About Matt Walsh
Walsh is a self-described “theocratic fascist” who is one of the most prominent anti-transgender voices in American right-wing media. Walsh sometimes suggests his most extreme comments are satirical or in jest, as when he explained why he describes himself as a theocratic fascist. However, his comments regularly reflect male and white supremacy and transphobia and are often used by radical right-wing extremists against marginalized communities. Walsh hosts “The Matt Walsh Show” on the Daily Wire and has written several books that promote anti-transgender pseudoscience and conspiracy theories. Walsh has advocated political violence and violence against transgender people and medical providers that give gender-affirming care. Some of these facilities have received bomb threats and have faced the suspension of care and increased security measures.
In His Own Words
“The goal is to make ‘pride’ toxic for brands. If they decide to shove this garbage in our face, they should know that they’ll pay a price. It won’t be worth whatever they think they’ll gain. First Bud Light and now Target. Our campaign is making progress. Let’s keep it going.” – on Twitter, May 24, 2023
“The gay pride flag signifies drag queens dancing for toddlers, males invading women’s bathrooms. It signifies castration drugs given to children. It signifies the destruction of the nuclear family. When government officials send that thing up the flagpole or paint its ridiculous colors in the street, that is what they’re promoting. It’s what they’re advertising. It is the cause they want us to salute. Not only should we refuse to salute it, but we should treat it with disdain. We should treat it as a hate symbol because that’s what it is. They fly the flag, that flag, because they hate you and your values and what you believe and everything you stand for.” – on “The Matt Walsh Show,” March 9, 2023
“You know, it’s – I think as a parent, it’s like a fate worse than death in a lot of ways.” – on having a child come out as transgender, on “The Spectator TV,” Feb. 28, 2023
“I would rather be dead than have that happen to my kids.” – on having a child come out as transgender, on “The Matt Walsh Show,” Feb. 21, 2023
“You so often find that so-called gender expansive adults tend to have ‘gender expansive’ children. I just feel – I mean, you feel horrible for these kids. What chance do they have in the world?” – on “The Matt Walsh Show,” Feb. 6, 2023
“The stuff about the trans murder rate, how trans people are murdered more than anyone else at an alarming rate, there's an epidemic of anti-trans murders. All of that – it’s a flat-out lie.” – on “The Matt Walsh Show,” Oct. 24, 2022
“Just like cancer, stopping it is not a gentle or a painless process. The farther along the cancer is, the more aggressive you have to be in fighting it. Culturally, we are approaching, if we haven’t already reached, a terminal state, which means we have to be all the more aggressive, which calls for two things. First, obviously involving children in drag events in any capacity should be outright criminalized everywhere. There is no other way. You know, this doesn’t stop until police are breaking down the doors at these places and carting the adults away in handcuffs. Charge them all as pedophiles. Throw them in prison, and whenever they get out, if they do get out, put them on the sex offender registry for life.” – on “The Matt Walsh Show,” Oct. 19, 2022
“‘Should trans surgery be banned for adults, too?’ Um, yeah.” – on “All Access Live,” the Daily Wire, Sept. 29, 2022
“Two men should not be allowed to adopt babies because babies need mothers. They also need fathers, which is why two women shouldn’t be allowed either.” – on “The Matt Walsh Show,” Oct. 18, 2021
“So, they [Democrats] want to replace, especially white male voters, with voters who they think are going to be beholden to them. Now, this isn’t a conspiracy theory. There’s nothing wild or speculative about it. It’s just a fact.” – on “The Matt Walsh Show,” May 16, 2022
“I am literally a theocratic fascist. I do indeed believe that my religious beliefs should be forced on people by the government. And not just the government, but a government headed by me as a dictator.” – on YouTube, April 3, 2019
Background: ‘Shock jock’ and violent rhetoric
Walsh started his broadcasting career in Delaware, first hosting “The Matt and Crank Program” in early 2010 on Georgetown radio station WZBH “The Beach” 93.5 FM, according to Media Matters. Walsh reportedly left the station not long after an episode aired in which he “demand[ed] that his subordinate remove his pants and allow Walsh to use a taser on his exposed butt despite multiple protestations.” After a brief stint at another radio station, Walsh claimed to be leaving radio to focus on his blogging career, although he later returned to WZBH through 2015.
