Thursday October 27, 2016

'Alt-right' Trump supporters attack journalists online

When journalist David French criticized Donald Trump, 'alt-right' supporters of the Republican presidential candidate viciously attacked his family, says French. He is among 800 journalists who have been targets of online alt-right attacks, according to a report.

When journalist David French criticized Donald Trump, 'alt-right' supporters of the Republican presidential candidate viciously attacked his family, says French. He is among 800 journalists who have been targets of online alt-right attacks, according to a report. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

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**Warning: Disturbing content**

Earlier this week, when the New York Times attempted to chronicle every person, place and thing Donald Trump has insulted on Twitter during his campaign, the list ran  two full broadsheet pages. 

A loose-knit online group known as the "alt-right" has embraced Trump, and unleashed a torrent of abuse on his perceived enemies — especially journalists and writers. 

Last year, David French criticized the alt-right and told The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti, "The next thing I knew my Twitter feed began to melt down."

French is an attorney and staff writer at the National Review, who is speaking out about the high price he says he's paid for opposing Donald Trump.

He says his youngest daughter who was adopted from Ethiopia was the target for alt-right Trump supporter attacks.

"I saw pictures of her seven-year-old face Photoshopped into makeshift gas chambers with Donald Trump in an SS Nazi uniform pressing the button that would kill her," says French.

Campaign 2016 Trump

At least 800 journalists have received anti-Semitic tweets by alt-right Trump supporters who are targeting those who criticize Trump during the election campaign, according to the ADL report. (Evan Vucci/Associated Press)

"I saw pictures of her Photoshopped and modified to look like she was a slave working in the fields. I saw the worst possible language used to describe her."

The Anti-Defamation League has been monitoring the alt-right movement and its members and have released a report about the hundreds of journalists that have been targeted for abuse.

"There were... over 19,000 tweets directed at 800 journalists," Marilyn Mayo, a research fellow at the Anti-Defamation League's Center on Extremism, tells Tremonti.

Ten journalists received 83 per cent of all the anti-Semetic tweets, according to the ADL report.

Mayo says a lot of the people who are carrying out the harassment online tend to identify as Trump supporters — and journalists who have been critical of the Republican presidential candidate in any way are the target.

"We can't really assign blame to [Trump]. But it is... disturbing that his supporters are anti-Semitic and this is something that has been a very disturbing development over the election cycle."

Mayo tells Tremonti she doesn't see the alt-right going away after the election campaign is done.

"I think they've seen that they've gotten tremendous media attention," says Mayo.

"They existed before the Trump campaign, they're going to exist afterwards."

As for French, although he says his experience has been miserable, he's not backing down.

"I'll say that even though I know it gives the trolls satisfaction that they have caused pain in our family ... it hasn't deterred us in the slightest bit from speaking out," French tells Tremonti.

"In fact it's motivated us because this cannot be the new future of American politics."

"This cannot be the new way in which journalists are treated."

Listen to the full conversation at the top of this post.

This segment was produced by The Current's Kristin Nelson.