In August 2014, a band of four then-pseudonymous contributors to the white nationalist blog The Right Stuff (TRS) gathered for what the site’s founder would deem an “experiment”: The onetime racist blog founded by Mike “Enoch” Peinovich had decided to pivot to audio. Over the course of the next hour, the four men lambasted immigrants, libertarian women, and ethnic and racial minorities.
TRS dubbed this hour-or-so roundtable, which featured racist banter and commentary on the news, “The Daily Shoah.” The name was an antisemitic riff on the popular news and comedy show “The Daily Show,” though “The Daily Shoah’s” co-hosts saw themselves as following more in the footsteps of the “edgy shock comedy” a la “The Howard Stern Show” or “Opie and Anthony” than Comedy Central’s popular satirical news program. (Later, hosts leaned on this comparison in an effort to pass off their descriptions of, say, torturing Black children with large-gauge IV catheters as detached, irony-drenched humor.) In the end, Peinovich’s self-described “experiment” proved to be a success, and as the listenership of “The Daily Shoah” grew, so did the podcast offerings on TRS’s website. The network advocated for white supremacist ideals in a way that was digestible and appealing to a generation of budding extremists who had grown up either with or alongside the internet.
Today, “The Daily Shoah” is just one among dozens of noteworthy podcasts produced by far-right extremists. Yet, even as the medium has expanded and become more varied within recent years among the far right, mirroring its own growing popularity in mainstream society, the role of podcasts in the world of far-right extremism has been largely understudied.
This four-part report examines the origin and growth of the far-right podcast ecosystem, exposing the individuals and groups that used this technology to create and expand their networks of hate. To show how far-right extremists used podcasts for networking, to build their individual brands, and to spread propaganda nationally and internationally, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) analyzed thousands of data points from 15 years of podcast recordings. This research reveals how such extremists as Richard B. Spencer leveraged podcasts to popularize the “alt-right” movement as well as how podcasts provided on-the-ground organizers a platform for planning the violence and mayhem of the deadly 2017 “Unite the Right” rally. Furthermore, this analysis demonstrates how extremists used podcasts to cultivate their own financially lucrative video and livestreaming landscape, which is now dominated by such sites as YouTube, Twitch and DLive.
The loudest voices in hate
Far-right extremists have relied on audio content to promote their message of hate to audiences for decades. Still, podcasts had, and have continued to have, a unique appeal. Shows cost very little to produce and distribute – a host needs only audio-editing software and a microphone. There are no stringent federal regulations on podcasts, unlike broadcast radio, making the barrier to entry much lower. Finally, dozens of platforms and mobile apps (“podcatchers”) distribute podcasts at no cost to listeners, including those made by Google, Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, Libsyn, Soundcloud and Spreaker.
Keeping track of the networks of podcast hosts and guests presents unique challenges to researchers. Participants, including both hosts and guests, often use aliases and provide little biographical information. They may frequently change their personal and content-related “brands,” and their recordings disappear and reappear across a web of podcast syndication platforms, often because of deplatforming. (Deplatforming refers to the act of tech companies stopping a person or group, typically those who give voice to an extreme ideology, from using their websites.) Changes in the availability of an audio archive may result from infighting as well.
To document the expansion of the far-right podcast ecosystem, the Southern Poverty Law Center focused on 18 different podcasts between the years of 2005 and 2020. From there, the SPLC was able to focus in on 882 cast members who appeared on 4,046 different podcast episodes. The associations between cast members of these 18 different shows reveal the interconnectivity of the movement.
The most well-connected individuals are at the center of the diagram. This space is dominated by cast members of shows on The Right Stuff network, including “The Daily Shoah,” as well as other long running podcasts, such as “Fash the Nation” and “Paranormies Present.”
The network can also be animated to demonstrate its growth over time.
The following table lists the shows and networks in the collection, how many episodes were able to be found as of March 31, 2020, and the approximate date of the first broadcast in the collection. The shows are grouped by network (The Right Stuff, Identity Dixie, or other), then by date of first broadcast. The SPLC chose six podcasts from one network (The Right Stuff), three from another network (Identity Dixie) and nine independent shows. Of the independent shows, SPLC included one international show (“Nordic Frontier”), one show marketed to women (“Helicopter Mom”), one long-running show that has digital downloads but also airs on FM radio (“The Political Cesspool”), one show that focuses on esoteric religion (“Mysterium Fasces”) and one show that uses a video format and is focused on debates between far-right influencers (“Killstream”).
