As word spread of Hillary Clinton's characterization of half of Donald Trump's supporters in her in a September 9 speech, the right-wing outrage machine went into overdrive. Half of the Repubican standard-bearer's followers, Clinton said, were "a basket of deplorables," while the rest were simply people who felt let down by the government and were desperate for change. With the help of mainstream media, focus turned to the "deplorables" part of her comments. The Trump campaign texted supporters a link to a video ad that mischaracterized Clinton's remarks. In response to the right's fury, Clinton gamely stated that maybe she shouldn’t have said “half."
Truth is, we don't really know what percentage of Trump's current crop of supporters belong in the "deplorables" basket, but what we do know is this: There are a goodly number of public figures and leaders of odious white-supremacist organizations who love them some Trump, and Trump has either embraced them or declined to disavow them. Here we list some of the biggest eggs in the deplorables basket.
1. Stephen K. Bannon: When Trump hired Bannon, then the chief executive of Breitbart News, as his campaign CEO in August, you couldn’t ask for a clearer sign that the GOP standard-bearer was staking a potential victory on igniting the racist resentments of the right-leaning faction of the electorate. During an event in Cleveland the week of the Republican National Convention, Bannon boasted to journalist Sarah Posner that since he took the reins at Breitbart News, the site had become “the platform for the alt-right.”
The alt-right, or alternative right, is a loose affiliation of groups and publications that advance a white nationalist or white supremacist ideology, often characterizing the more established conservative movement as being weak or “cuckholded.” Bannon has written and directed a number of films designed to frighten viewers into thinking their culture is being extinguished, such as Torchbearer, his latest project with Citizens United. That film features horrific scenes of violence, and stars Phil Robertson, the patriarch of “Duck Dynasty,” a reality television show that was temporarily suspended after GQ published an interview in which Robertson made anti-gay comments, and said blacks were all happy and singing “Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare.”
2. Richard Spencer: President of the innocuous-sounding National Policy Institute, Spencer, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), advocates for an Aryan homeland for the supposedly dispossessed white race and calls for “peaceful ethnic cleansing” to halt the “deconstruction” of European culture. He's one of the leading figures of the white nationalist “alt-right” that Trump has courted. At a press conference Saturday, Spencer said of Trump, “Certainly we have been, you could say, riding his coattails, there’s been more interest in us because we’re generally pro-Trump, because we’re inspired by him and things like that.”
He went on:
Even in all his vulgarity and I would never deny him, this is what we want in a leader. This is someone who can make the future. So I think that is the way I would define our love of Trump, is that he seems to be willing to go there, he seems to be willing to confront people. And that is very different from the cuckold.
3. Pamela Geller: A New Yorker with an Ayn Rand fetish, Geller wandered around the right for a while before she found her calling: rallying the forces of hatred in opposition to an Islamic community center that was being developed in lower Manhattan in the early aughts. Together with Spencer, Geller took over the group, Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA), using it as a platform for opposing the Cordoba House development and spewing hatred against Muslims, even falsely suggesting they practiced bestiality, according to the SPLC. She and Spencer falsely described the planned community center as a “victory mosque” created to celebrate the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.
Eating pork and depicting the Prophet Muhammad are both forbidden to practitioners of the Muslim faith. Yet Geller combined the two proscriptions in a cartoon on her website depicting the prophet with the face of a pig, according to SPLC, which lists SIOA as a hate group.
In Cleveland, the week of the 2016 RNC, Geller was a featured speaker at an event sponsored by the group Gays for Trump, which was hosted by Milo Yiannopoulos of Breitbart News.
4. Milo Yiannapoulos: Described by Peter Montgomery of People for the American Way as the alt-right’s gay enfant terrible, Yiannapoulos, the technology editor of Breitbart News, has become semi-famous simply for being an awful person. He was banned from Twitter for his racist dogging of the actor Leslie Jones, and he is known for his anti-Muslim invective.
Yiannapoulos likes to play his gay identity for laughs, often in the service of mocking Muslims. At an "America First" rally in Cleveland co-hosted by radio conspiracy theorist Alex Jones that took place the first day of the Republican National Convention, Montgomery reports, Yiannapoulos said: “Die on your feet or live on your knees. Well, I do live on my knees, but that’s all right. That’s all right. As long as I’m not facing Mecca, I guess I’m all right with you guys."
5. Jared Taylor: Editor of the “racialist” American Renaissance magazine, Taylor is an unabashed Trump supporter. He even has a strategy suggestion for Donald Trump, as he told the Washington Post’s David Weigel:
[Taylor] said that Trump should “concentrate on his natural constituency, which is white people,” suggesting that winning 65 percent of the white vote would overwhelm any Democratic gains with minorities.
Watching Trump’s attacks on non-white immigrants and his courtship of the alt right—of which Taylor is a part—it would be safe to deduce that Trump and/or his advisers have been working that very strategy for a while now.
In an August 29 appearance on "The Diane Rehm Show" on NPR, Taylor discussed his opposition to Title II of the 1964 Civil Rights act, which bars private businesses that serve the public from racially discriminating against their customers. “[I]f I am a private club, a private business, I should have the right to discriminate for good reasons, bad reasons or no reasons at all,” Taylor said. “It's part of the essential freedom of making choices as a human being.”
