Social Media

Not On TV, Kari Lake Is Active on Site for Right-Wingers, Nazis

Kari Lake
Kari Lake KSAZ-TV
FOX 10 anchor Kari Lake went viral in 2019 for bashing Phoenix New Times to a colleague while defending her affiliation with the far-right Twitter clone Parler. Now, she's ventured even deeper into the shady ecosystem of far-right social media, joining a social media network known as Gab that's favored by neo-Nazis and QAnon cultists.

Lake has been off the air since the beginning of the year, but she's apparently been keeping herself busy at least partially with the site. Since she joined Gab on January 9, she's shared three links from questionable news sites and drawn more than 700 followers.

"Join me on Gab," she tweeted after midnight Wednesday evening, along with a screenshot of her profile on the service.

Parler recently went offline after being dropped by its hosting provider for not reigning in threats of violence in the wake of the U.S. Capitol attack. The far-right figures who had moved there in protest of Twitter's decision to finally boot former President Donald Trump, or after being banned themselves, have in turn dispersed to a number of other sites. Some have landed on Gab.

In addition to following these users to Gab, Lake has also verified her identity on the site and had her account upgraded to "Gab PRO." Gab advertises "PRO" membership, which starts at $100 for a year membership, as a way to verify your account and get the Gab equivalent of Twitter's blue checkmark.

Reached on Twitter this morning, Lake declined to do a phone interview because she said she sometimes misses words when jotting down notes in a hurry and that written answers would allow New Times to be more precise. Shortly after, she said she would provide answers after she got back from a doctor's appointment.

Instead, she responded several hours later to say she couldn't comment due to station privacy and released a statement about her absence on Twitter.

In the statement, Lake said she had been out on medical leave since the beginning of the year and that she hadn't said anything out of a desire for privacy. She said she was addressing it now after reporters reached out with questions "only intended to damage my reputation or personally hurt me" — presumably a reference to New Times' questions about her affiliation with Gab and promotion of conspiracy theories.

Lake directed further inquires to FOX's PR department in New York, saying they could be contacted through the local station. FOX 10 newsroom management did not respond to multiple inquires about Lake Thursday morning.

click to enlarge Lake posted this screenshot of her Gab profile on her Twitter and Facebook pages. - TWITTER
Lake posted this screenshot of her Gab profile on her Twitter and Facebook pages.
For the unfamiliar, Gab was started as a free-speech-absolutist haven for conservatives, but quickly gained a reputation as the social media of choice for white supremacists due to its tolerance of hate speech and calls for genocide. This reputation was only furthered by a string of anti-Semitic posts from the company's official account on Twitter.

Founder and CEO Andrew Torba practically condoned racism when he described the site's objective in a Gab post.

"Free speech means you can offend, criticize, and make memes about any race, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation," he wrote. "Sick and tired of the double standards for 'acceptable speech' and 'protected classes' on both the left and the right."

The website was dropped by its hosting provider in 2018 after a user with a long history of neo-Nazi posts shared his final message on it before killing 11 people at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.

An extremist researcher warned at the time that neo-Nazis were using the site for recruitment and to spread their messaging.

"As someone who studies online extremism for a living, it’s hard to overstate how dangerous this flow of vile content is," wrote SITE Intelligence Group director Rita Katz in a Politico column. "Anyone with an anti-Semitic outlook has their own, safe bubble wherein their hate can fester. Even Gab users who don’t ascribe to anti-Semitic views are naturally more likely to embrace those ideas when surrounded by such material."

The website has since found a home with hosting provider Epik, which also hosts neo-Nazi messageboard Daily Stormer and Q-Anon home 8Chan.

In recent months, Gab has gained a new userbase in QAnon followers. Not only does the platform tolerate conspiracy theories, it also prompts new users with a list of groups to join that includes a QAnon group and a group related to election conspiracy theories.

Lake's first post on the site came on January 9, the day Parler went offline after being dropped by its web hosting provider Amazon.

"Hope Gab is more civil than Twitter," she wrote.

Lake was greeted by a number of fans of hers on the site, a few with QAnon hashtags in their bios.

Also on the service is Arizona GOP chair Kelli Ward and state Senator Kelly Townsend, both supporters of President Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the presidential election based on conspiracy theories.

Even before joining Gab, Lake has danced around far-right conspiracy theories. Ten days after the presidential election in November, she created a Twitter thread about what she called a "sobering interview" by election-conspiracy-theory-pusher Sidney Powell. In the thread, Lake quoted Powell's wild and unsupported claims that the election had been stolen in a scheme connected to Venezuela, Cuba, and China.

Lake has also retweeted several articles from Epoch Times, a Trump-supporting news outlet that has also pushed conspiracy theories.

Most interestingly, Lake recently retweeted reports about power outages in the Vatican and Pakistan. While Lake did not provide any commentary on the shares, conspiracy theorists online have claimed that the outages were signs that the Pope was being arrested for child sex trafficking.

It may be unsurprising that Lake is susceptible to conspiracy theories. In 2018, she claimed that an Arizona campaign to increase education funding was really a secret ploy to legalize marijuana. Her evidence? A parody T-shirt.
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Erasmus Baxter is a staff writer for Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Erasmus Baxter