Table 1, Shows and Networks
|Show||Network||# Episodes in dataset||Date of first broadcast in dataset||Notes|
|The Daily Shoah||TRS||600||2014-08-03|
|Fash the Nation||TRS||310||2015-08-19|
|Paranormies||TRS||180||2016-09-13 (ep 5)||No dates listed for episodes 1-5|
|Exodus Americanus||TRS||166||2016-10-03 (ep 36)||Episodes 1-35 were not found, so could not be included in dataset|
|Strike and Mike||TRS||105||2017-12-10|
|Good Morning Weimerica||ID||54||2017-12-14|
|The Political Cesspool||-||1266||2005-03-29||Airs on AM radio and online; episodes from October 2004 through March 29 2005 were not available online|
|White Rabbit Radio||-||120||2017-08-04 (ep 16)||No airdates listed for episodes 1-5. This long-running show existed on ham radio prior to 2009, then on a self-hosted site through 2017.|
|GoyTalk||-||123||2018-05-02||Discontinued Dec 2019|
|The Cocktail Hour||-||61||2018-11-14 (ep 3)||Episode 1 and 2 were not found, so could not be included in this dataset|
|Full Haus||-||42||2019-04-28 (ep 2)||Episode 1 showed an airdate of May 13, 2019.|
Of the 882 people in the data set, the vast majority appeared on only one or two different podcast shows. The SPLC’s analysis reveals a smaller subset of prominent extremists who were active on multiple shows and appeared on numerous episodes throughout the network. In order to determine which figures were the most active throughout this podcasting network, the SPLC limited its analysis to those figures who appeared on five or more different shows in the dataset. Using this methodology, the SPLC determined that there were 22 far-right activists at the heart of the podcasting network. Most of them are hosts or co-hosts of their own podcasts, including shows that do not appear in this dataset. However, all have been crucial figures in the flurry of far-right extremist activity throughout the Trump years, whether as propagandists or organizers.
In fact, the only frequent guests who never hosted their own podcasts were Jason Kessler and Elliot Kline (as “Eli Mosley”). Kessler and Kline were among the organizers of the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017. Kessler was also a former member of the Proud Boys, and Kline was the onetime leader of Identity Evropa (which later rebranded itself as American Identity Movement after Kline’s departure), a white nationalist group known for its campus recruitment efforts. One of the episodes of “The Daily Shoah” featuring Kline aired on Aug. 13, the day after James Alex Fields Jr. murdered Heather Heyer, an antiracist protester, in Charlottesville. The episode was named “GVF-1111” after the license plate of Fields’ car. “The Rebel Yell” podcast featured Kessler six times, including two shows promoting the event and one show with both Kessler and Kline discussing the aftermath of the event. While Kessler and Kline served as event and group organizers rather than as propagandists, their presence in this dataset as frequent guests is a testament to the close relationship between podcasting and on-the-ground actions.
Table 2, Cast members with most appearances on different podcasts
|Cast Member||Show Count||Show List|
|Mike Peinovich (as “Mike Enoch”)||9||Fash the Nation, GoyTalk, Killstream, Paranormies Present, Rebel Yell, Strike and Mike, The Daily Shoah, Third Rail, White Rabbit Radio|
|Richard Spencer||9||Fash the Nation, GoyTalk, Killstream, McSpencer Group, Rebel Yell, Strike and Mike, The Daily Shoah, The Political Cesspool, Third Rail|
|Joseph Jordan (as “Eric Striker”)||9||Fash the Nation, Full Haus, GoyTalk, Killstream, Mysterium Fasces, Nordic Frontier, Strike and Mike, The Daily Shoah, White Rabbit Radio|
|James Kreider (as “Jayoh de la Rey”)||8||Exodus Americanus, Fash the Nation, Full Haus, Good Morning Weimerica, Paranormies Present, Rebel Yell, The Daily Shoah, Third Rail|
|John Ramondetta (as “Johnny Monoxide”)||8||Exodus Americanus, Fash the Nation, Full Haus, Paranormies Present, Rebel Yell, The Daily Shoah, Third Rail, White Rabbit Radio|
|DarkEnlightenment||8||Exodus Americanus, Fash the Nation, Good Morning Weimerica, Paranormies Present, Rebel Yell, The Cocktail Hour, The Daily Shoah, Third Rail|
|Bret Lynn (as “Musonius Rufus”)||8||Good Morning Weimerica, Helicopter Mom, Mysterium Fasces, Paranormies Present, Rebel Yell, The Cocktail Hour, The Daily Shoah, White Rabbit Radio|
|Borzoi Boskovic||8||Exodus Americanus, Fash the Nation, Full Haus, Helicopter Mom, Paranormies Present, The Cocktail Hour, The Daily Shoah, Third Rail|
|Alex McNabb||6||Full Haus, GoyTalk, Killstream, The Daily Shoah, Third Rail, White Rabbit Radio|
