About Nick Fuentes
Through his nightly “America First” show and his America First Foundation, Fuentes has stated his aim is to remake the Republican Party into “a truly reactionary party.” In livestreams and public appearances, Fuentes has described his goal as working within the political system to become “the right-wing flank of the Republican Party.” He sees America’s “white demographic core” as central to its identity.
Some Republican lawmakers and conservative pundits have publicly connected themselves with Fuentes. Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., former congressman Steve King, R-Iowa, and Arizona state Sen. Wendy Rogers have appeared at his events. Michelle Malkin, a darling of the anti-immigrant movement, sits on the board of Fuentes’ 501(c)4 America First Foundation. Since 2019, she has positioned herself as a mentor to Fuentes, and some of his followers refer to her as “mommy.”
Fuentes and his fans call themselves “groypers,” which refers to a far-right meme based on a cartoon of a giant toad. At least one of Fuentes’ former allies, Patrick Casey, accused the livestreamer of cultivating a “cult-like atmosphere” among his fans. In response, Fuentes stated in a February 2021 livestream that he did not “think cults are necessary a bad thing” and that “cults are really the only place where there’s … loyalty.”
On Jan. 29, 2022, a House committee investigating the storming of the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021, subpoenaed Fuentes and Casey for their involvement in the anti-democracy “Stop the Steal” movement. Both were outside the Capitol during the insurrection.
In His Own Words
“America, for what it’s worth, was founded by white Christians. It was not founded by Jewish people. It was not founded by Judeo-Christians. It was founded by white Christians. And white Christians are in the majority. Christianity is the religion of this nation. Not Judaism, not the Talmud, not that stuff. It’s just what it is. It’s just a fact. And, you know what? If we’re going to make America great again, we’ve gotta talk about this anti-white thing that’s going on. And if we want to restore America, we’ve got to make America a Christian nation again. And you can understand why influential Jewish people in conservative media are not really gung-ho about that. They’re not promoting white identity. They’re not promoting this. And I don’t think they’re thrilled about the idea of revanchist Christianity. They like the idea of Christianity where we’re all Zionists and we’re all giving money to Israel and this and that, but they’re not really thrilled with just Christianity. They want it to be Judeo-Christianity. They want there to be this acknowledgement and, if we want America to be put first, and if we want to do the right thing by God, I don’t know that there can be a lot of compromise there.” – During a broadcast of “America First,” aired in February 2022
“I’m just like Hitler.” – During a livestream of “America First,” aired in February 2022.
“[Steve] Bannon is the fat r***** that goes on these shows and says, ‘We’re going to have African Americans voting 50% for Republicans, and we’re going to flood the zone with n***** votes.’ That’s, like, literally he goes on these shows and says that. That one slipped out.” – During a broadcast of “America First,” aired in January 2022
“We have got to be on the right, dragging these people kicking and screaming into the future. … Into a truly reactionary party. It’s incremental. We’re not going to drag them all the way over. But if we can drag the furthest part of the right further to the right, and we can drag the center further to the right, and we can drag the left further to the right … then we’re winning.” – During a livestream of “America First,” aired in May 2021
“Republicans just screwed us every day for two months straight, and we have no recourse. Why? Because we have no leverage. What are we going to do to them? What can you and I do to a state legislator besides kill them? We should not do that. I’m not advertising that, but I mean, what else can you do, right?” – During a broadcast of “America First,” aired on Jan. 4, 2021, two days before the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C.
“We can’t play this game of, ‘We disavow white supremacy.’ Notice how the claws come out. All these p******, frankly. And, again, sorry for the language but that’s what it is. People like, who’s this, Matt Walsh guy? Total f***** p****. And he’s always like this. When a white person does a shooting, suddenly he’s a big tough guy. … Matt Walsh, shabbos goy race traitor. That’s what it is, folks. I know some people don’t like to use that expression, but it’s totally true – throwing his own people under the bus. He hates white people. Nobody else talks like that about their own people except for white people and it’s gross. … Yeah, OK, keep typing on Twitter dot com, f*****. F*****. P****. Race traitor – you work for Jews, you know.” – During a now-deleted broadcast of “America First,” aired in August 2019
“You can call us racists, white supremacists, Nazis, & bigots. You can disavow us on social media from your cushy Campus Reform job. But you will not replace us. The rootless transnational elite knows that a tidal wave of white identity is coming. And they know that once the word gets out, they will not be able to stop us. The fire rises!” – In a Facebook post, following the deadly 2017 “Unite the Right” rally, Aug. 12, 2017
Fuentes, an Illinois native, started livestreaming during his freshman year at Boston University. He studied politics and international relations and started hosting the political talk show “America First” on the Trump-aligned Right Side Broadcasting Network in February 2017. Fuentes’ show aired nightly on the network and featured far-right political commentary, with a focus on immigration and multiculturalism. Despite an on-air rant where Fuentes encouraged people to “kill the globalists” during an April 19, 2017 livestream, as reported by Media Matters at the time, Right Side Broadcasting continued to host him until he attended the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Aug. 12, 2017.
