Meet the Breitbarts of the World
Populist, alt-right outlets are on the rise worldwide, not just in America.
The alt-right isn't just a U.S. phenomenon. Worldwide, upstart online sites modeled on the Breitbart News strategy of current affairs and commentary posts, conspiracy theories and click-bait headlines have made inroads, riding a wave of nationalist and anti-globalization sentiment and benefiting from the increasing importance of social media.
"My sense is [these sites] are not getting a huge amount of traction at the moment, because national news media tends to be stronger in countries [outside the U.S.] and social media use is lower," says Nic Newman from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism in London. “But it's rising fast. In the U.K., we found among 18-24 year-olds, around a quarter use social media as their primary source of news. A few years ago, it was around 1 percent-2 percent. And social media use fuels these sites, giving visibility to more extreme, ferocious views."
Donald Trump's victory in the U.S. presidential election and the appointment of former Breitbart CEO Stephen Bannon as chief strategist for the new administration has given heart to these sites — from Brazil, to Germany, Japan to Canada (yes, even Canada) — to up their rhetoric and push for a Trump-like uprising at home.
Oh and Breitbart itself, which has already launched outlets in Israel and the U.K., has announced plans to roll out in both France and Germany ahead of elections in those two countries in 2017.
Here is THR's look at Breitbart or similar operations in various countries:
Fdesouche.com, SOS Racisme Anti-White
Fdesouche.com is the cornerstone of the French alt-right, aggregating stories about immigration, Islam and crime. “16 Gypsies Rob Tourists at the Eiffel Tower” is a typical headline.
The site is generally tamer than Breitbart but serves as the public face for a wide spectrum of more extreme French alt-right outlets, including Brujitafr.fr (sample headline: “President Obama to unleash devastating solar storm before Trump takes office”) and popular Facebook site SOS Racisme Anti-White, which recently posted a meme of mugshots of Islamic terrorists with the headline: “Juppe's government cabinet 2017,” referring to the centrist conservative politician Alain Juppe, one of the candidates for the French presidency in next year's elections.
In Paris, the government has been proactive in combating these and other conspiracy theory sites, launching its own website on how to detect and dissect fake news.
Alt-right sites have had a tough time gaining traction in the Britain, in part because the country's notorious tabloids already occupy much of the same space (a columnist for top tab The Daily Mail, for example, advocated for gun boats to shoot refugees trying to flee across the Mediterranean to Europe).
But a British version of Breitbart, launched in 2015, has seen readership jump 135 percent year-over-year and boasted 15 million page views in July, giving it a bigger reach than Vice Media in the U.K. There are also political ties: Breitbart London’s Editor-in-Chief Raheem Kassam is a former adviser to Nigel Farage, the face of the Brexit campaign and an adviser on Trump's campaign.
Founded by German teacher Stefan Herre in 2004 to combat “anti-Americanism” following the re-election of George W. Bush, Politically Incorrect saw its popularity surge following the Muhammad cartoons controversy as it shifted its coverage, becoming overtly anti-Islamic.
The site sells "Islamophobic and proud" T-shirts. It openly backs Alternative for Germany (AfD), an anti-immigration and anti-European Union party expected to make major gains in next year's national elections.
Registered in California, this Hungarian-language site (named after the rebels who fought for independence in the late 17th and early 18th centuries), includes news categories such as "gypsy-crime,” “migrant crime” and “Jewish crime” and regularly posts racist anti-Semitic and gypsy jokes in its “humor” section.
Kuruc recently posted a story about Hungarian Son of Saul actor Geza Rohrig doing a photo shoot for New York department store Barneys under the headline “Auschwitz fashion plate.”
One of the top 10 news sites in The Netherlands, GeenStijl (literally “without style”) is more prankster than political — it's staged several media hoaxes, including a famous (false) claim that it would bus in voters to unseat a prominent politician facing reelection.
But the site has been criticized for allowing xenophobic and racist comments to flourish in its comments section. GeenStijl is infamous for using a variety of terms, many invented by editors and readers, to refer to immigrants.
The Hoshu-Sokuho ("Conservative Bulletin") website acts as the mouthpiece for the country's Net-uyoku ("Internet-Right"), a small but vocal ultra-nationalist minority whose main preoccupations include the evils of China, South Korea and domestic liberals.
Among its recent articles was a report claiming that Fuji TV — part of the country's largest conservative broadcast and print media group — has been infiltrated by Koreans who are inserting subliminal anti-Japanese messages in its programs. It has reveled in Trump's victory and ran the entire article, with a Japanese translation, from the American Spectator that claimed Hillary Clinton had a meltdown on election night.
Liberal Canada's Breitbart copy is The Rebel. Launched by popular TV talk show host Ezra Levant last year after Canada's Fox News equivalent, Sun News Network, shut down, The Rebel mostly avoids race-baiting, but it is anti-immigrant and often anti-Islam, and it regularly posts climate change denials.
“Hole in the ozone layer” hoax was the dry run for “global warming,” said a recent headline, and The Rebel enjoys taunting the “liberal elite.” Post-election, the site carried an op-ed addressed to anti-Trump celebrities, telling them not to emigrate north. "We have more than our share of left-wing loonies here," it said.
Down under, racist memes and anti-immigration rhetoric has found an online home under the hashtag #DingoTwitter and related video podcast @TheDingoes’, which has attracted mainstream media attention for provocative statements about Aboriginal Australians.
For example, it has said that they “belong to a separate species and must be segregated...to restrict their atavistic dark energies." It has also said that Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is "a merchant banker, and his mother was likely Jewish."
Right-wing blogger and fervent libertarian Rodrigo Constantino deliberately modeled his brand of populist, politically incorrect commentary on Breitbart. His posts have slammed feminists, called affirmative action a form of racism and pushed for harsher prison sentences for teenagers.
But Constantino found his cause as the figurehead of The Free Brazil movement, dedicated to attacking Brazilian Prime Minister Dilma Rousseff (“the great villain of our country”). When Brazil's Senate impeached Rousseff on corruption charges, Constantino claimed his first major scalp.
Rhonda Richford in Paris and Gavin Blair in Tokyo contributed to this report.