February 03, 2020

White nationalist has long worked at conservative outlets under real name
Guardian findings support watchdog’s report that ‘Paul Kersey’, a prominent author and activist, is actually Michael J ThompsonA new report has revealed that a prominent white nationalist author, activist and podcaster known as “Paul Kersey” has in fact worked for more than a decade at mainstream conservative institutions and media outlets under his real name.According to an investigation by the not-for-profit media outlet Right Wing Watch (RWW), the man who has worked under the Kersey pseudonym is in fact Michael J Thompson.The Guardian has uncovered additional material that supports reporting by RWW, and further indicates Thompson’s role in moulding rightwing activists from a position near the heart of America’s most influential conservative institutions.The RWW investigation, published on Monday, reveals the work of “Paul Kersey”, whom it calls a “barely underground member of the white nationalist movement” and a fixture on the roster of racist media outlets and campaign groups.But it also shows that Thompson worked under his own name at institutions like the Leadership Institute, its media arm Campus Reform, and WND, formerly World Net Daily, a once-popular conspiracy-minded conservative outlet, as late as November 2018.It also shows how his WND position allowed him to move in professional circles that included white nationalists, writers from Breitbart and the Daily Caller and prominent Donald Trump supporters including Steve Bannon and Jack Posobiec.RWW determined Thompson’s identity partly through a forensic voice test on audio recordings and partly through emails and testimony provided by Katie McHugh, a former far-right insider and Breitbart writer.Evidence from McHugh underpinned reporting by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) that showed how Trump’s close aide Stephen Miller attempted to insert white nationalist themes into Breitbart’s coverage of the 2016 presidential election.Using the “Paul Kersey” pseudonym in online columns for outlets like VDare and American Renaissance, Thompson has for years whipped up racist fears about black crime; promoted racial paranoia about a demographic “Great Replacement” of white Americans; and spread falsehoods about the genetic inferiority of non-whites.According to RWW, he has run an influential far-right blog, Stuff Black People Don’t Like, since 2009. The blog is focused on promoting false white nationalist ideas about race and crime.He has also regularly appeared as a guest on white nationalist podcasts including Red Ice, The Political Cesspool and Richard Spencer’s AltRight Radio and is currently the co-host of a podcast produced by a prominent SPLC-designated hate group, American Renaissance.But in 2010, RWW reports, he was named in a press release from the Leadership Institute as working in their campus services program. The Guardian was able to confirm this by accessing an archived staff page for Campus Reform, the Leadership Institute’s online vehicle for the prosecution of on-campus culture wars.The Leadership Institute is one of the longest-standing institutions in the US conservative movement, focused on training young activists. It claims to have trained 200,000 such young conservatives over 40 years, in skills including public speaking, campaigning and fundraising.In a series of archived snapshots from the Campus Reform staff page from September 2009 to July 2010, Thompson was listed as campus services coordinator for the western region. This suggests he began his pseudonymous white nationalist blog while employed by the Leadership Institute and its media arm.Campus Reform’s website was established at the beginning of 2009, according to Domain Name System records. It has typically targeted so-called political correctness and professors it deems to be leftists.Using internet archiving services, the Guardian was able to access the full text of previously unreported Campus Reform articles by Thompson. In the bylines for those articles, written in 2009 and 2010, he is described as a “Campus Reform reporter”.In the articles that were archived and accessible, Thompson does not openly use the vocabulary of white nationalism but does explore themes such as race and immigration.One May 2010 article criticizes Colorado State students for staging a walkout in protest against a hardline immigration law passed in Arizona in 2010 and highlights the involvement of some students with an immigrant rights group, La Raza.Another bemoans the decision of a Washington state public college, Evergreen State, to fund a visit by the academic and civil rights activist Angela Davis, calling her a “Marxist agitator”.Many more articles offer instructions, guidance and assistance to conservative student activists.Thompson leads with complaints about political correctness; news of anti-abortion, pro-gun and media activism by conservative students; and exhortations to run for student government.In each case, he appeals to students to reach out to Campus Reform for information, training and organizing assistance.The Guardian has discovered evidence that Thompson was able to make connections between students and members of the conservative movement.A February 2011 guest post on the Campus Reform website by a senior at Utah State University describes that student’s experiences as a sponsored attendee at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), which remains the principal annual gathering of the conservative movement.The author writes: “Michael Thompson, my regional field coordinator … worked diligently to put me in contact with individuals and organizations willing to help me with future activism efforts on my campus.”RWW reports that Thompson worked at WND from at least January 2012 to November 2018.Thompson, American Renaissance leader Jared Taylor and Joseph Farah of WND did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
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