Fuentes said he attended the rally to protest what he called “cultural genocide,” according to an interview with Yahoo News. In Facebook posts and interviews with news outlets, Fuentes presented the chaotic event, which left three dead and injured dozens of others, as a success.
“You can call us racists, white supremacists, Nazis & bigots. … But you will not replace us,” Fuentes wrote in a Facebook post, referencing one of the “Unite the Right” participants’ chants. The event, he continued, would unleash a “tidal wave of white identity.” Fuentes’ comment about replacement refers to a chant extremists uttered at the event. French far-right author Renaud Camus first popularized the phrase “great replacement,” a phrase white nationalists like Fuentes commonly use to suggest that elites, sometimes specifically Jewish people, seek to replace the white population in Western countries with non-white immigrants.
Right Side Broadcasting Network announced they parted ways with Fuentes following “Unite the Right” and described it as a “mutual decision.” Fuentes asserted in a February 2022 Telegram post that Right Side Broadcasting Network’s CEO Joe Seales fired him. A few days after departing the network, Fuentes announced he would be joining with James Allsup, another “Unite the Right” attendee, to host the self-described alt-right and paleoconservative podcast, “Nationalist Review.” Fuentes and Allsup did not collaborate for long. In mid-January of 2018, America First Media, Allsup’s white nationalist media outlet announced it had “parted ways” with Fuentes. In a Periscope livestream, Fuentes derided Allsup for allegedly showing up late or missing “Nationalist Review” broadcasts altogether.
Fuentes spoke at the American Renaissance conference in April 2018. Known among white nationalists by its shorthand “AmRen,” the event functions like a self-styled think tank promoting racist pseudo-science. Kevin DeAnna, who Hatewatch previously determined has contributed to American Renaissance’s blog under the pseudonym “Gregory Hood” since 2008, described Fuentes, then 19, as “the youngest person ever to speak at one of conferences.” In his speech, Fuentes blamed older generations of Americans for failing to uphold white supremacy and racist institutions, while arguing that his generation might provide a fruitful recruitment pool for far-right extremists. While insisting he was not a white nationalist, Fuentes, who once described himself to the digital media outlet Mic as “about 25% Mexican,” endorsed white ethnonationalist politics around this same time.
“The reason I wouldn’t call myself a white nationalist – it’s not because I don’t see the necessity for white people to have a homeland and for white people to have a country. It’s because that kind of terminology is used almost exclusively by the left to defame,” Fuentes said in a May 2018 podcast with Richard Spencer and Jean-François Gariépy.
“Maybe it might be descriptive to call someone a white nationalist, but I think it sort of loses something when an average person hears that and it’s almost synonymous with ‘Nazi’ or ‘villain’ or whatever. So, I would say I’m a white person. I’m conscious of my white identity, conscious of nationalism.”
He also frequently relies on antisemitic tropes about Jewish control of media and political institutions. He argues that America is a Christian nation and specifies that it is not a “Judeo-Christian” one. “We want a Christian society,” he wrote on Telegram in January 2022. “No prefix, no suffix. We want Christ.”
From ‘alt-right’ to AFPAC
Fuentes denounces mainstream conservative institutions, arguing that “Christian Republican voters get screwed over” because “the GOP is run by Jews, atheists, and homosexuals.” He has cited this as a justification for carving out his own alternative far-right coalition within them. Adherents of the so-called “alt-right” label took different tracks after that coalition collapsed, and Fuentes has become emblematic of the one that sought to mainstream recognition in that manner. SPLC uses the term “alt-right,” short for “alternative right,” to describe a loose coalition of far-right groups and individuals, active from 2014 to early 2018, who sought to push white ethnonationalism into the mainstream through Internet forums, social media and traditional organizing. Richard Spencer, the president of the now-defunct National Policy Institute and an organizer of the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally, promoted the term, and is the figure who was most closely associated with the label.
