Media Watch

Letter to the NY Times Regarding Profile of White Supremacist

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The following letter was submitted to The New York Times in response to "A Voice of Hate in America's Heartland" (Nov. 25)

Letters to the Editor
The New York Times

To the Editor:

Your lengthy profile of Tony Hovater, the Ohio white supremacist who co-founded the Traditionalist Worker Party, portrays him as a fan of NPR who is planning his nuptials and as a person with “Midwestern manners” that “would please anyone’s mother.” While the public needs to understand the growing threat of extremists, your story lacks any of the requisite context and analysis that actually would provide readers with a more clear understanding of the danger posed by this seemingly normal but actively hostile professional hatemonger (“A Voice of Hate in America’s Heartland,” Nov. 25).

White supremacists like Hovater want the public to believe that that their ideas about racial separation and white superiority are commonplace. They want to convey the idea that they are part of a growing “alt right” movement that has history on its side. This is, of course, a deception and a false facade.

Peel back the layers and you’ll quickly find in Hovater someone who is infected with racism and hate to his very core. Regardless of his radio listening habits, he is the co-founder of one of the most virulently anti-Semitic hate groups in the country. He peddles Holocaust denial as well. Hovater has not stood on the sidelines, but has actively contributed to the rhetoric of hate, leaving no doubt as to the true nature of his views on Internet podcasts and 4Chan discussions. We should make no mistake: such views are dangerous and have fueled real-world acts of hatred and violence, such as those we witnessed in Charlottesville earlier this year.

Your story could have been effective for the right reasons if it had stated these facts up front rather than dwelling on irrelevant details of Hovater’s domestic life. Instead, the article has achieved the dubious distinction of serving as a case study in how the mainstream media occasionally perpetuates white supremacist propaganda. Journalism should never soft-pedal bigotry, but, unfortunately, that is exactly what your sympathetic profile has accomplished.


Jonathan A. Greenblatt
CEO and National Director
Anti-Defamation League