|Christopher Cantwell||6||Exodus Americanus, Fash the Nation, GoyTalk, Nordic Frontier, Rebel Yell, The Daily Shoah|
|James Allsup||6||Exodus Americanus, Fash the Nation, Killstream, The Daily Shoah, Third Rail, White Rabbit Radio|
|Jason Kessler||6||Exodus Americanus, Fash the Nation, Rebel Yell, The Daily Shoah, The Political Cesspool, White Rabbit Radio|
|Augustus Sol Invictus||6||GoyTalk, McSpencer Group, Nordic Frontier, Rebel Yell, The Daily Shoah, The Political Cesspool|
|Elliott Kline (as “Eli Mosley”)||5||Exodus Americanus, Rebel Yell, The Daily Shoah, Third Rail, White Rabbit Radio|
|D'Marcus Liebowitz||5||Exodus Americanus, Strike and Mike, The Daily Shoah, Third Rail, White Rabbit Radio|
|Robert Ray (as “Azzmador”)||5||Fash the Nation, Paranormies Present, The Daily Shoah, Third Rail, White Rabbit Radio|
|Larry Ridgeway||5||Fash the Nation, Full Haus, Paranormies Present, The Daily Shoah, Third Rail|
|Cathy Prince (as “Cathedral Princess”)||5||Fash the Nation, Helicopter Mom, Rebel Yell, The Daily Shoah, Third Rail|
|Matthew Heimbach||5||Mysterium Fasces, Nordic Frontier, Paranormies Present, Rebel Yell, The Daily Shoah|
|Eric Field (as “Mencken’s Ghost”)||5||Good Morning Weimerica, Mysterium Fasces, Paranormies Present, Rebel Yell, The Daily Shoah|
|Roscoe Jones||5||Exodus Americanus, Full Haus, Paranormies Present, The Daily Shoah, Third Rail|
|Jason Köhne||5||Full Haus, Nordic Frontier, The Daily Shoah, The Political Cesspool, White Rabbit Radio|
The SPLC chose to examine 18 shows that are varied in presentation and style. Despite these surface-level differences, all are modeled after “hot talk” or “shock jock” talk shows. These feature a rotating cast of hosts and guests, as opposed to the single-speaker format typified by other right-wing media, such as conservative radio broadcaster the late Rush Limbaugh’s show.
In addition, owing to the small size and insular nature of the community of far-right extremists, hosts often appear on each other’s podcasts. Popular guests are occasionally requested to return as guests or even as temporary hosts. The podcasts also sometimes affiliated with cross-promotional “networks” that promote related shows through shared discussion boards, centralized funding mechanisms and the like.
The Right Stuff network
“The Daily Shoah” (TDS) began in 2014 with two hosts: former tech sector worker Mike Peinovich, who uses the alias “Mike Enoch,” and Jesse Dunstan, who goes by “Sven,” “Seventh Son” and several other aliases. TDS is the main flagship show for The Right Stuff network. (You can read more about “The Daily Shoah” in Part 3 of this report: The Rise and Fall of “The Daily Shoah.”)
Another one of TRS’s most well-known shows, “Fash the Nation,” began in 2015 as a racist and antisemitic answer to the mainstream Sunday morning television talk shows, such as “Face the Nation.” “Fash the Nation’s” original hosts used the aliases “Jazzhands McFeels” and “Marcus Halberstram,” but it has changed hands at times over the years, though new hosts have also tended to come in pairs. The content of the show includes commentary on current news events and guest appearances. The show is part of The Right Stuff’s network, although it also maintains its own website.
“The Paranormies Present” joined TRS’s network in mid-2016. It focuses on racist conspiracies and paranormal activity. The antisemitic conspiracy theories that Jewish people control the world and that the United States is operating under a so-called Zionist Occupied Government (ZOG) are some of the many racist and antisemitic falsehoods advanced in the show by its host John Ramondetta, who goes by the moniker “Johnny Monoxide.”
“Exodus Americanus” likely began in early 2016, but the first episode SPLC could locate for this dataset is numbered 36 and was aired in October 2016. The hosts of the show use the aliases “Roscoe Jones” and “Walrus Aurelius,” and there have been several co-hosts through the years. “Exodus Americanus” refers to itself as “The Great American Houseboat.” Like “Fash the Nation,” “Exodus Americanus” maintains its own website where it hosts recordings of other shows.
“Third Rail” premiered in spring of 2017 with an episode titled “Flight 1488.” The number 14 refers to the racist creed called “The 14 Words,” and 88 is an alphanumeric reference to “Heil Hitler." Like many of the podcasts on this list, “Third Rail” has had a rotating cast over the years, but its core hosts are former journalist Norman “Trey” Garrison as “Spectre” and “Borzoi Boskovic.”
