Newsweek-Daily Beast Scare Story: 'White Supremacist Stampede' for Public Office?

James Taranto at The Wall Street Journal just demolished a scare piece by Newsweek reporter Eve Conant (posted on July 4) with the overwrought headline "White Supremacist Stampede: A startling number of white-power candidates are seeking public office."

If we're being warned of dangerous new wave of white racist extremists, it naturally is another product of the leftist Southern Poverty Law Center, which warns daily of a radical-racist-right takeover of America. Taranto asked: How startling is this wave of white-power candidates from sea to shining sea?

Potok’s group tracked 23 candidates in 2010 with radical right-wing views, nine of whom they described as white supremacists or white nationalists. (The others had extreme immigration and world-conspiracy views but did not specifically have links to white organizations.) One candidate, the neo-Confederate Loy Mauch, won a seat in the Arkansas House of Representatives...

Taranto's rebuttal of the Newsweek reporter, whose article appeared on the Daily Beast website:

Now, the SPLC has been known to exaggerate the prevalence of white supremacy and to smear people by falsely claiming they have white-supremacist sympathies. But even if you take these numbers at face value, they are quite unimpressive. In a country of 300 million, what does the Daily Beast call nine state legislative candidates, eight of whom lose? A stampede!

In Conant's defense, she also tried to scare people that David Duke might run again for president in the 2012 Republican primaries: "A Duke candidacy could have a galvanizing effect. He has been living in Europe in recent years, but maintains a high profile—and stokes his fan base--online." Perhaps Duke can run a front-porch campaign from Europe. Can't you smell the "stampede"?

Naturally, Conant must also connect the white-power fringe to the Tea Party movement. The article's pull quote comes from Don Black of the racist group Stormfront (it's the part in bold type):

Stormfront founder and radio host Don Black tells The Daily Beast the strategy is to start from the ground up, "where we have a chance of winning. It's impossible to get into the Senate or Congress but state legislatures or smaller offices can work." Black says the Tea Party's influence spurred hopes among his ideological soulmates-but that the initial excitement has given way to a realpolitik sense that the Stormfront crowd will have to go it alone. "Many of our people are involved in the Tea Party," says Black. "But much of their leadership is skittish when it comes to talking about racial realities. The Tea Party is a healthy movement but many are too conditioned to run like scared rabbits when called racists."

No office is too small to be scary to Conant when you're trying to find a "stampede."

 In May, the National Socialist Movement's Jeff Hall hit national headlines in a bizarre tragedy: his murder, allegedly at the hands of his 10-year-old son. But before his death, he had campaigned for a low-level water board position in Riverside, California.

He gained 30 percent of the vote as a neo-Nazi, as if Riverside is full of little Hitlers. But do you think most voters have researched who's running for the water board?

Conant also played up "Sergeant" Harriet Paletti, who "has just sent in her résumé to the mayor of New Berlin [Wisconsin], hoping to fill a seat on either the Crime Prevention Committee, Police and Fire Commission, or the Parks and Recreation Board." A volunteer position, she hopes, will build up her run for alderman. Can anyone imagine the mayor of New Berlin giving the "Sergeant" a hand?

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis