent reaction across the country in response to the verdicts. The irony here is that it's really the left that engages in violence when they don't get their way; the facts have to be distorted and provocateurs planted within right-wing protests to attempt to portray the right as violent.

The Proud Boys may not be the preferred style for most folks on the right. But that's why the left is targeting them; it's easier to distort their actions and fit them into a crime than it is the rest of us, so left-wing prosecutors are picking them off to establish precedents that are a gross abuse of the law, precedents that can then be used against anyone on the right.

Never mind, of course, that Alexander herself is distorting people's actions and trying to fit them into a crime by invoking Black Lives Matter and Antifa as shorthand for alleged violence on "the left."

Helping a Proud Boy play victim

As part of WND's dishonest portrayal of Capitol riot participants as victims, a May 15 article by Bob Unruh defended a Proud Boy:

A Jan. 6 prisoner is demanding House Speaker Kevin McCarthy release all of the Capitol surveillance video that he promised to make public.

It was about four months ago that McCarthy vowed to release all of the footage as the Republican Party took control of the House when it was elected into the majority.

The Gateway Pundit commented, "Here we are now, 5 months into House Republicans’ reign of Congress, and nothing is happening."

The report explained prisoner Dominic Pezzola called the Pundit to express his anger.

"He still hasn’t let it out. They are just all talk. They don’t care about us," Pezzola said. "If we don’t get up and get off our a***s and grow a set, it’s going to be too late for our way of life. If it doesn’t affect you right now, someday, your children are going to school in between learning about proper pronouns and transgender studies, they are going to be learning about the ancient conservatives that are now extinct that used to roam the plains of the flyover country that had to be eradicated by the left because they were a threat to socialism and communism."

He charged, "How dare [McCarthy] call himself a Republican. You say you work for us? Everyone knows that January 6 was a complete set-up. There are feds, there are informants and there’s Antifa — I mean, there is everything you can imagine in there."
It wasn't until the 20th paragraph that Unruh quoted the far-right Gateway Pundit to describe what Pezzola was accused of: "Pezzola, who joined the Proud Boys 30 days prior to January 6, was acquitted of a seditious conspiracy charge but convicted of other charges, including robbery of government property and assaulting, resisting, or impeding an officer." And Unruh didn't mention what, exactly, Pezzola did: he stole a riot shield from a Capitol Police officer and used it to smash out the glass in a Capitol window after another rioter threw a piece of wood through it. Pezzola later bragged in a selfie video he was smoking a “victory smoke” cigar as he said “I knew we could take this (expletive) if we just tried hard enough.”

Unruh went on to uncritically repeat the Gateway Pundit claiming that "constitutional experts confirm the GOP-led House has the power to assure J6 defendants of due process, or even set them free," citing "Article I Section 8 Clause 17 of the U.S. Constitution." In fact, that clause simply establishes that the federal government can control federal buildings and has nothing whatsoever to do with criminal proceedings.

Direct dishonesty from Gateway Pundit

WND eventually decided to cut out the middleman -- and take things to a new, wildly dishonest level -- by simply republishing what the highly discredited Gateway Pundit says about the Proud Boys. A republished Aug. 3 article was written by onetime WND reporter Alicia Powe under the even more dishonest headline "J6 political prisoner faces 10 to 12 years in prison for walking into Capitol for a few minutes":

Zachary Rehl, a J6 political prisoner and former Proud Boys leader who was found guilty of seditious conspiracy, vows to fight for his innocence until he is “fully exonerated and so no one has to live in fear of persecution for exercising their 1st Amendment rights again.”

The 37-year-old Marine Corps veteran was apprehended by the Federal Bureau of Investigations on April 17, 2021, for “his role in the Capitol riot.” His wife was six months pregnant when the bureau’s stormtroopers terrorized their home in a pre-dawn raid — the shock and trauma that nearly resulted in the loss of their unborn baby.

On January 6, Rehl committed no violent crimes.

Rehl and his co-defendants, two-time purple heart recipient Stf. Sgt. Joseph Biggs and Washington Proud Boys leader Ethan Nordean merely walked into the Capitol building for approximately 20 minutes after choking on clouds of tear gas and dodging the rubber bullets and flash grenades police indiscriminately fired at the crowd of unarmed protesters.

Enrique Tarrio, the former national chairman of the Proud Boys and another of Rehl’s co-defendants found guilty of seditious conspiracy, ie. thoughtcrime, is the only J6 political prisoner who wasn’t even in Washington, DC on January 6 during the Capitol riot.

Powe is lying. Rehl didn't merely walk around the Capitol "for a few minutes" -- he assaulted law enforcement by spraying a chemical irritant at them, lied about doing that during his trial, broke into a senator's office where he smoked and posed for pictures, then expressed pride for the Proud Boys assault he helped lead afterwards in a message to his mother: ""Seems like our raid of the capital set off a chain reaction of events throughout the country."

But rather then tell her readers the truth, Powe continued to dishonestly portray Rehl as a victim and the Proud Boys as nothing but a "drinking fraternity":

Rehl has been incarcerated for two and half years, most of which has been in isolation in a six by eight-foot cell at the Alexandria Detention Center. In June, he and his co-defendants were finally released from solitary confinement and are currently housed in the “patriot pod” of the DC Gulag.

Organizing patriotic events in Philadelphia, including the “March for Trump,” “Back the Blue” demonstrations and rallies to “Celebrate the Constitution at the Liberty Bell” led to Rehl becoming Philadelphia’s leader of the Proud Boys, a drinking fraternity that was prompted to safeguard patriots at free speech and prayer rallies as they constantly fended off violent attacks from fascist Antifa anarchists.

For his leadership in the Proud Boys, a conservative group demonized as “xenophobic” by the corporate press, and his military service, Rehl faces more severe retribution by the DOJ.

Powe also included a self-serving letter by Rehl to the Gateway Pundit in which he "describes how he cultivated courage and resilience through the tragic loss of his father when he was just 12, the nationwide “brotherhood” he found as leader of the Proud Boys after his service in the Marine Corps and how emerging victorious in the fight for his freedom will prevent every American from being persecuted for exercising their God-given, inalienable rights."

When Rehl was sentenced, WND once again to Powe, reprinting another wildly dishonest article on Sept. 1 rehashing per previous false claims and insisting that he was sentenced merely "for being in the wrong place at the wrong time — walking through the Capitol building for approximately 20 minutes during the Capitol riot on Jan. 6." She went on to rage:

These evil men in Washington D.C. condemned Zachary Rehl, a young father and Marine veteran, to prison for attending a rally and walking in the open doors at the U.S. Capitol.

This is the definition of evil.

We can no longer fool ourselves. The America we once knew is long gone. We now live under the boot of the regime.

The role that Rehl and Tarrio, Nordean, and Biggs played in “organizing” the Jan. 6, 2021 “attack” on the U.S. Capitol “threatened the bedrock principles of our country’ and warranted the significant punishment,” government lawyers argued in a court filing late Thursday.


Zachary Rehl cried today on the stand before his sentencing. They are going to destroy this man and his family.

They forced this man to repent in his struggle session.

Why shouldn't a violent criminal face accountability for his crimes? Powe was not interested in answering that question. She also didn't consider the likelihood that Rehl's tears were self-pity for having to face that accountability.

One more point: If WND is republishing wildly dishonest articles like this -- from a far-right website that is currently being sued for defaming election workers by falsely accusing them of adding election ballots from a suitcase -- what does it say about WND's commitment to journalism? Nothing good. It merely shows that WND still hasn't learned the lesson that its longtime embrace of fake news and conspiracy theories caused its current and ongoing precarious financial situation.

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