During this period, Walsh regularly discussed the subject of violence and used violent rhetoric. According to Media Matters, Walsh spoke to a tea party rally in April 2010, saying: “If you want extreme things to happen, you have to be willing to take – to go to extremes. … Everyone keeps bringing up our Founding Fathers. They were willing to pick up guns and kill people for what they wanted. A sign won’t do it. And calling your congressman won’t do it.” Later on his radio program, Walsh reiterated: “If you want extreme change, you must take extreme action. ... You have to make people hurt.”
Walsh’s violent ethos has remained consistent in his more recent public comments. Following a mass shooting at a Colorado Planned Parenthood center in 2015, Walsh tweeted, “Yes, this is a perfectly appropriate time to point out that Planned Parenthood is a demonic cartel of bloodthirsty butchers.”
In 2017, the Daily Wire – a right-wing propaganda company founded by Ben Shapiro and Jeremy Boreing in 2015 – hired Walsh. The Daily Wire, which reportedly aims to become a “conservative alternative” to Disney, streamed content to over 1 million subscribers in 2022 and claimed $100 million in revenue in 2021.
In 2020, Ben Shapiro announced the Daily Wire would move from Los Angeles to Nashville, Tennessee. Walsh confirmed the move in a Twitter post and announced he was also relocating to Tennessee. Since then, he has appeared before the state legislature to support anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and led a campaign focused on ending gender-affirming care at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. The campaign garnered national attention when Walsh and the Daily Wire hosted a “Rally to End Child Mutilation” on Oct. 21, 2022.
In 2021, Walsh claimed to be a resident of Loudoun County, Virginia, to circumvent the local school board’s policy on speakers at board meetings. The Daily Beast reported that Walsh claimed to have “outsmarted” the school by “faking” his residence and testifying against a proposal to affirm the rights of transgender students. Loudoun County Public Schools is featured in Walsh’s 2022 propaganda film, What is a Woman?
Walsh was a topic of conversation in an October 2022 episode of the American Family Association’s “At the Core” podcast co-hosted by Rick Green, who is also president of Patriot Academy – a right-wing organization that provides American history and government curriculum built on the work of anti-LGBTQ+ extremist David Barton. During the program, Green indicated Walsh was a friend and completed the group’s constitutional defense training course, which combines their constitutional curriculum with handgun training, teaching participants to defend themselves against “bad guys” described by one instructor as having “dreadlocks, hasn’t showered in a month, probably just got out of prison.”
‘Beginning To Talk Like Us:’ Walsh’s white supremacist rhetoric
In an April 2021 video, Vincent James Foxx, a former propagandist for the white nationalist Rise Above Movement and head of the far-right media outlet Red Elephants, compared a tweet from Walsh which complained that white people are not “allowed to be proud of their history and identity” with comments by white nationalist Nick Fuentes, who wrote about white people being “under attack” in America. Foxx concluded that “they’re beginning to sound a lot more like us.”
Foxx added that Walsh’s “messaging is becoming more and more similar” to the far right’s white nationalist and antisemitic rhetoric. In the video, Foxx said the convergence of messaging between Walsh, Fuentes and the far right was the “inevitable conclusion of what happens” in “this ever-diversifying racial jungle that we’ve created in America.”
Walsh’s comments demonstrate why white supremacists view him as a champion of their cause. In a July 23, 2013, tweet, for example, Walsh promoted the model minority myth, saying: “Before you tell me minorities can’t succeed in this country, go take a look at how the Jews and Asians are doing.” Walsh also regularly promotes the idea of “anti-white racism,” which he claims is “the most prevalent, dangerous, and systemic form of racism in America.” Walsh said racial minorities who fear racists attacks from white people are “paranoid, unreasonable, not supported by reality,” that their fears are “rooted in anti-white bigotry” and that they are “the problem.”
In an April 2023 tweet, Walsh again shared false and conspiratorial claims about white victimhood – this time, in a message accompanying a 20-second video clip, that provides no context, purportedly showing a white woman being attacked by a group of Black men in Chicago. The tweet came on the same day a white Kansas City, Missouri, man was arrested for shooting a Black teenager at his front door. Despite this immediate example and a long history of racist attacks against Black people, especially Black women in the United States, Walsh’s tweet falsely suggested white violence against Black people does not happen. “You absolutely never see videos like this with the races reversed,” Walsh claimed, again parroting white supremacist talking points that stoke racist fear of Black people, concluding, “This kind of violence literally always goes one way.”
