Rebel, Rebel, your site is a mess

Simon Murdoch - 18 08 17

Within the past week Canadian-based, international far-right alternative media platform Rebel Media has had a “tough week”, as Rebel Media founder and self-proclaimed ‘Rebel Commander’ Ezra Levant has admitted.

Photograph by Christ Bolin
Photograph by Christ Bolin

After Rebel announced a Caribbean cruise in November for their followers last week, a campaign by HOPE not hate led to the cancellation of their booking with Norwegian Cruise Line on Thursday 17th and alongside this the platform has lost staff in droves, faced accusations of financial mismanagement and become embroiled with associations with the white supremecists following the recent events at Charlottesville.

Leading figures leave

Canadian Rebel reporter Faith Goldy appeared at the Charlottesville Unite the Right rally on Saturday 12th to report on the events as they happened. Livestreaming from within a crowd of counter-protestors, Goldy criticised Charlottesville police for stopping the alt-right’s rally and for not allowing them to “make a show of force”, whilst allowing the counter-protestors to do so.

Shortly after this Goldy captured the moment when counter-protestor Heather Heyer, a 32 year old paralegal and civil rights activist from Virginia, was rammed and killed by a car. Suspect James Fields Jr., 20 years old from Ohio, was photographed at the rally by New York Daily News earlier that day alongside members of the white supremacist group Vanguard America.

In an interview with alt-light vlogger Stefan Molyneux following the rally Goldy remarked that the ideas in the “Charlottesville Statement”, published by leading alt-right figure Richard Spencer the day before, were “robust”. In a statement on Rebel’s site clarifying these remarks she stated this “was not an endorsement”.

Later Levant posted a video on Rebel Media announcing Goldy’s departure. Though claiming he had told her not “to go in any capacity” to Charlottesville, he stated that “You don’t throw someone overboard for making a mistake” and that the decision to drop her instead followed the news that Goldy had appeared on a podcast from world’s most popular nazi site, The Daily Stormer.

On the Monday following Charlottesville, another founding member of Rebel Media Brian Lilley announced his departure from the organisation in a Facebook statement following Goldy’s coverage and the platform’s “[…] increasingly harsh tone take on issues like immigration, or Islam”. On the same day Canadian Conservative MP Michael Chong, who had previously appeared on the platform in May 2016, told Press Progress that he will no longer appear on it after their “promotion of anti-Semitism [and] white supremacy”.

On Tuesday, contributors Barbara Kay and John Robson both annonced their departure, with the latter complaining that the platform was adopting an “unconstructive tone” and the former stating that the Rebel needed a return to “ideas and causes that resonate with mainstream conservatives”.

On Wednesday Canadian Conservative MP Peter Kent, who had appeared as a guest on Rebel Media in October 2016, told Press Progress on Twitter that he was ruling out any future appearances after “Rebel went off rails with hateful anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic content” and “now white supremacy”.

Canadian alt-light figure Gavin McInnes, a key contributor to Rebel Media and leader of the fraternal Western chauvinist Proud Boys organisation who hosted Unite the Right speaker Augustus Invictus on his show for Compound Media even after disavowing the event, also plans to announce his departure from Rebel Media at the end of August.

Financial woes

Most troubling of all for Rebel Media was the nature of the departure of UK contributor Caolan Robertson and the producer for UK contributions, George Llewelyn-John. In a video posted yesterday, Robertson stated that he and Llewelyn-John had been fired two weeks ago “suddenly, without cause”, because, he believes, “we knew too much” about the nature of Rebel Media’s handling of its donors’ money and its business motives.

In audio from secretly recorded conversations with Levant, Robertson’s video reveals Levant had attempted to keep him and Llewelyn-John quiet concerning these claims with “hush money” – to the tune of an initial lump sum of “plus £2,000” to both of them and a further “£1,000 a month for four months” to each. In the conversation he also threatened to pursue them with legal action if they tried to sell their story to the papers.

In a video and accompanying article posted yesterday, Levant claimed the two UK staff had been blackmailing him, on the basis that they would otherwise state publicly that Rebel Media was “stealing money from [its] viewers” and “from charities, or from other things [it] crowdfund[s]”. Levant claimed “they had no evidence […] They don’t have any facts” for these allegations. However, when HOPE not hate contacted Llewelyn-John for a response he told us:

‘[Levant] claims he’s been blackmailed for two weeks but where’s the evidence? I’ve barely spoken to Ezra. Its utterly farcical. He has grossly misrepresented the truth and at many points lied outright to try and defame me. It’s a last ditch attempt to try us in the court of public opinion because he knows he doesn’t have a leg to stand on legally’

Questions remain regarding Tommy Robinson who seems to be remaining loyal to Levant. With so many accusations of white supremacism within the last week, Lennon surely has little choice but to join others in distancing themselves from the increasingly toxic platform. The feud between Robertson, Llewelyn-John and Levant seems set to rumble on with the possibility of more revelations, which would round of a disastrous week for Rebel Media.

The question is, is this the end of Rebel Media?


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