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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.