In this vein, Walsh avidly promoted the conspiracy theory that a wave of anti-white violence was gripping Waukesha, Wisconsin, in 2021, falsely claiming that the man who killed six people when he drove into the city’s Christmas parade was an act of anti-white terrorism perpetuated by a “black supremacist” and that his actual motive was being intentionally obscured by law enforcement and the media.
Walsh’s comments on murder in Wisconsin, however, took a different approach when he discussed the case of Kyle Rittenhouse – who was acquitted of charges that he fatally shot two people during a Black Lives Matter protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in 2020. In 2021, Walsh said: “Yeah, we know that Kyle Rittenhouse shot three people. Guess what? Shooting people is not against the law. There’s no law anywhere that says, ‘Don’t shoot people.’”
Also in 2021, after his embrace by Foxx, Walsh further cemented his rhetorical embrace of white supremacy when he espoused the “great replacement” conspiracy theory, claiming that “we’re bringing in a flood of immigrants across the southern border, non-white” and “celebrating the reduction in the white population.” In April 2023, Walsh retweeted an image of the LGBTQ+ progress pride flag, which includes stripes for LGBTQ+ people of color and transgender people. The original tweet asked, “What does this flag represent to you?” – to which Walsh’s tweet responded, “The collapse of western civilization.”
On Aug. 14, 2023, audio said to be “leaked” from a past episode of Walsh’s show on WZBH was released on Twitter/X. “What I like most,” Walsh reportedly said, “is the culture and philosophy that was distinctly western Anglo-Saxon.” Walsh went on to suggest that “the original inhabitants” of the United States, who were “Anglo-Saxon,” if you “forget about” Native Americans, are now “dying off” and leaving a “cultural void” that is being filled by immigrants representing a “hodgepodge of cultures.” Walsh also said that for “our [Anglo-Saxon] culture and our identity to continue, we need to just procreate and keep that culture going,” and that anything else is “vague platitudes” that will not prevent the extinction of white people.
In response, Charlie Kirk, executive director of Turning Point USA, argued that “Matt Walsh said nothing wrong” and that Walsh’s comments were “common sense” because “America was founded by Anglo-Saxons and based upon Anglo-Saxon laws and traditions.”
What Is a Woman? and The Gender Unity Project
Walsh has a history of publicly confronting transgender people with insults and derision, misgendering them, recording them and posting clips of his antics to social media. These recent stunts build on Walsh’s 2022 film What Is a Woman? The magazine Current Affairs described the film as “a feature-length attack on transgender people that accuses them of being delusional about reality and posing a threat to women and children.” Throughout the film, Walsh makes the claim that there should be a simple answer to the question, but no liberal academic or transgender person can answer the question to his satisfaction.
At one point, Walsh asks his wife the question who responds while asking him to open a jar of pickles – not so subtly implying that the “correct” answer to his question is to root gender in biology. The scene also implies that any “correct” answer to the question must maintain strict adherence to binarized masculine and feminine gender roles and recognize that women are both inherently dependent upon and weaker than men.
The scene is consistent with Walsh’s male supremacist rhetoric, and throughout the film he leaves the audience with the dual impressions that women exist to supplement the life of men and that people who do not conform to either masculine or feminine gender roles should not exist. He has previously claimed white men are being “erased” and are “indispensable to our civilization.” He has also claimed that the role of women is to give birth, which is acceptable for kids as young as 16, which he claims is actually “harder for men,” that he “learned nothing” from the #MeToo movement and that sexual consent “increasingly means nothing.”
In the film, Walsh uses the supposed inability of others to answer the question “What is a woman?” as evidence that “those who subscribe to Gender Ideology … have beliefs that do not make sense.” Walsh’s propaganda is furthered through interviews with transgender people, many of whom were likely deceptively recruited by his production company The Gender Unity Project, LLC. As reported by Eli Erlick, in emails the company represented itself as having conducted interviews with “well-known trans individuals and surgeons,” obscured its ownership using a registered agent and did not disclose the full name of the film’s producer in an apparent attempt to deceive transgender people into agreeing to interviews for the film.
In addition to spreading disinformation about transgender identity and discredited pseudoscience, Walsh’s film relies on propagandist tactics of narrative manipulation in suggesting legal protections for transgender people will lead to people being prosecuted for using the wrong pronouns. And in making numerous false equivalencies. In addition to relying on trans-racial claims (a white person can identify as Black, for example), Walsh presents a false equivalency between transgender and trans-species identities. This latter line of thought follows the common anti-transgender trope falsely spread widely by right-wing personalities and Republican politicians claiming that schools are placing litter boxes in classrooms for students who “identify as cats.”