Finally, there is “Strike and Mike,” which features Joseph Jordan as “Eric Striker” and Mike Peinovich. The show introduced itself as “the biggest brained content on the alt-right” at its launch in December 2017. Regardless of billing, the show is blatantly racist, misogynist, and antisemitic, with episode titles such as “Jazzy Jews!”, “Theory of Semitivity” and “Kaplan America, C-ville Whore,” referring to Roberta Kaplan, lead plaintiff’s attorney in the lawsuit against the alleged conspirators who planned the “Unite the Right” rally.
Shows on the TRS network share a common website where listeners can listen to old episodes, comment on the episodes, join a discussion forum and pay for premium content through monthly donations.
The Identity Dixie network features mostly neo-Confederate programming. It began as an offshoot of a TRS forum group called “TRS Confederates,” and is smaller and newer than TRS itself. Identity Dixie’s flagship show is “Rebel Yell,” hosted by Bret Lynn (under the alias “Musonius Rufus”). The show also features a rotating cast of co-hosts including Eric Field (under the alias “Mencken’s Ghost”), “Ryan McMahon” and Russell Barry (under the alias “Fulwar Skipwith”). “Rebel Yell” premiered in January 2016.
“Helicopter Mom” was a short-lived podcast that ran on the Identity Dixie network in 2017 and 2018. It claimed to focus on “women’s issues.” Most episodes of “Helicopter Mom” were hosted by a woman using the alias “Julia Evola,” a play on the Italian fascist theorist and writer Julius Evola, along with her co-hosts “Rachel,” “Evelyn” and “Kelly U Gah” (a play on the fascist interpretation of the Hindu “Kaliyuga” or “Dark Age”). The show promoted a “trad wife” lifestyle. Each episode included a recipe segment, a Bible segment and advice on child-rearing and homesteading. While “Helicopter Mom” is a term typically applied to overprotective mothers, here it appears to refer to Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet’s infamous death flights, in which dissenters were dropped to their deaths from helicopters. The use of the term helicopter rides by the far right, including groups such as the Proud Boys, has become synonymous with using violence against people who are politically liberal or left-leaning. “Helicopter Mom” was discontinued in December 2018.
“Good Morning Weimerica” is another show that airs sporadically on the Identity Dixie network. However, its hosts Tyler Thompson and Patrick Bishop are known for taking frequent, long hiatuses. As a result, they have produced only 54 episodes since the 2017 launch.
Shows affiliated with the Identity Dixie network share a common website featuring download links and links to some social media channels, but they do not appear to share a funding mechanism or have any publicly available discussion boards.
The remaining shows in the data set are either independent or part of much smaller networks.
White nationalist James Edwards launched “The Political Cesspool” in 2004, and it is the longest-running show in this dataset. Though Edwards is the show’s main host, it has had a large contingent of cohosts and regular guests since its inception. “The Political Cesspool” is unique in that it airs on a few terrestrial radio stations in addition to being broadcast on the internet, and the hosts occasionally take live telephone calls from listeners. Still, the show’s format is like others in that it features racist and antisemitic commentary by hosts and guests as well as recurring segments.
“Mysterium Fasces” was a short-lived podcast that ran from 2016 to 2017. Billed as a “Christian Traditionalist podcast,” its pseudonymous host “Florian Geyer” advocated a blend of esoteric and orthodox religions with fascism. The final regular episode aired in June 2018, and one last episode was released in August 2019.
“Nordic Frontier” is the English-language outreach podcast of the Swedish neo-Nazi political party the Nordic Resistance Movement, which has produced the show since January 2017. (The Finnish government banned Nordic Resistance Movement in 2017, a few weeks after members of the group’s branch in Sweden were sentenced to prison for three bombings in Göteborg, including one targeting a refugee center. Its members have perpetrated a variety of attacks on activists and others in the countries where NRM is active.) “Nordic Frontier” is the only international podcast in this report. It has three regular hosts: Andreas Johansson, Johan Svensson and Michael Hovila, who each represent Sweden, Norway and Finland.
“White Rabbit Radio” has gone through several iterations as a show. It began on ham radio, then was sporadically distributed as sound files, and finally in 2017 it took shape as a regularly occurring podcast initially called “This Week in White Genocide.” That title was dropped after nine episodes, and the show is now called “White Rabbit Radio.” Tim Murdock, the show’s host who uses the alias “Horus the Avenger,” has claimed the title is a nod to Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.” Murdock has also stated that he believes the white rabbit represents peoples of European descent and their genetic perfection. There is also an associated show called “End-Game Exotica” that began in 2011 and requires a paid subscription. In February 2019, Murdock began to distribute “White Rabbit Radio” as a livestreamed video series. These video episodes are archived on Bitchute, a YouTube clone that has become a haven for white supremacist content. Murdock has also streamed the show on video-streaming platforms such as DLive.