While some former alt-right adherents gravitated toward terroristic, white power accelerationism, Fuentes chose a different path. He has instead collaborated with elected officials and conservative activists to attempt to push the Republican Party and American political institutions into a more hard-right, authoritarian ideological position. As a result, his approach to mainstream conservative politics has mirrored that of such white nationalists as American Renaissance and VDARE staffer Kevin DeAnna (writing as Gregory Hood), who has described the alt-right as “trying to replace conservatism.”
Fuentes outlined his strategy for pushing his movement forward in a post-“alt-right” world in an April 2019 members-only episode of his show, “America First.” As Ben Lorber reported in Political Research Associate’s magazine, The Public Eye, Fuentes implored his followers to “break away and form a new periphery” separate from the alt-right. He encouraged them to infiltrate mainstream conservative institutions.
“Bit by bit we start to break down these walls and we start to get back in … and then one day, we become the mainstream,” he said, referring to right-wing organizations’ efforts to keep white nationalists from joining their ranks. To do so, he continued, would require “changing our look and aesthetic to blend in … put on the American flag … make the appearance of ‘Hey, maybe we can create this new space, maybe there are these new guys … they’re a little bit out there, but they’re not like these other guys [the alt-right]. … There’s maybe this new category.’ … That’s the kind of uncertainty we have to create.”
Working with former Identity Evropa leader Patrick Casey, Fuentes attempted to put this strategy into action in 2019. In October and November of that year, Fuentes, Casey, and their supporters, known as “groypers,” disrupted several on-campus speaking events sponsored by the conservative youth organization Turning Point USA. These events, which took place at UCLA, Texas A&M University, Ohio State University and elsewhere, featured a variety of mainstream conservative speakers, such as Donald Trump Jr. The goal, Lorber noted, “was to drive a wedge between leading right-wing figures, portrayed as emblems of a milquetoast, degenerate conservative establishment … and the movement’s energetic, ultra-nationalist, and youthful future.”
Fuentes and Casey clashed directly with the conservative establishment as a result of the protests. Michelle Malkin, a longtime anti-immigrant pundit and founder of two popular conservative media outlets, supported their cause. Malkin, then an adviser to the conservative youth organization Young America Foundation, praised Fuentes’ movement in a Nov. 14, 2019, address at UCLA. There, she described Fuentes, Casey, and others as “the new generation of America Firsters exposing the big lies of the anti-American open borders establishment.”
With support from Casey and Malkin, Fuentes carved out the “new space” he envisioned for his movement in February 2020 with the launch of the America First Political Action Conference, more commonly known as AFPAC. The first annual event hosted by AFPAC took place on Feb. 28, 2020, alongside the more mainstream Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, on the outskirts of Washington, D.C. Fuentes marketed the event as an alternative to CPAC.
“The America First movement has basically taken the initiative as the central challenger to conservative inc,” Fuentes wrote in a series of posts on Telegram on Mar. 1, 2020. Certain far-right extremists use the phrase “Conservative Inc.” as a pejorative to refer to mainstream right-wing institutions. “We are consolidating the dissident Right sphere behind America First against conservative inc … AFPAC vs CPAC! America First vs [Conservative] Inc – this is the dialectic.”
Prior to the Florida-based 2021 AFPAC, the second iteration of the event, Fuentes debuted his America First Foundation, a 501(c)4 with the mission “to educate, promote, and advocate for conservative values based on principles of American Nationalism, Christianity, and Traditionalism.” Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., and former congressman Steve King, R-Iowa, shared a stage with Fuentes and other white nationalist propagandists, creating controversy for the politicians. TheWashington Post reported after the event that Gosar said during a CPAC panel that he opposed “white racism.” However, Gosar has since defended Fuentes, calling the Jan. 6 Committee’s efforts to investigate the livestreamer’s activities during “Stop the Steal” as a an example of “pure political persecution.”
Likewise, as Hatewatch reported at the time, at least two former congressional candidates, Lauren Witzke and Laura Loomer, also attended the event. Despite the presence of Gosar and King, speakers and attendees took aim at the Republican Party, with attendees at one point chanting, “Death to the GOP.”
“People like us are going to primary every last spineless and traitorous member of the Republican Party in 2022,” Vincent James Foxx, a livestreamer and former propagandist for the racist fight club Rise Above Movement, noted in his speech. “We are going to completely transform the party . . . and out of its ashes will finally ride a true right-wing, reactionary force.”