Walsh has spread the discredited “social contagion” myth of transgender identity (the flawed theory espoused by Abigail Shrier but largely introduced to the scientific record by therapist Lisa Marchiano and anti-trans research and propaganda groups Society for Evidence Based Gender Medicine and Genspect that transgender identity spreads among children via social interactions in schools). As Nathan Robinson’s review notes, Walsh again follows Shrier’s model in the film by withholding narratives that challenge Walsh’s propaganda. Specifically, Walsh discusses the case of a Canadian man who Walsh claims was fined and jailed for misgendering his child. While ignoring the child and the child’s supportive mother, Walsh also misrepresents the severity of the trauma the child’s father reportedly inflicted on the child.
Walsh also edited interviews with transgender people in a way that some would consider problematic. For example, Naia Okami, who identifies as “otherkin” – people who often spiritually identify as “not entirely human” – recalled “Matt being frustrated during our interview that I wasn’t giving him any of the ‘gotcha’ responses he seemed to desperately want, so it makes sense that he would focus on what he believes is the more extreme portion of my identity.”
The film has a companion audio book by the same title (What is a Woman? One Man's Journey To Answer the Question of a Generation, DW Books, 2022) that also claims to expose the “horrifying roots of radical gender ideology” and describe how “activists and ideologues are trying to brainwash our kids.” Ironically, Walsh’s book Johnny the Walrus is an anti-trans propaganda book written for children, centering both the “social contagion” myth and anti-trans scare tactics through the story of a boy who is forced to become a walrus by “internet people.”
In addition to attacking transgender people, Walsh’s gender essentialism erases intersex people. In a 2020 episode of his show, Walsh verbally attacked two teenage transgender athletes in Connecticut, repeatedly misgendering them and derogatorily referring to them as “penis wielding XYs” in reference to his essentialist understanding of gender. In a separate screed against the teenagers, Walsh used the same derogatory language and claimed that “someone with XX chromosomes or somebody with XY chromosomes ... pretty much covers the whole gamut of human possibilities.”
In late April 2023, Alabama state Rep. Susan Dubose filed the “What Is a Woman Act,” which is reportedly named after Walsh’s work. The bill would erase trans and nonbinary people from state law through restrictive, binarized, definitions for male, female, man, woman, father, mother, boy and girl. The bill was adopted by the House Health Committee in May 2023.
Walsh’s other books include The Unholy Trinity: Blocking the Left’s Assault on Life, Marriage, and Gender (Mission Audio, 2017) and Church of Cowards: A Wake-Up Call to Complacent Christians (Dreamscape Media, 2020).
Targeting children’s hospitals
On Sept. 20, 2022, Walsh posted on Twitter an anti-transgender screed targeting Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) in Nashville, and accused the hospital of drugging and castrating minors. In the thread, Walsh – who later falsely claimed millions of kids are taking “hormone blockers” – repeats right-wing conspiracies that hospitals promote gender-affirming care for profit, specifically target children and obscure their plan as part of an insidious plot.
Walsh, who has also advocated for banning all gender-affirming medical care, also posted video clips featuring VUMC doctors and administrators discussing the opening and operation of the hospital’s Clinic for Transgender Health, using the recordings as evidence of his conspiratorial claims. Walsh accused the clinic of both “threatening any staff members who objected” and “enlist[ing] a gang of trans activists to act as surveillance in order to force compliance” with the supposed plot. Walsh was referring to the “Trans Buddy” program, which provides trained peer volunteers to “support persons who are seeking highly personal care in an unfamiliar environment, and who may have been refused medical services in the past or avoided seeking them out of fear of being met with hostility.”
In response to Walsh’s false claims, VUMC denounced the thread. Vanderbilt University’s campus newspaper reported that Walsh’s attacks led to harassment against LGBTQ+ students, quoting one student who said, “We are not safe on a campus that calls itself a safe space for LGBTQ+ people.”
