April 25, 2017

Right Richter: The Culinary Trials of Alex Jones

Turmoil continues to stir up the right-wing media this week, with Bill O'Reilly bumped from Fox and a certain British provocateur hungry for a comeback. 
 
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Alex Jones versus yogurt: Arch InfoWars conspiracy theorist Alex Jones may have avoided a lawsuit by apologizing for his role in Pizzagate, but now Greek yogurt purveyor Chobani is suing him instead.
 
In a new complaint, Chobani accuses Jones of trying to tie the Idaho company, which has earned a reputation for employing refugees, to an unrelated potential sexual assault. Chobani has long found itself a surprising target
 
Alex Jones versus chili: It's a good week for Jones's lawyers. As Jones faces the Chobani lawsuit, his custody trial prepares to enter its second week, with the issue of whether he's just doing an act at the heart of it.
 
Jones certainly hasn't been downplaying his persona for the trial, boasting over the weekend that he had "had over 150" by age 16.
 
Even stranger, when pressed on an earlier claim that he could really forget things about his kids because he'd eaten a lot of chili, Jones clarified that he could if it was a "big bowl of chili." 
 
Right-wing media reacts to Bill O'Reilly's career demise: Fox megastar Bill O'Reilly finally got the boot at the network, two weeks after he began a conveniently timed vacation following a New York Times report on settlements he and Fox made with women who accused him of harassment.
 
It's been interesting to see the right-wing media's reaction, as it always is when a major figure on their side is dealt an indisputable blow. Often the response is to complain about how the information got out, like how conservative media stories about the firing of national security adviser Michael Flynn focused most on who leaked his name to the press. 
 
Breitbart took up this line, with their lead story on O'Reilly blaming the "activist left" for taking a "monster scalp." Even O'Reilly was convinced that the "left-wing plot" angle might work, planning in emails accidentally shared with Politico to avert his firing by convincing the Murdochs that it was all an attack from liberal Media Matters. That plan, apparently, didn't work.
 
By comparison, National Review has had some considered takes on O'Reilly's fall, including the conservative age gap represented by O'Reilly's show and the dangers for the right of uplifting trash-talking pundits.
 
The Blaze / Tomi Lahren Saga Continues: The ongoing employment spat between Glenn Beck's The Blaze outlet and viral-friendly ranter Tomi Lahren continues to get uglier. This week, something called a "butt pad" entered the fray.
 
The Blaze, already sued by Lahren after the site booted her following an appearance on The View that saw her slam pro-life conservatives, countersued Lahren. The complaint makes some interesting allegations, painting Lahren as a diva (without offering any evidence so far).
 
Another tidbit: apparently Lahren wasn't supposed to tell a reporter profiling her for The Ringer that her wardrobe budget runs to an eye-popping $40,000.
 
But the real intrigue came later in the week, with the Daily Caller running a story filled with a flood of anonymously sourced allegations against Lahren. The most intriguing claim involves a "butt pad" Lahren allegedly wanted reheated.
 
Lahren demanded staffers heat up her “butt warming pad” in the microwave before every show, those sources said. “She expected to be treated like a queen,” one source said, referring to Lahren’s butt pad demands as “dehumanizing” to her staff, adding: “To demand they warm your butt pad is absurd.”
 
Lahren, who is understandably sure that the sources for these stories came from within The Blaze, convinced a judge Monday to order the Blaze to search their internal emails to see if anyone there communicated with the Daily Caller reporter, Peter Hasson. And the site will have to make Beck available for depositions.
 
Finally, in what is shaping up to be a hell of a new season for FX's Feud, Lahren's legal wrangling has earned her access once again to her sizable Facebook following after a month-long absence. This time, Lahren's rejoinders are delivered from a nondescript room, rather than the Blaze's studio.   
 
 
 
 
Senators put heat on Breitbart: A couple of Democratic senators want to know if Steve Bannon broke ethics rules about contact with former employers by reportedly complaining about Breitbart's critical  coverage of his White House frenemies.
 
