Emily Larsen, DCNF
Many people on Twitter claimed that Republican Dan Crenshaw, a Navy veteran newly elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, was part of a white supremacist or Nazi Facebook group after he appeared on “Saturday Night Live” Nov. 10.
inspiring : click here to watch this vet prove that moderating white supremacist forums is okay if you did war stuff
— we’re going to abolish ICE (@SeanMcElwee) November 11, 2018
“Everyone is praising pete Davidson [sic] and SNL for normalizing a white supremacist,” Sean McElwee, contributor at The Nation and co-founder of the progressive research firm Data for Progress tweeted Sunday. “Inspiring : click here to watch this vet prove that moderating white supremacist forums is okay if you did war stuff.”
GOP candidate & recent SNL surprise guest Dan Crenshaw was an admin of a virulent white nationalist Facebook group, so yeah everyone can stop treating him like a cute talking puppy who spreads moderate-conservative good will. https://t.co/yEtBBxRyiw
— Mark Hughes (@markhughesfilms) November 11, 2018
“GOP candidate & recent SNL surprise guest Dan Crenshaw was an admin of a virulent white nationalist Facebook group, so yeah everyone can stop treating him like a cute talking puppy who spreads moderate-conservative good will,” writer Mark Hughes said Sunday.
Dan Crenshaw was one of the Republican candidates caught being a member of a Nazi Facebook group, and now the media is talking about him as the face of the decent Republican Party.
— Denizcan Grimes (@MrFilmkritik) November 11, 2018
“Dan Crenshaw was one of the Republican candidates caught being a member of a Nazi Facebook group, and now the media is talking about him as the face of the decent Republican Party,” one user said Sunday.
Crenshaw was a member of a large conservative group called “Tea Party” on Facebook. Media Matters exposed examples of conspiracy theories and prejudiced remarks being posted by some of the group’s administrators and members, but it did not characterize the group as a white supremacist or neo-Nazi group.
Crenshaw appeared on SNL Saturday and accepted an apology from cast member Pete Davidson, who mocked his eye patch on the show the previous week.
“You may be surprised to hear he’s a congressional candidate from Texas and not a hit-man in a porno movie,” Davidson said in an SNL segment Nov. 3. “I’m sorry, I know he lost his eye in war, or whatever.”
Crenshaw, a decorated Navy SEAL veteran, lost his eye in 2012 after he was hit by an IED blast in Afghanistan.
“In what I’m sure was a huge shock for people who know me, I made a poor choice last week,” Davidson said in his apology on SNL Nov. 10. “I made a joke about Lieutenant Commander Dan Crenshaw … and on behalf of the show and myself, I apologize.”
Those who criticized the press coverage of Crenshaw appear to be referencing a report about his membership in a Tea Party Facebook group where some members shared conspiracy theories and posted prejudiced remarks.
Media Matters has exposed posts with anti-Muslim sentiments and posts pushing conspiracy theories, including theories about the murder of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich. The group’s moderators and administrators include several far-right figures.
Jack Posobiec, a group moderator and One America News Network host, once took a photo with white nationalist Richard Spencer and used to call himself “alt-right” before the movement became increasingly associated with white nationalism. Moderator Tom Tancredo has written for the anti-immigration site VDare, which has published pieces from others espousing white nationalist views. Media Matters has called Tancredo a “white-nationalist apologist.”
Eliyokim Cohen, one of the group moderators who runs a pro-Israel website called Jews News, once posted that he is “actually having to root for neo-Nazis” along with a Jews News story about neo-Nazis and Muslim immigrants brawling in Germany. Cohen often posts links to stories from his website that portray Muslims negatively.
Media Matters did not, however, describe the Tea Party group as a Nazi, white nationalist or white supremacist group. The public group was created in 2009 and has over 96,000 members. “We proudly stand with President Trump and his America First agenda!” the group’s description says.
While some of the content veers into conspiratorial or prejudiced territory, the bulk of the posts in the group reflect topics of interest to many conservatives. Recent posts discuss alleged voter fraud, immigration policy and abortion. Some people have posted news stories about CNN’s lawsuit against the White House for revoking White House correspondent Jim Acosta’s press pass.
A Daily Caller News Foundation review of recent posts in the group found no posts advocating for a white ethnostate or antisemitic posts. Neo-Nazi groups Vanguard America and the National Socialist Movement believe that the U.S. should be a white nation and warn against “Jewish influence.”
Crenshaw joined the group in May 2018 and was listed as one of dozens of administrators and moderators at one point, according to Media Matters. Several other Republican congressional candidates, including Senate candidates Corey Stewart of Virginia and Patrick Morrisey of West Virginia, were listed as moderators and administrators of the group.
Crenshaw shared videos from his campaign in the group, but Media Matters did not report that he posted or showed support for any anti-Muslim or conspiracy theorist content. He left the group in August 2018 following publication of a Media Matters post about congressional candidates in the “racist” group.
McElwee stood by his characterization of the group. Hughes did not respond to a request for comment.
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