“GoyTalk” was started as a weekly video podcast streamed on YouTube by a host using the alias “Dino Spumoni,” with co-hosts “Paddocksperg,” “Peezy” and “Arnel Schwarzen***a” (asterisks added). The show ran from May 2018 through December 2019. Many episodes featured special guests. Titles like “ZOG bless America,” “Hoes Mad,” and a seven-part “Blacked History Month” series indicate the show’s antisemitic, misogynist and racist content.
“Killstream,” hosted by Ethan Ralph and a long list of co-hosts and special guests, bills itself as a “free speech” comedy show. The show broadcasts up to five nights per week. The show formerly streamed on Youtube, but was banned after news media revealed that the show was profiting from racist content by way of Youtube's “SuperChats” feature. The show then moved to video livestreaming service DLive, where Ralph continued to earn considerable donations from fans until he was temporarily banned following the insurrection in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
“The Cocktail Hour” is an audio-only podcast hosted by pseudonymous “John Q. Publius” since fall 2018. The show has no co-hosts as of this writing but does feature appearances by various new and returning guests who offer commentary on episodes with titles such as “The Delusions of Multi-Culturalism” and “Infighting and Accelerationism.” Accelerationism refers to a strand of white supremacist ideology that promotes terrorism as a means for ushering in the collapse of modern society and replacing it with a white ethnostate. “The Cocktail Hour” is currently available on numerous podcast syndication services.
“McSpencer Group” is a streaming video series hosted by Richard B. Spencer of the National Policy Institute. The show originally aired on YouTube beginning in March 2019, but it has since been forced off the platform. Spencer has continued to stream on lbry.tv and Entropy, two “alt-tech” streaming services. You can read more about Richard Spencer in Part 2 of this series: “Richard Spencer’s Origins in the Podcast Network.”
Finally, “Full Haus” advertises itself as a show “for white fathers, aspiring ones, and the whole biofam.” Its main host is Matthew Q. Gebert, using the alias “Coach Finstock,” who SPLC’s publishing arm, Hatewatch, revealed to be a U.S. State Department employee. Co-hosts include Michael McKevitt, using the alias “Potato Smasher,” and a man going by “Sam.”
The importance of podcasts in the extreme right
The extreme right has depended on its own alternative media networks to promote events, propagate new ideas and network both within and across ideologies. (Indeed, as Part 4 of this series explores, the far right has a long history of using audio and visual technology to broadcast its message of hate, both in the United States and beyond.) Even though far-right extremist leaders welcomed some of the mainstream press’ attention to their movement in the early Trump era, insofar as it drew the movement into the limelight, these networks have persisted.
“Having a media platform that is independent of the mainstream is important,” “Jazzhand McFeels,” the pseudonymous host of the TRS-hosted “Fash the Nation” podcast, said on a September 2016 episode of the white nationalist show Radio 3Fourteen, hosted by Red Ice TV.
Podcasts have been exploited by far-right extremists in three distinct ways. They represent an important vehicle for radicalization to extremism and recruitment into extremist groups. Podcasts are also a bridge from online to on-the-ground organizing, specifically in the context of the deadly 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Finally, extremists use podcasts to build contacts abroad and introduce their movements to leaders in other countries.
Podcasts as a recruitment tool
In trying to understand the role of the internet and social media in radicalization to extremism, journalists and academics have explored the existence of a “rabbit hole” effect – particularly in consuming video content on YouTube. Here, viewers who start out watching mainstream content are recommended increasingly extreme content. Academic Becca Lewis suggested in her landmark study on YouTube that its recommendation algorithm worked hand-in-glove with what she dubbed an “alternative influence network.” While members of this network may have adhered to a range of political ideologies, they nevertheless promoted each other’s work by making guest appearances on one another’s shows. These appearances, Lewis explained, helped “influencers with mainstream audiences lend their credibility to openly white nationalist and other extremist content creators.”
Because the podcasters in SPLC’s report have been deeply embedded in the white power movement for years, many of their listeners have already gone down this “rabbit hole” of radicalization. However, forum posts viewed and analyzed by the SPLC referencing some of the podcasts in this report within the context of users’ own self-described radicalization narratives reveal that these shows help guide extremists as they move throughout the movement.
