Spectre Unmasked: Racist 'Alt-Right' Podcaster Used To Be Local Reporter
A notorious white nationalist podcaster with a history of instigating harassment campaigns and threats of violence against reporters is in fact a journalist himself, Hatewatch has learned.
A 49-year-old man named Norman Asa Garrison III, who has written under the byline Trey Garrison for publications like The Dallas Morning News, D Magazine and Reason, identifies himself within the racist “alt-right” movement pseudonymously as “Spectre.”
Garrison, posing as Spectre, presently hosts Third Rail, a podcast published on Mike “Enoch” Peinovich’s white nationalist website The Right Stuff. He sometimes depicts himself to other racists as a psychiatrist with a practice in the Seattle, Washington, area. Hatewatch has learned that neither of those things are true. Spectre is in fact Garrison, a Plano, Texas-based reporter and columnist whose byline has been mostly inactive since 2013. A 2008 column he wrote for Dallas News titled, “Why I Don’t Want Diversity in My Neighborhood” was once reprinted in the white supremacist publication American Renaissance.
Garrison, operating as the Spectre persona, is often credited with amplifying the hashtag #DayoftheBrick, which was a call to people in the alt-right movement to smash reporters in the face with bricks. The name is a play on words referring to “Day of the Rope,” which comes from the white supremacist novel The Turner Diaries. In the novel, “Day of the Rope” is when the right-wing rebels commit a mass murder of their enemies – lawyers, journalists, race traitors – by hanging. Garrison’s podcast Third Rail ran an episode called “The Day of the Brick” on June 3, archives from the Daily Stormer show.
The #DayoftheBrick hashtag – and the threat that it posed to reporters – was so prominent on social media in June 2018 that it received coverage by Committee to Protect Journalists and The Guardian. Luke O’Brien, a reporter with HuffPost, was targeted with threats of violence throughout that month on social media. He described “Spectre” as a ringleader behind that harassment in a phone conversation with Hatewatch.
Operating as “Spectre” on Twitter, Garrison taunted victims of the June 28, 2018, Capital Gazette shooting while that violence was still taking place. Jarrod Ramos, a man armed with a shotgun who apparently held a grudge against that Annapolis, Maryland-based paper, allegedly murdered five people that afternoon in the Capital Gazette newsroom. When an employee of that paper wrote on Twitter, “Active shooter 888 Bestgate please help us,” Garrison replied with a meme taken from the film The Watchmen. The meme, depicting the character Rorschach, simply said, “No.” Garrison continued to mock the victims of that shooting in another post: “Annapolis Maryland sheriffs are reporting multiple fatalities in a newsroom. I wonder if it’s only journalists or any real people got hurt,” Garrison wrote on Twitter under the handle @TheSpectreOps on the afternoon of June 28.
Garrison’s Spectre persona is a familiar character in the world of white nationalist Twitter. He has been banned from that website across dozens of handles, according to Hatewatch’s analysis. Each time he returns, he does so with a signifier to allow his fans to know he is back. He sometimes returns in accounts that were launched in 2010 or 2011, suggesting that he may be obtaining access to pre-existing handles from people who sell them on the black market. The signifiers of his Twitter persona sometimes include links to the Third Rail podcast, wallpaper promoting the logo used for Third Rail podcasts, an avatar using the image of actor James Spader, and different variations of specific words in his handles. Hatewatch reporting finds the following Twitter handles were operated by Garrison: @JamesSpectreTM, @SpectreActual, @ActualSpectre, @BasedSpader, @SpectatorTM, @SpectreAmerican, @ThirdSpectre, @thedisrespectre, @JamesSpectreTM, @SpectreActual, @ForeverSpectre, @spectre3rdrail, @spectrestatus3, @wompthing, @thirdrailshowTM, @docmidnightTM, @altrightMD, @DrARWN, @NotSpectreTM, and @SpectatorHaunts, among others.
Garrison also used Twitter to target women and minorities with abuse.
“Normal people are growing tired of this nonsense from POC,” he wrote from the handle @BasedSpader in reply to a person of color in July 2018. “I think you’re mad because black people don’t have a culture.”
In addition to referring to whites as “normal people,” he once referred to non-whites as “cockroaches.”
“Cockroaches can sometimes overrun a human dwelling,” he wrote on Twitter as @BasedSpader, referring to non-whites as being subhuman.
He referred to black people as being “nature’s clowns” in a tweet directed at rapper Talib Kweli on Wednesday from his current handle, @SpectatorHaunts.
Third Rail podcasts on Peinovich’s network were sometimes catalogued and preserved by the blog Angry White Men. In addition to using his platform to stoke harassment against reporters, Garrison once urged his listeners to frame innocent black people for crimes they did not commit, according to audio recordings preserved by that website.
Multiple Texas-based reporters who spoke to Hatewatch and knew Garrison said that he already established a pattern of harassing people online, particularly women, before going underground as Spectre around 2014. His first Twitter handle, @TreyGarrison, was suspended for reasons that are unknown. Garrison foreshadowed his Spectre persona under that handle. He used that platform to call a woman “a supremely stupid c---,” according to a screenshot captured in 2014, for example. He also referred to President Barack Obama using the racially demeaning word “boy,” and wrote to him, “your mom was a bestiality obsessed w----.”
Two former colleagues of Garrison’s who worked with him when he was a reporter told Hatewatch they clearly recognized the voice on Third Rail podcasts to be his. A different woman who was harassed by Garrison a decade ago says the pattern of behavior he exhibited in his Spectre persona was immediately familiar to her. She was harassed more recently on Twitter by someone she didn’t know and said the person who did it used an avatar of actor James Spader. She remembered Garrison as a cigar-smoking misogynist who delighted in targeting feminists with verbal abuse. The reporters who worked with Garrison in the past described him as a gun owner and declined to be named in this story because they feared a violent retribution from him.
A former girlfriend of Garrison’s told Hatewatch that she knew Garrison to be Spectre and that he clearly identified himself to her as the host of Third Rail. Giuliana Isabella Cacciaroni e Dimaggio-Chandler, a corporate attorney, told Hatewatch that she dated Garrison for 16 months in response to a request for comment about his identity. Dimaggio-Chandler described herself as an “Italian political activist” originally from Sicily, Italy, and a member of the Italian fascist party CasaPound. She once posted online under the moniker “Smallpox Blanket,” but says that she is no longer online under that identity.
Dimaggio-Chandler told Hatewatch that she made several efforts during their relationship to get Garrison to leave the alt-right movement without succeeding. She said that Garrison lied to her about his life. She says Garrison told her he was a wealthy, Ivy League-educated psychiatrist and that he was divorced. She says she recently discovered Garrison is married. Garrison was educated at the University of Alabama, according to records reviewed by Hatewatch.
Garrison admitted to hosting Third Rail through text messages to Hatewatch. He blamed his history of social media harassment on “assistants,” who he said ran his Twitter accounts. Every Third Rail podcast in which he speaks, as well as many of the posts from his most recent Twitter handle, @SpectatorHaunts, were deleted from the internet shortly before this story was published.
Photo illustration by SPLC