The following day, Walsh’s false claims were used by Tennessee’s Republican governor, Bill Lee, to call for an investigation into VUMC’s Clinic for Transgender Health. Lee’s statement mimics Walsh’s anti-transgender rhetoric, saying in part, “The ‘pediatric transgender clinic’ [quotes in original] at Vanderbilt University Medical Center raises serious moral, ethical and legal concerns. We should not allow permanent, life-altering decisions that hurt children or policies that suppress religious liberties, all for the purpose of financial gain.”
On Oct. 7, VUMC temporarily suspended gender-affirming surgeries in response to Walsh, Lee and state legislators. On Oct. 21, Walsh organized a “Rally to End Child Mutilation” at the Tennessee Capitol. The rally featured U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn, former U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and self-identified detransitioners as speakers. Members of the Proud Boys hate group were in attendance. At the event, signs from the Daily Wire and anti-LGBTQ+ hate group Alliance Defending Freedom were distributed that read, “Do No Harm” and “Mutilation =/= Medicine.” One sign read, “Mutilate the Mutilators.” According to Media Matters, Walsh characterized his campaign against transgender health care as “a battle of good versus evil.”
In response to the rally and Walsh’s false claims, the state increased its policing of transgender identity and gender-affirming care. So important was the issue among the state’s right-wing conservatives that the first bill filed in the 2023 session of the Tennessee General Assembly (HB 001) was a ban on gender-affirming health care for minors. In a February 2023 committee hearing, Walsh testified in favor of the measure. During his testimony, Walsh was asked to reconcile his opposition to young people receiving gender-affirming care with his previous support of teenage pregnancy and was rebuked by state Rep. Bo Mitchell for testifying against the bill without knowing “all the facts” about gender-affirming care. The gender-affirming care ban for minors went into effect in July over the legal objections of trans kids and their parents. In September 2023, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit sided with the state.
In 2022, Walsh targeted other hospitals that provide gender-affirming care, including Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, which was forced to cancel a trans youth support group after receiving threats and harassment when Walsh and LibsofTikTok accused the hospital of “running medical experiments on children.” In September 2022, the FBI arrested a suspect who called in a bomb threat to Boston Children’s Hospital following a similar campaign by Walsh and LibsofTikTok against that hospital’s gender-affirming care program. Media Matters reported that Walsh refused to take responsibility for his disinformation campaign, suggesting instead that the bomb threat was a “left-wing hoax.” A 2022 report by the Human Rights Campaign describes the connections between the right-wing, anti-trans extremism espoused by Walsh and real-world attacks on LGBTQ+ people.
In addition to shrugging off violent attacks on children’s hospitals that occur in the context of his intimidation campaigns, Walsh has advocated violence against doctors who provide gender-affirming care and violence against transgender people directly. In 2023, Walsh said gender-affirming care “should be legally considered a capital crime and it should earn the prescribed penalty for such crimes.”
In a March 7, 2023, open resignation letter written by Daily Wire contributor Christina Buttons, a investigative reporter who spent six months writing about transgender people, noted the site’s and Walsh’s increasingly extreme anti-transgender rhetoric as a reason for her departure. After praising Walsh’s What Is a Woman? film, Buttons called out Walsh for targeting trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney, saying, “You are weird and artificial, you are manufactured and lifeless, you are unearthly and eerie, you are like some kind of human deepfake.”
Buttons – who now serves as an adviser to Gender Dysphoria Alliance alongside Dr. Lisa Littman, one of the progenitors of the myth of Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria (ROGD) – criticized Walsh for defending these comments as a way to activate conservatives, although she noted that his goal is not to “convince the other side” but to “defeat, humiliate, and demoralize” his opponents. She continued, “I can only assume that the enthusiasm generated by Walsh’s hardline position encouraged another colleague of mine, Michael Knowles, to make a controversial statement at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC)” in reference to Knowles saying, “Transgenderism must be eradicated.”
On April 19, 2023, Walsh announced that YouTube had demonetized his channel for repeatedly attacking Mulvaney. Speaking at a Young America’s Foundation event, Walsh also suggested he views transgender identity as a threat to white supremacy, saying, “I truly see the fight against gender ideology as the last stand for Western civilization” – a notion commonly used to position white people and society as the standard or exemplar for civilization and politics.
As Media Matters notes, a contract for another Daily Wire host, Steven Crowder, showed the host could incur a 25% pay cut by losing the ability to monetize content on social media sites such as YouTube. The violation of YouTube’s Partner Programs Policies, then, could cost Walsh more than the estimated $100,000 per month in advertising revenue he generated through YouTube.