The SPLC examined radicalization narratives from two online communities. The first, Iron March, was a staunchly neo-Nazi forum associated with terroristic white power groups such as the Atomwaffen Division that was active from 2011 to late 2017. Its moderators and members prided themselves on the rigor of their fascist beliefs. As Hatewatch reported in 2019, the rigid, fascistic worldview of Iron March, epitomized by its pseudonymous cofounder, “Alexander Slavros,” has helped spawn a series of murders and terror attacks, as well as a slew of plots and attempted attacks. The second, TRS’s 504um, now known as Bang, is an online white nationalist community populated largely by fans and paying subscribers of the TRS podcasting network.
Both communities constituted two distinct poles within the white power movement, with Iron March representing its violent, terroristic ambitions and 504um typifying its efforts to build a white ethnostate through the existing political system. For a time, some users retained membership at both sites, while members of each site’s core leadership engaged in dialogue on their respective podcasts and occasionally republished one another’s work. However, after members of 8chan, a far-right image board popular with white supremacists and far-right conspiracy theorists, outed TRS leader Peinovich as married to a Jewish woman, the two communities fractured. “Slavros” and those groups, such as the Atomwaffen Division, that carried on the forum’s legacy of violence long after it disappeared from the web in fall 2017, expressed contempt for TRS and other factions of the alt-right. For “Slavros,” the alt-right represented “appeasement” to the current political order, as he argued in the September 2017 text “Zero Tolerance.”
On TRS, the radicalization narratives examined in this report were derived from a series of threads – previously detailed in a 2018 SPLC publication – on 504um in March 2018, where 74 users explained what drew them to the white power movement. While TRS users’ radicalization narratives hinted at two common pathways to a white nationalist worldview – either through racist and misogynistic trolling culture on such sites as 4chan, or through exposure to more highbrow, pseudo-academic racism – 63% of users named podcasters and livestreamers as their most important influences. Users also explained that podcasts, including ones in the dataset behind this report, were their mechanism of choice for recruiting and radicalizing others – a process extremists often refer to as “redpilling.”
“I have introduced some friends to [“The Political Cesspool”] … because it has great discussions and topics that are pro White and Pro Christian that many rightwingers can accept,” the user “handsomejack” wrote on 504um on March 28, 2018. Later in the same thread, a user with the handle “DinoCon” recommended Red Ice for women entering the movement, in that they offered “LOTS of content explicitly for ladies.” The two Red Ice hosts were also frequent guests on the other podcasts in this study, appearing on 19 different episodes of “The Political Cesspool,” “White Rabbit Radio,” “Killstream” and “Fash the Nation.”
For some users, TRS podcasts provided a source of entertainment that opened them up to a new worldview of hate. For others, the TRS network of podcasts was just a waystation on the path to more radical content, such as that found on Iron March. Some Iron March users claimed to have quit TRS after becoming frustrated with Peinovich and others.
“I found TRS’s arguments against so called ‘purity spiraling’ to be pathetic,” user “Helios” wrote in an Iron March introductory post, dated Feb. 19, 2017. In it, he referenced infighting between the two communities, spurred in part by 8chan’s outing of Peinovich as married to a Jewish woman. In this context, the term “purity spiraling” appears to refer to the user’s frustrations with Peinovich’s critiques of Iron March, as well as TRS forum moderators’ efforts to weed out users on their platform who were also associated with “Slavros’” forum. The user continued, noting: “I had also come to find the IM contributors to TRS to be the most interesting, so when they were banned, I began to drift away from TRS.”
One stepping stone from the world of more politically minded white nationalism to Iron March’s hardline fascist ethos, according to Iron March users, was “Mysterium Fasces,” a podcast hosted by the pseudonymous “Florian Geyer.” Throughout late 2016 and well into 2017, several users referenced “Mysterium Fasces” in their introductory posts on Iron March as a source of inspiration for their worldview. The show had its own overlap with TRS as well, in that several episodes had featured TRS affiliate “Strike and Mike” co-host Joseph Jordan, under the name “Eric Striker.”
As early as December 2016, a few months after the first episode of “Mysterium Fasces” debuted, Iron March user “Eristopolese” credited the show with guiding them to the forum.
“I’d like to thank Florian Geyer for his podcast Mysterium Fasces which is the reason why I’m a full-blown fascist,” “Eristopolese” wrote on Dec. 14, 2016.
Users described “Mysterium Fasces” as “eye-opening” and “instrumental” to their journey. They claimed the show revealed a different side of the fascist movement, exposing them to religion or more rigorous fascist beliefs. “I was red-pilled mainly through Twitter and the Alt-Right as a whole, and soon started going deeper, e.g., … listening to the Mysterium Fasces podcast,” “FashySpaniard” wrote on April 4, 2017. Another user, under the name “John Q. Public,” wrote on May 10, 2017, that “Mysterium Fasces” – which had long used Eastern Christian chanting as its opening theme – had inspired them to attend church.
