As of 14 August 2017, Daily Caller — a conservative web site with a twin nonprofit organization — has scrubbed its site of articles by Jason Kessler, the white supremacist who was an organizer of a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia the weekend before.
The violent rally in Charlottesville resulted in the deaths of three people: Charlottesville resident Heather Heyer, 32, was killed and nineteen people were injured on Saturday when a man drove a car into a group of counter-demonstrators. 20-year-old James Alex Fields of Ohio is being held on charges of murder and malicious wounding.
Virginia State Police Lt. H. Jay Cullen, 48 and Trooper-Pilot Berke Bates, were monitoring the unrest when the helicopter they were flying went down near the park in which the rally had taken place.
On 11 August 2017, white supremacists began to gather in Charlottesville bearing torches and chanting slogans such as “Jews will not replace us” and “white lives matter”. Some were heavily-armed and dressed in military-style gear. Others were seen giving Nazi salutes and making comments about “killing Jews”.
At the center of the melee is a statue of Robert E. Lee, a Confederate general, and simmering controversy over the statue’s proposed removal from what was once known as Lee Park, but now called Emancipation Park. Kessler has placed himself directly in the center of the controversy. On 14 May 2017, he penned an article for the Daily Caller in which he embedded himself with white supremacists Richard Spencer and Nathan Damigo, who led another violent melee in Berkeley, California in April 2017. In that article, Kessler wrote:
Spencer spoke first, saying, “We are here to say no; no more attacks on our heritage, on our identity; no more attacks on us as a people.”
Nathan Damigo, who caused a sensation in Berkeley by punching an Antifa rioter, added, “This fight is essentially a demographic struggle for the future of Western Civilization.”
Like Damigo, many of the demonstrators weren’t necessarily Southerners but sympathized with the fight to preserve a history which they say is increasingly under attack by Left-wing ideologues who want to tear down statues, change the names of buildings and rewrite history books to place white people in an unsympathetic and even hostile light.
Two weeks after the Daily Caller published Kessler’s story, nonprofit news outlet ProPublica revealed he had left out some critical details — namely that Kessler didn’t simply observe and report back on the rally; he was part of it. According to ProPublica:
The story, it turned out, also carried some critical omissions: It didn’t disclose that its author, Jason Kessler, is supportive of white supremacist groups, and on the day of the march had himself made a speech to the protesters in which he praised fascist and racist organizations, thanked a prominent Holocaust denier, and declared the beginnings of a cultural “civil war.”
ProPublica contacted Kessler after the article’s publication. In the course of an extended interview, Kessler said he saw efforts to remove symbols of the Confederacy as part of a broader attack on white people who, in his view, face an “existential crisis.”
“White people are rapidly becoming a minority in the U.S. and Europe,” he said, adding that he resented the country having to take in immigrants and refugees. “If we’re not able to advocate for ourselves we may go extinct.”
ProPublica also contacted The Daily Caller. Widely read in right-wing circles — the site gets nearly 10 million unique visitors per month, according to Quantcast — The Daily Caller was co-founded in 2010 by Tucker Carlson, who served as editor-in-chief until late last year when he took a prime-time job at Fox News. Carlson, who hosts a nightly show in the time slot that once belonged to Bill O’Reilly, remains co-owner of the site. Like Breitbart News, The Daily Caller has found an audience by posting a constant stream of punchy news stories, some of them imbued with racial overtones.
Within hours of being contacted by a ProPublica reporter, The Daily Caller appended an editor’s note to the article and severed its ties with Kessler. The editor’s note states, “The author notified The Daily Caller after publication that he spoke at a luncheon May 14 on behalf of an effort to preserve the monument.”
After Kessler’s involvement with the rally was brought to light, Paul Cronner, executive editor for the Daily Caller, told ProPublica the article remained live on the web site because it was factually accurate, but the publication had “suspended” their freelance relationship with him. It is unclear exactly when Kessler’s articles on the Daily Caller web site were taken down, but they were removed at some point after June 2017, according to the Internet archiving tool Wayback Machine.
Kessler had at least two other previous stories on the web site — one on 26 April 2017 in which he interviewed Kyle Chapman, a 41 year old man known online as “Based Stickman” and who has become famous among supporters for swinging a stick at opponents during “alt-right” demonstrations. A third story written on 3 April 2017 outlined the gruesome murder of a 17-year-old boy by MS-13 gang members. As of 14 August 2017, the urls for those stories are no longer live.
We left a voice message for Cronner asking why the stories were removed, and have not received a response. We also sent an e-mail to Kessler seeking comment but got no response.
The Anti-Defamation League has named Kessler as a white supremacist who made anti-Semitic remarks and said the United States would have been better off if the Confederacy had won the Civil War. Kessler was chased away while trying to hold a press conference on 13 August 2017 by Charlottesville residents who were angry over the violence and hatred expressed at the Unite the Right event.