Recently I reported on Dr. Eoin Lenihan, a right-wing troll who made videos mocking the Left under the pseudonym “ProgDad.” Lenihan, perhaps weary of getting banned from Twitter for harassing other users, apparently took his hatred of anti-fascists and tried to turn it into a full-time gig. In a deeply flawed study he conducted, Lenihan connected a number of prominent journalists to the anti-fascist movement.
The study was mainly picked up by fringe websites that typically peddle this sort of nonsense — Infowars comes to mind.
However it managed to work its way to Quillette, an online journal with articles sympathetic to phrenology and the academic rigor of a chain letter. When the Columbia Journalism Review published a piece by Jared Holt that criticized the study and raised questions about Quillette’s fact-checking process, its founding editor, Claire Lehmann, called Holt an “activist posing as a journalist.” Lehmann spent the rest of the night dodging questions.
The story was then picked up by an obscure right-wing website called The Post Millennial, which defended Lenihan’s integrity and his research. In the article, “An activist journalist tried to take down Quillette; it backfired,” Ana Slatz wrote that he “was contracted to work with the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change as an expert combatting far-right extremism” and “currently works with the Centre for the Analysis of the Radical Right (CARR).”
When journalist Patrick Strickland reached out to the Tony Blair Institute to inquire about whether Lenihan was ever contracted to work there, a spokesperson informed him that they “have absolutely no record of him having been contracted by the Institute.” Slatz, who as editor of a student newspaper allowed a Neo-Nazi to write an op-ed and took a stand against making corrections to articles, quietly changed her language to say Lenihan had “won a contract” to work with the Institute.
And today, CARR put out a statement refuting the claim that Lenihan “currently works” with the organization. According to the statement, Lenihan “is not, nor has ever been, ‘currently working’ with the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right (CARR).” While they communicated with Lenihan about “the possibility of setting up an online platform for countering radical right extremism,” they were unaware of his “discredited research.”
It added that the Center “repudiate[s] Dr Lenihan’s behaviour in the strongest possible terms” and he “never will” be associated with CARR, its website, or any of its events.
This statement came out just after The Post Millennial published an article by Lenihan in which the alleged extremism expert whined about being the target of a “smear campaign” and told obvious falsehoods about his “ProgDad” persona. For example, Lenihan wrote that ProgDad was “never abusive” and “never racist.” But Lenihan’s ProgDad tweets tell a different story.
For example, he tweeted a racist statement at rapper Talib Kweli in which he called Kweli “massa”:
And in a subsequent video targeting Kweli, Lenihan pulled out a belt and called himself Kweli’s “daddy.” “Don’t worry, I’m about to break the cycle of fatherlessness in your bloodline. I’m about to be your big, black, Irish daddy, Talib,” Lenihan said before referring to Kweli as a “boy.” Lenihan’s trolling was most certainly racist and abusive, contrary to his claim in The Post Millennial.
Lenihan also defended an interview he conducted with white supremacist congressional candidate Paul Nehlen in January 2018. Lenihan wrote that he interviewed Nehlen “before he descended into an obvious white supremacist” and “got him to admit that he was far-right—something that the mainstream media at the time had failed to do.” Neither of these claims are true.
Having cataloged Nehlen’s radicalization since 2016, I know that Nehlen was an overt white nationalist and antisemite by the date of Lenihan’s interview. In 2016 Nehlen appeared on the white power podcast Fash the Nation to rail against Muslims and birthright citizenship. By December 7, 2017 I compiled all the available evidence that Nehlen was, in fact, a white nationalist.
This included calling an African-American writer “Tyrone” on Twitter, promoting 4chan’s “It’s Okay To Be White” meme, and retweeting both the white supremacist hate group Identity Evropa and Neo-Nazi Mark Collett. Two days after I published that piece, Nehlen made another guest appearance on Fash the Nation. Nehlen boasted about “stand[ing] in the face of the people” who “throw their parentheses at you” — in reference to the antisemitic echo meme.
On December 16, 2017, HuffPost published an article by Christopher Mathias which summed up the evidence of Nehlen’s racist beliefs. Mathias reached out to Nehlen to ask him point blank if he was a white nationalist — a question Nehlen dodged in favor of replying that it’s “pretty awesome” to be white. On December 18, 2017, Jared Holt at Right Wing Watch revealed that Paul Nehlen was attempting to shift the “Overton Window to the right.”
By the end of December, Nehlen was openly promoting The Culture of Critique, an antisemitic tome by former university professor Kevin MacDonald. By this point, even Steve Bannon and the far-right website Breitbart had severed ties with Nehlen over his extreme antisemitism. Around the same time he tweeted a fascist meme about throwing political opponents from helicopters.