Podcasts and on-the-ground organizing
Extremists also used the podcasts referenced in this report to build in-person communities and mobilize their base to attend events. Podcaster Robert Warren Ray, otherwise known as “Azzmador,” assisted Daily Stormer editor Andrew Anglin in launching a nationwide series of meetup groups, known as Stormer Book Clubs. (At times, Ray has described himself as the Daily Stormer’s “man on the ground.”) The TRS network had its own version of Stormer Book Clubs, known as “pool parties,” which provided an outlet for fans of the network to meet up offline. For planning mass events, these podcast networks and the communities played a formidable role.
Nowhere is this more evident than the case of the deadly August 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Here, podcasting networks were not only crucial in terms of promoting organizing efforts, garnering support from around the movement and attracting attendees, they also provided platforms for organizers to shape the narrative around “Unite the Right” in a way that was favorable to the movement after the fact. Indeed, the fact that nearly half of the 22 top cast members identified by SPLC (see Table 1) were at one point named as defendants in Sines v. Kessler, a civil lawsuit against “Unite the Right” organizers filed in October 2017, is testament to the intimate relationship between podcasting as a medium and the event itself.
SPLC’s analysis of podcast metadata shows that “Rebel Yell,” “The Political Cesspool,” “The Daily Shoah,” “The Third Rail” and “Exodus Americanus” all promoted “Unite the Right” or provided opportunities for organizers to spin the narrative after the conclusion of the violent event. “The Political Cesspool,” for instance, hosted seven Charlottesville-themed shows in the months before and after “Unite the Right.”
“The Daily Shoah” provided similar before-and-after coverage as well, although one of its hosts, Peinovich, has been dropped from a civil lawsuit filed in late 2017 targeting organizers of the event. In an episode of the show – originally aired on Aug. 8, 2017, four days before “Unite the Right” – Peinovich discussed his interactions with law enforcement and encouraged listeners who were attending the rally to appear “peaceful.” Former Identity Evropa head Elliot Kline – one of the defendants in the ongoing civil suit against “Unite the Right” organizers – joined the show as a guest, in order to share his own insights in the run-up to the event.
In the immediate aftermath of “Unite the Right,” Peinovich and his cohosts spoke with a variety of organizers and key attendees. Richard Spencer, another event organizer, and Kline guest-starred. Former State Department official Matthew Q. Gebert, who was known in white nationalist circles under his moniker “Coach Finstock,” joined as well, where he recalled his experience of leading the Northern Virginia “pool party” to “Unite the Right.” The episode focused largely on shaping the narrative after the event, with Peinovich claiming that the “shitty set up” that brought “Unite the Right” attendees into contact with antifascists was intentional. He promoted a conspiracy theory that soon became popular among some “Unite the Right” supporters as well, which claimed that the police had acted in “collaboration with counter protesters.” As for James Fields Jr., who was seen marching with Vanguard America during “Unite the Right” and who would later be convicted of murdering antifascist activist Heather Heyer in a car-ramming attack, Peinovich said, “He should get a medal.”
Other shows sought to rework the narrative around “Unite the Right” in a hapless effort to relieve the movement of blame for Heyer’s death. On Aug. 13, “Fash the Nation” aired an episode that promised to get at “the real story of what happened in Charlottesville.” Among the guests were “Unite the Right” lead organizer Jason Kessler, who remained unrepentant about his role in the fiasco and went on to plan a sparsely attended “Unite the Right 2” anniversary event in Washington, D.C., the following year.
One September 2017 episode of “Mysterium Fasces” – airing just one month after “Unite the Right” – featured three prominent propagandists and organizers speaking candidly about their participation at the event. Within the first five minutes of the episode, Traditionalist Worker Party’s Matthew Parrott revealed to co-host Gabriel Sohier Chaput (“Zeiger”) and TRS’s Joseph Jordan (“Eric Striker”) that the narrative put forth by organizers and participants – that the event was about defending the city’s Confederate statues from being taken down – had crumbled long before “Unite the Right” took place. Instead, Parrott explained, “Unite the Right” was a “street brawl that we ended up winning.” Jordan then took Parrott’s point one step further, adding that the purpose of the event was to “dominate the public square” and “hold territory.”
In all these cases, the podcasts served a dual purpose. First, they provided a platform for “Unite the Right” organizers to address members of the white power movement directly. They used this audio platform to coordinate with their supporters, both before and after the rally. Second, in the aftermath of “Unite the Right,” hosts and guests used the freedom granted to them by these independent platforms to establish their own narrative around what happened in Charlottesville and respond to criticisms from politicians, law enforcement, the media and the broader public.