The real White House correspondents dinner party: Gateway Pundit's White House Correspondent's Dinner counter-programming is nearly here. With protesters sure to swing by, Gateway Pundit's Jim Hoft is keeping the event's Washington location secret until the last minute.
 
I'm trying to score press access and chronicle the party, which is notably/curiously "80's retro" themed. 
 
A bad rap: Conservative Twitter lit up late this week to make fun of this Comedy Central rap about cultural appropriation. In fairness, it really is bad.
 
 
 
Establishment conservative media in the Trump era: Politico has a big story this week on how Trump has roiled traditional conservative media outlets like the Wall Street Journal and Fox News. The piece includes some interesting deals on the rivalry between Roger Ailes and Steve Bannon, and this item on the growing pointlessness of the Wall Street Journal editorial board that could double as a description of a lot of the NeverTrump media: 
 
They’re like the Catholic Church during the Great Schism, plagued by deep internal feuding, dancing on the head of a pin because they’re not important anymore
 
Conservative media night at the White House goes bad: Conservative reporters headed to the White House Monday for a reception with Trump that should have been their latest big moment in the mainstream. Instead, they ended up steaming at what they saw a kid's table treatment from the press staff.
 
The Proud Boys, but even more militantThe Proud Boys — the masturbation-eschewing social club of men who "refuse to apologize for creating the modern world" — now has an "official military arm," according to the Proud Boys' media site.
 
What could go wrong?
 
Led by Kyle Chapman, the rapidly rising alt right star dubbed "Based Stickman" after he made his name scrapping with antifa in Berkeley earlier this year, the Fraternal Order of Alt Knights (get it?) promises to focus on "street activism, preparation, defense and confrontation."
 
 
 
 
The new internal group comes as the Proud Boys have earned new attention (and recruits) for their role in last weekend's Berkeley fighting. They've also started providing security at these deliberately provocative events for the likes of Ann Coulter and conservative Canadian commentator Lauren Southern.
 
Storm clouds for Gavin McInnes?: Does Chapman's ascension to the higher ranks, such as they are, of the Proud Boys' spell growing irrelevance for Proud Boys leader and Vice co-founder Gavin McInnes? I think maybe it does!
 
The "Alt Knight" group will have its own "chapters, joining requirements, vetting rules, rituals, and charter," according to the Proud Boys. That sounds like a clear way to get away from the Proud Boys' more outré and comical elements, including the masturbation restrictions and the cereal-centric initiations. 
 
McInnes and his jokey nudity homoeroticism were always an awkward fit for the natural Proud Boys recruit: angry young men obsessed with traditional values and fighting "degeneracy." Chapman, on the other hand, offers a far more appealing image of wading into battle against what they see as leftist fascism.
 
The Proud Boys site itself explained the new Knights group by ominously writing that "At this point the Proud Boys has grown beyond McInnes’s control."
 
Trend to watch: The Proud Boys can seem like a marginal group, but I think the growing physical belligerence of the alt right that they typify is something to watch. And these are the guys who are comparatively moderate on these issues, proving more eager lately to reclaim the "alt light" term once used by anti-Semites to insult them.
 
Admittedly, this is coming after they see their ideological fellow travelers get shut down at events and even physically assaulted by leftist activists and antifascists — so this isn't just a development on the right.
 
The Milo "Comeback" Tour: Diminished provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos wants to reenter "polite" society, two months after resurfaced video of him making strangely ambivalent comments about pedophilia cost him a book deal and his job at Breitbart.
 
Yiannopoulos's self-described comeback tour involves a week-long stint of "rallies" and "massive parties."
 
Naturally, he's chosen to stage it all at Berkeley, the one place in America he can be assured that enough antifa will come out to disrupt his events and turn him from a guy who makes weird comments about pedophilia into a free speech martyr.
 
The big question: Will a week of mischief be enough to salvage Yiannopoulos career and get him a piece of the free speech advocate he pioneered but that has since passed him by? I'd say: probably! Things are pretty wild these days.  
 
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