Two reporters who were kicked out of the New York Republican Club's annual gala last week—made infamous this year after Marjorie Taylor Greene’s bombastic Jan. 6 speech—described their experience watching a collection of radical far-right figures at work, saying the “the guardrails are completely off.”
On this week’s episode of the Fever Dreams podcast, Hannah Gais and Michael Edison Hayden from the Southern Poverty Law Center recalled a cast of characters to host Will Sommer and guest co-host, The Daily Beast’s Sam Brodey.
At the event, they describe a collection of “ultranationalist European leaders” rubbing shoulders with influencers including Greene, Donald Trump Jr., Pizzagate conspiracist Jack Posobiec, and Josh Hammer, the opinion editor for Newsweek.
The pair registered under their own names and said they made a plan going in “that we would not lie about who we were.” They said they were cautious about talking to people at their table “because that’s the kind of place where we could have gotten busted and thrown out very, very easily because people were chatting.” Hayden said, “We kept our heads down there, and everywhere else just took photographs and things.”
“Every single thing referred to this war that they believe that they’re in,” Hayden recalled of the speeches. “I have to repeatedly say that we are not in their war, they are at war with us. And I think it’s really important to understand that there are people in this country who get together and plot in private and give each other awards who believe that they’re at war with us. So for that sense, I felt it was very important to document it and to inform the public that it’s happened.”
They say they were “very well-behaved” and mingled with a number of guests—including Hammer—for four-and-a-half hours until they were found out during a discussion with Posobiec.
After a “shifty” discussion with the alt-right political activist, “he started to get agitated,” Hayden said. “He started to call me a scumbag and a troll. And Vish Burra, who is the secretary of the New York Young Republicans Club, “started to push me out. I agreed to leave.”
Then, in the podcast’s “Fresh Hell” segment, the hosts dip into American conservative political commentator Ben Shapiro’s growing online movie-streaming empire and his burgeoning efforts to create a right-wing Hollywood in Nashville by acquiring the exclusive film and television rights to the books Atlas Shrugged and Pendragon Cycle, along with a forthcoming children’s cartoon about a family of homeschooled chinchillas.
“That’s the way to do it, is you have to get all the kids addicted to the Chinchilla show and then talk about, ‘Oh, taxation is theft. They’re taking the Chinchillas’ bird seed,’” Sommer said.