Podcasts as a means of building contacts internationally
Finally, podcasts provide a low-cost, low-risk method for exchanging information and networking internationally. Among the podcasts referenced in this report, “Nordic Frontier” is notable for its international case, including several U.S.-based guests such as Matthew Heimbach and Tony Hovater of the now defunct Traditionalist Worker Party. Recently, Jordan and Warren Balogh (“Ahab”) from The Right Stuff network and the National Justice Party have appeared on the show as well.
Other individuals who have appeared on Nordic Frontier but whose groups or shows were not featured in this data set include Jason Köhne of the YouTube show “No White Guilt,” Christopher Cantwell from “Radical Agenda,” Patriot Front leader Thomas Rousseau, and neo-Nazi and former Proud Boy Augustus Sol Invictus.
Likewise, the hosts of “Nordic Frontier” have appeared on U.S.-based podcasts to discuss their work. For instance, one of the show’s hosts, Andreas Johansson, joined former State Department official Matthew Q. Gebert’s podcast “Full Haus” in June to talk “white pride worldwide.”
Appearances on international podcasts help propagandists, event organizers and movement leaders exchange information about strategies and tactics. Thomas Ryan Rousseau, the Texas-based leader of the white nationalist group Patriot Front, appeared on “Nordic Frontier” in 2019 to discuss his group’s approach to holding real-world events in the wake of “Unite the Right” in the United States. (Rousseau had attended “Unite the Right” with the group Vanguard America, of which he was a prominent member. Vanguard America disintegrated in the wake of the event, in part due to its association with Fields.) He and the “Nordic Frontier” host compared “Unite the Right” to a September 2017 Nordic Resistance Movement event in Gothenburg, Sweden, and lamented how difficult it had become to hold demonstrations in the face of strong antifascist turnout.
Rousseau then introduced Patriot Front’s strategy for holding “flash” or unplanned, surprise demonstrations rather than events with permits. Johanssen, the “Nordic Frontier” host, complimented Rousseau’s approach: “I think it’s really nice, this international cooperation. Your organization seems very stable, you’ve got good ideas, you’ve got purpose. You’ve got good activism. You’ve got a lot of people that are willing to sacrifice time and energy for the cause.”
Johanssen continued, offering a pointed critique of other U.S.-based white supremacist groups, “There was some sort of alt-right manifesto, some 25-point program, but I mean, you know, it was just loosely … there was no organization, there was no activism. It was just podcasts. [laughs] That’s what the alt-right was. Just f***ing podcasts and a web site.” Rousseau agreed, saying, “Absolutely.”
Another U.S.-based neo-Nazi group that earned Nordic Frontier approval was the Traditionalist Worker Party. TWP co-founder Matthew Heimbach appeared on “Nordic Frontier” less than two weeks after he helped organize “Unite the Right.” He discussed the training and weaponry TWP members and others used to go after antifascists while framing the event as an overall success for the movement.
“We were able to push them back, push them back, push them back up the streets,” Heimbach said on the podcast. Later, he added: “Whenever they would charge us, we would literally just beat them back.”
Heimbach went on to claim that he and TWP members “followed the law” because they “know the state is looking for any excuse to come at [them].” But, he noted, “when you have raving communists coming with baseball bats to try and attack you, we would just defeat them.” The “Nordic Frontier” hosts agreed, and the group discussed their negative opinions of law enforcement for the remainder of the segment.
The appeal of audio propaganda to the extreme far right is undeniable. By meticulously cataloging the available data about the audio hate ecosystem, SPLC’s research reveals a network of over 800 hosts and guests who collaborated more than 4000 times to record their hopes and plans for creating a white ethnostate, for promoting racist memes, for harassing racial, ethnic and religious minorities, and so on. The creators of these propaganda vehicles may claim to be simply producing copies of edgy “shock jock”-style entertainment, but this research shows that the podcast network is instead crucial to individual extremists’ radicalization narratives, their promotion of violent events and their ability to foster international cooperation between hate groups.
As technology continues to change, the podcast network is also evolving, with many of the shows already adding video-based and game-based elements to their programs. And just as far-right extremists transformed the podcast ecosystem from a low-cost way of producing propaganda and into a moneymaking enterprise, so too SPLC has observed the video livestreaming landscape also quickly becoming monetized.
A note on the methodology
The social network is visualized using the Gephi Force Atlas layout algorithm, which pulls highly-connected nodes closer to one another, and closer to the center of the diagram.
In assembling this data set, the Southern Poverty Law Center prioritized data collection for 18 shows that could help demonstrate variety in show demographics, thematic focus, platform availability and format (radio, podcast, streaming video).