Andrew Anglin, a neo-Nazi propagandist and editor of the Daily Stormer, wrote to his followers after the 2021 AFPAC event to applaud Fuentes’ strategy. Anglin is an outspoken admirer of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany.
“There is a clear trajectory towards the mainstream,” Anglin wrote. “Obviously, both [Steve] King and [Michelle] Malkin are now marginal figures, but they are from the mainstream. Getting a sitting congressman to appear is just fantastic. This is exactly how you would go about achieving … normalcy.”
‘Stop the Steal’
Soon after Trump started to promote lies about the outcome of the 2020 election, Fuentes emerged as one of the president’s most loyal defenders on the national stage. Alongside such extremists as Ali Alexander, Patrick Casey, Alex Jones and Timothy “Baked Alaska” Gionet, he galvanized crowds of young, almost exclusively white men at so-called “Stop the Steal” events across the country, which focused on upending Joe Biden’s victory and installing Trump as president for a second term he did not win. Some Fuentes allies, such as Australian livestreamer Tor Brookes, known as “Catboy Kami” online, recorded themselves harassing Biden supporters who were people of color, according to the Australian news outlet ABC. Fuentes, and fans waving his “America First”-branded flag, appeared at events in Arizona, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., in the runup to what later led to the “Stop the Steal” rally in D.C. and the attack on the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021.
“Take a look at this crowd. This is a crowd of young men. And if there’s anything that the globalist establishment has to fear, it is Christian, patriotic young men,” Fuentes told a crowd in Harrisburg at the Pennsylvania state Capitol on Dec. 6, 2020.
Fuentes also hyped outrage over the election results through his livestreams, which he held at that time on the fringe, youth-targeted gaming platform DLive. Fuentes’ livestreams in the runup to Jan. 6 took on a markedly more vicious tone. On Jan. 4, 2021, he appeared to float the idea of killing some Republican lawmakers as retribution for not actively promoting Trump’s election lies before seemingly walking it back to express something more equivocal.
“Republicans just screwed us every day for two months straight, and we have no recourse. Why? Because we have no leverage. What are we going to do to them? What can you and I do to a state legislator besides kill them?” he said. “We should not do that. I’m not advising that, but I mean what else can you do, right? Nothing.”
Fuentes attended Trump’s Jan. 6 speech near the White House. Later that day, he once again stirred crowds of young men in advance of the attack on the U.S. Capitol building. Although he never entered the Capitol building himself, he wore a VIP badge to Trump’s speech. It’s unclear how he obtained the VIP badge or whether anyone in the Trump administration had contact with him in advance of that day. He also addressed supporters outside the Capitol building while the insurrection took place. Video and photos captured someone flying the Fuentes’ branded-America First flag inside the Capitol building while the violence took place.
In prior communications to Hatewatch through his lawyer, Fuentes asserted that he did not participate in the insurrection and that “he abhors political violence.” While Fuentes did not enter the Capitol, someone took a video outside the building purporting to capture Fuentes’ rally remarks. In the video Hatewatch reviewed, a person who appears to be Fuentes shouts into a blowhorn, encouraging Trump supporters to “break down the barriers and disregard the police. This Capitol belongs to us now.”
Since then, Fuentes has spun conspiracies about Jan. 6 and explicitly celebrated his role in promoting lies about the 2020 election. In Feb. 2021, he tweeted that the insurrection on the U.S. Capitol “was just a big psyop/false flag.” Later that year, he started calling Jan. 6 “awesome.” On the one-year anniversary of Jan. 6, he told his livestream audience in explicit terms to treat the date as a holiday. He called it “part of our new heritage” and “part of our new history.”
“This is a holiday. This is a historic moment for us. We should celebrate that it happened, absolutely. And I said this on Telegram late last night, after midnight so it was technically January 6, I don’t regret a thing about my actions on January 6, and I don’t regret … anything that I did leading up to it in the three months prior, since Nov. 3, 2020,” he said.
Fuentes has claimed financial and legal setbacks as a result of investigations into his alleged participation in the “Stop the Steal” movement. In April 2021, he told his audience, “I woke up and one of my checking accounts – one of my checking accounts, which has lots and lots and lots of money in it, had zero dollars.” The House committee seeking information on Jan. 6 issued a subpoena to Fuentes on Jan. 19, 2022, which included a press release confirming that the FBI had probed Fuentes’ finances in the aftermath of the attack. Fuentes’ sharpened his rhetoric about the federal government after facing scrutiny from law enforcement and law makers.
