On March 26, far-right media personality Jamie Allman threatened to forcibly sodomize Parkland massacre survivor and gun safety activist David Hogg with a “hot poker.”
The backlash to Allman’s threatening tweet was not immediate; it was not until this past weekend that public outcry seemed to hit a critical mass.
This week on Monday and Tuesday, Allman’s rising career as a Saint Louis radio talk show host and television commentator quickly came crashing down. As news spread of his tweet, companies quickly withdrew their advertising dollars. Local radio and television stations booted him from the airwaves and shortly thereafter he announced his resignation from the television conglomerate Sinclair Broadcast Group.
Allman’s termination can be interpreted as a positive step toward more factually-informed and civil discourse. However much of the coverage surrounding the controversy has largely overlooked Allman’s history of propagating far-right extremism and failed to raise questions like, “Why did it take so long to remove an individual with a history of espousing fringe ideas and welcoming extremists to his show?” and “How did a person with his views get such a platform to begin with?”
Allman’s incendiary language comes at a time of right-wing populist backlash to the March for Our Lives, a movement calling for greater gun safety and gun control since the February 14 mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead and 17 more wounded.
The Parkland student activists have been the subject of a constant barrage of conspiracy theories, smears, online harassment, and violent threats reminiscent of the abuse that unfolded after the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting in 2013.
The difference between then and now is that individuals who pushed those extreme narratives and conspiracies theories were usually confined to the political fringes of the far-right. However, for many years such rhetoric and conspiracy-fueled politics has been steadily moving from the margins into mainstream conservative political discourse. Donald Trump’s then-candidacy and now presidency significantly accelerated that trend.
Allman has contributed toward the larger mainstreaming of previously fringe far-right ideas.
Perhaps the most recent example occurred on April 4, over a week after his tweet, when he invited notorious anti-Muslim extremist Pamela Geller on his radio show. She talked about an “enemedia” friendly to Obama and hostile to Trump and effectively blamed Muslims for the rise in London’s reported crime.
Geller has been on Allman’s radio show at least 12 times since 2010.
Allman has also had Jim Hoft, editor of the conspiracy-laden far-right blog Gateway Pundit, speak on his radio show dozens of times since at least 2013. Hoft has made numerous and egregious factual errors furthering his far-right views. (In 2017, Allman boasted that he was set to attend the “alt-Lite”-organized “Deploraball” with Hoft celebrating Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration.)
Allman himself has also propagated conspiracy theories often heard from so-called “Patriot” movement extremists like Alex Jones. He has previously made outlandish and unsubstantiated claims such as alleging that mass voter fraud exists in Missouri and around the U.S., that Planned Parenthood engages in “the trafficking of baby parts” and that after the Las Vegas mass shooting gun safety activists were “trying to ban all firearms.”
Since his fall, Allman has kept a low profile and his tweets are now private. However, as observers have pointed out, he is far from the only individual who has engaged in an ideologically-driven and conspiracy-fueled effort to attack the Parkland student activists. Whether or not his downfall is an isolated case or the beginning of a counter-movement toward greater civil and fact-driven public discourse, remains to be seen.
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