Why would a right-wing extremist shoot up the Holocaust Museum? To get the message out. And it's working—news networks are turning to neo-Nazi John de Nugent for background on James von Brunn. He's thrilled about the publicity.
Rachel Sklar attacked NBC News' Pete Williams for interviewing de Nugent (what is it with right-wing extremists and their foppish names?) for the Nightly News last night because de Nugent claims to have spoken with the accused killer just two weeks ago. Williams wasn't alone—as Sklar notes, de Nugent has turned up on ABC News, CBS News, Fox News Channel, the Washington Post, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Bloomberg, the Associated Press, and the BBC to offer his insights into von Brunn and the vicious right-wing extremist views that the two men share.
We know why NBC News and the rest gave de Nugent a platform: They wanted to report his claim that von Brunn didn't mention Barack Obama in their last converation, and that he was complaining about his Social Security benefit being slashed in half and having trouble making ends meet.
We also know why de Nugent wanted that platform. He wrote about it on his blog:
I am sure you are aware of the James von Brunn situation. At least I was able to turn some bad PR lemons into lemonade last night and yesterday, and I got to 1) explain how understandable white anger is, and 2) how Obama needs to assuage heightened white fears about gun and speech control or he will, by everything he does, provoke even more incidents.
I was interviewed at length by ABC Good Morning America, ABC Nightly News, the CBS Early Show, Fox News (Sheppard Smith Report), NBC Nightly News, the Washington Post, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Bloomberg, and Associated Press.
I talked to all the electronic and print media about "White Heritage Safety Zones" in every interview - and the cameramen at least were all enthralled!
What gratified me was that major news reporters were interviewing me in-depth on my own racial project as well as the Von Brunn tragedy, and although they used on live TV only the direct Von Brunn information I gave them - none of it hostile, but just explanatory – they seemed quite impressed with my Solutrean vision as well. After scheduling me for ten minutes, they often let the cameras roll for 30 minutes (even using up a whole 30-minute-block of satellite time).
And I am happy to say that I 1) put the onus on Obama and liberals for white rage, and I helped the truth win out that 2) James von Brunn was indeed acting alone, and thus there was no reason to have any mass government round-up of WN leaders or followers.
So there you have it. A right-wing extremist neo-Nazi says he spoke to von Brunn two weeks ago and that von Brunn seemed totally normal and just under financial strain and therefore acted alone so move along folks, nothing to see here. While you're at it, though, do you mind if I tell you about my interesting ideas on race? Or, barring that, at least let me look respectable in a coat and tie on your air?
There's nothing wrong with gathering information from someone claiming to be one of the last people to have spoken to von Brunn before the attack. But did Williams and everybody else have to put him on the air to do that? Or report his claims without mentioning that they are likely lies coming from a damaged mind and designed to support his agenda of dissociating his "white nationalist" movement from the utterly predictable actions of one of its members?
De Nugent is reveling in his media moment. He even made sure that his interlocutors described him according to his own deranged taxonomy, as opposed to the truth:
I am also happy to say that most media more or less correctly called me a "white separatist" and NOT a "white supremacist" after I made that point crystal-clear.
As you can see from the image above, NBC News happily obliged.