By early January Nehlen began to melt down on Twitter, sharing overtly white supremacist articles and memes, including this one:
By January 12, 2018, the day before the interview was posted to YouTube, BuzzFeed News released an article revealing the contents of an alt-right Twitter DM group Nehlen was a member of. Messages focused on how to fight back against the “Jewish media.” Nehlen was also quoted as saying that there “are a list of goys attacking me, and a separate list of Jews.” Nehlen threatened to “decimate them all” with the help of his racist fans.
By this point Lenihan either didn’t know Nehlen was an overt white supremacist, signifying a failure to monitor the radical Right, or didn’t care. The contents of the interview seem to point to the latter choice, however. In the hour and fourteen minute interview that is currently on YouTube in an unlisted state, Lenihan stayed in character and kept things cordial.
He let Nehlen give information on his background and promote his “Shall Not Censor” bill — a legislative proposal that would prevent social media platforms from banning hate speech like the kind Nehlen regularly engaged in.
To give an idea of whether or not Lenihan pushed back against Nehlen’s ideas, in response to Nehlen’s proposal of pardoning Clint Lorance — a soldier who was sentenced to 19 years in prison for killing two Afghan civilians — Lenihan jokingly suggested soldiers should have taken “Toastmasters, and learned to use their words instead of guns.”
After Lenihan asked Nehlen what he thought of migration into the U.S. and Europe, Nehlen responded that he saw “absolute parallels with bringing people into these Nordic countries.” “You don’t see people leaving white countries to go to other white countries,” Nehlen insisted, adding that “Canada is not streaming across our northern border.” Lenihan named Canadian-American actors and said that “Hollywood is run by Canadians” — a reference to the myth that Hollywood is run by Jews.
Nehlen caught the reference easily, replying that “Hollywood’s run by somebody, I don’t know that I would say it’s Canadians, but okay, if you wanna call ’em Canadians. That’s a new euphemism.” Lenihan then chuckled and told Nehlen to do a Google search for Canadian actors and actresses. When Paul Nehlen announced that he was “proud to be white,” Lenihan said he would have to “issue a trigger warning” on behalf of his audience.
At one point Lenihan asked Nehlen what he planned on doing for “Americans of Irish descent” — or what Lenihan referred to as AIDs. “There’s millions of us out there, there’s millions of AIDs in America,” he told Nehlen, “and my problem is that Paul Ryan has done absolutely nothing to stop bullying of AIDs in America.” As an example of “bullying” Lenihan said he was called a “potato n-i-g-g…” and a “bog trotter” on Twitter.
“I want to know if you get into Congress, what will you do to break up the stigma surrounding AIDs?” he asked as Nehlen tried to stifle a laugh.
Nehlen then took this opportunity to launch into an uninterrupted antisemitic tirade. “Now, if someone’s jammin’ their Jewishness in my face and causin’ problems for me, then I start noticing things,” he exclaimed. “And now I can’t stop noticing things. You know, if I had Irish people who were comin’ at me all the time and givin’ me grief about — for whatever reason — then I guess I might have a different opinion about that.”
“But there’s really just one race that is seemingly wanting to attack me when I wanna stop big trade deals or bad tax proposals or schemes or diversity programs,” he complained. “You know, the Irish aren’t comin’ after me. Germans are’t comin’ after me. The Brits aren’t comin’ after me. The Jews are comin’ after me. A specific group of them.”
Lenihan allowed this racist drivel to spew forth unchallenged and uncorrected. His interview turned up nothing about Paul Nehlen’s bigotry that hadn’t been revealed by writers who dedicate their lives to monitoring hate movements. Instead of acting as a researcher or an interviewer, Lenihan acted like a clown, telling jokes designed to please his far-right audience of dim-witted groypers.
The comments under the video show that, if this was an earnest attempt at an interview, it was an utter failure. “Greetings from the Alt Right and the Daily Stormer. Thank you for doing the interview,” wrote tszymk77. “Progressive Dad noe de wey,” said Sammy G, a user with a gun-toting groyper as his avatar. Ray Poward told Lenihan “Daily Stormer brought me here. Thanks for giving Paul a soapbox.”
One trollishly wrote that Lenihan “cornered Nehlen by getting him to confess that he will not support upgrading our troops Toastmasters skills.” Lenihan liked the comment and responded, “I think this was a crushing win too. I expect he’ll announce he’s running on the Democratic ticked [sic] by the end of the week. Full-blown conversion job!”
At the end of the interview Lenihan thanked Nehlen for coming on his show, and even offered him a free campaign slogan. “I’m thinkin’, perfect slogan: Paul Nehlen, tough as nails for Wisconsin.”