“These people are pigs. That’s what they are. Pigs. They roll around in the mud like dirty little pigs,” he said of the federal government on a livestream in January 2022.
Platforms and cryptocurrency
Outside of the neo-Nazi Anglin, few U.S. extremists have demonstrated the degree of online adaptability that Fuentes has since he became a fixture in circles trafficking in white supremacist ideologies. Tech companies have forced Fuentes, like Anglin, into that position by removing him from mainstream platforms in response to his voicing hateful views. YouTube, Facebook, Twitch, Twitter and even DLive and the pro-Trump site GETTR have suspended Fuentes from their services, leaving him to cobble together an approach to reaching the public that relies on independently created streaming services, and fringe, say-anything platforms such as Telegram and Gab.
Fuentes rose to prominence through YouTube, where he generated donations through the company’s Super Chat function, which elevates commenters’ words to prominence on the screen in exchange for a fee. YouTube suspended Fuentes in 2020, at which point he decamped to DLive, which offered a similar service, buoyed by an in-house cryptocurrency system. DLive suspended Fuentes in 2021, following the Jan. 6 insurrection. Fuentes responded in October 2021 by mounting Cozy.TV, an independent livestreaming service that functions like those other platforms and enables him more freedom to speak without being tied to a company’s terms. Fuentes kept the format of his shows the same after going independent.
SPLC’s Hatewatch reported in November 2021 that a group of men who also collaborate with Infowars’ Alex Jones helped Fuentes build Cozy.TV. Michael Zimmermann, who served as the IT director for Alex Jones’ Infowars and worked for the extremist-friendly domain registry Epik, also worked with Fuentes on staging his videos. Zimmermann used Epik to register the domain “tarrantmanfiesto.com” hours after convicted terrorist Brenton Tarrant gunned down 51 Muslim people at Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, on March 15, 2019. Simon Dickerman, another Fuentes digital collaborator, has participated in the white supremacist movement since at least 2017, when he helped stage a protest targeting Black immigrants outside the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch, Tennessee, while traumatized victims of a recent mass shooting prayed inside. SPLC’s Hatewatch found Dickerman, who goes by the internet pseudonym “Simon Sasquatch” working a video camera at a Fuentes-led “Vax Watch” event in November 2021. Fuentes commonly produces heavily edited propaganda videos to showcase his events to fans.
Fuentes built up part of his audience on Twitter, which gave him a verified account after he appeared on the white supremacist side of Charlottesville’s “Unite the Right” event. When Twitter verified Fuentes, few people knew him outside of his connections to far-right extremism. As of 2021, Fuentes amassed more than 135,000 followers on Twitter. He praised Twitter for helping him reconnect with his fans after streaming sites deplatformed him.
“We retained 80% of the viewership,” Fuentes said on a Jan. 20 broadcast regarding his transition from DLive to independent streaming methods. “I mean that’s a pretty big deal. It’s hard to overstate what a big deal that is … just by saying, ‘Hey check me out on Twitter.’”
Twitter suspended Fuentes days after SPLC’s Hatewatch published a report about their platform in July 2021. He has since built up a substantial following on the social network Gab, whose lax policies have made it a white supremacist-friendly haven. Gab’s metrics claim Fuentes has a following that exceeds 100,000 accounts, but critics, including former collaborators, have accused the company of inflating follower numbers to appear larger than they are. Fuentes also reaches fans through Telegram, the messaging app with a large base of white supremacist users who flocked there during the Trump era. Fuentes attempted to build a following on the pro-Trump social media site GETTR but the company suspended him in December 2021.
Along with social media and streaming services, Fuentes has worked around traditional banking services and is a proponent of cryptocurrency. He traffics in at least Bitcoin and Litecoin. Fuentes also uses a service called BitPay on his sites, which autogenerates new wallets during every transaction. BitPay’s autogenerating system, which is also used by the military wing of Hamas, makes donations difficult for researchers to track because it obscures their origins. French computer programmer Laurent Bachelier, who also donated to Anglin of the Daily Stormer and the white nationalist non-profit VDARE, gave 13.5 Bitcoin to Fuentes in December 2020, which at the time amounted to roughly $400,000 U.S. dollars. Bachelier killed himself by intentional drug overdose shortly thereafter, reportedly after a prolonged battle with a debilitating medical condition.