During the same segment, Taylor explained his rationale for ranking racial groups differently:
"Among the many positions held by the alt-right, we reject the notion that race is some sort of sociological optical illusion. Race is a biological fact, whether we wish to recognize that or not, and we completely reject the idea that all races are exactly equal and equivalent and in effect interchangeable."
6. Alex Jones: The radio host and conspiracy theorist is an anti-government ranter, seeing every terrorist attack as a “false flag” event that was actually conducted by the government. In 2014, Dave Niewert reported that Jones was pushing the narrative that President Obama and the media were in cahoots trying to foment a race war.
When Republicans converged on Cleveland for their convention, Jones headlined an “America First” rally that featured a number of groups with the words “for Trump” in their name: Bikers for Trump, Gun Owners for Trump, Gays for Trump. He complained that his constitutional rights were abridged when he couldn’t get permits for several of his efforts, including the small planes that were flying over the city trailing “Hillary for Prison” banners. It was, of course, all a conspiracy.
Jones also contended that Jared Loughner, the gunman who, in January 2011, shot and critically wounded Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and killed six in Tucson, was actually part of a government plot. Jones contends that the 9/11 attacks were part of “an inside job” by the government. And before Trump got around to it, Jones accused Raphael Cruz, father of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) as being part of the plot to assassinate President John F. Kennedy.
Trump appeared on Jones’ InfoWars radio program in December, praising Jones for his “amazing reputation,” and promising not to let him down.
7. Roger Stone: Even Roger Stone probably thinks he’s deplorable. A famous Republican operative and dirty trickster, Stone is perhaps most famous for having organized what became known as the “Brooks Brothers riot” in 2000, at the Miami-Dade election board, where votes were being recounted in the Bush v. Gore presidential election whose outcome was ultimately decided by the Supreme Court.
It was Stone who, during the 2008 presidential campaign, took to Fox News to advance the false narrative that a tape existed of Michelle Obama referring to white people as “whiteys.”
In 2015, he was an official member of the Trump campaign, but later resigned to run a pro-Trump PAC. However, he remains close to the campaign. At the “America First” rally in Cleveland, he apologized for his tardiness, offering the excuse that he had been delayed because he was meeting with the Trump campaign team.
8. Roger Ailes: If you’ve been reading Gabriel Sherman’s outstanding reporting for New York magazine on the scandal that forced Ailes out of Fox News, you know just how despicable he is. After former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson accused Ailes of sexual harassment, other women came forward, including one who said Ailes had videotaped her when they had sex with the threat of using the tape against her should she cause him any trouble. (Fox has since settled with Carlson for a reported $20 million.) Sherman revealed that Ailes also illicitly acquired the phone records of journalists who had been critical of Fox News.
Ruport Murdoch, chair of Fox’s parent company, News Corporatin, is said to have been unhappy that Ailes was using Fox to support the Trump campaign. Now that Ailes is out of Fox, guess who the campaign’s latest high-profile deplorable adviser is? Roger Ailes.
9. Troy Newman: The president of Operation Rescue jumped aboard the Trump train this week. An anti-choice extremist, Newman even co-authored a book with a would-be domestic terrorist, Cheryl Sullenberger, who in 1988 was sentenced to three years in federal prison for conspiring to blow up an abortion clinic. In that 2003 book, Newman and Sullenberger argue, according to People for the American Way, “that the government has a responsibility to execute abortion providers.”
10. Ann Coulter: Where does one begin with the big, steaming pile of deplorable that is Ann Coulter? Her demonization of LGBT people at the 2006 Values Voter Summit? Her 2007 use of the word “faggot” from the stage of a major conservative conference? Her use of the word “raghead” to describe Muslims? Her creation of the false narrative that undocumented Mexican immigrants are purveyors of violent crimes and thieves of American jobs? How about her assertion that abortion clinic workers murdered by zealots “had a procedure performed on them with a rifle.” Gentle reader, I’ll leave it for you to decide.
Coulter has hitched her fading star to the Trump train, having released in August her latest spittoon of venom encased between the covers of In Trump We Trust: More fun, though, is watching her bomb of a performance at the Comedy Central roast of Rob Lowe, as comics and celebrities on the dais take her down.
11. Mike Pence: The Indiana governor and Trump running-mate is a favorite of the Koch brothers’ ground-organizing group, Americans for Prosperity. In March, Pence signed into law one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the nation, even prohibiting women from aborting a fetus because of a major defect or disability. He’s also something of a right-wing hero for his crusade against gun control. If all that isn’t deplorable enough for you, consider Pence’s response to the endorsement his ticket received from former Knights of the Ku Klux Klan Imperial Wizard David Duke. Twice asked if he would describe Duke as “deplorable,” Pence demurred, saying he isn’t “in the name-calling business.” Because Trump has disavowed Duke’s support (albeit petulantly) and Pence has oh-so-politely said he doesn’t accept Duke’s support, I have not included the odious, disgusting, despicable, DEPLORABLE David Duke on this list. Pence may have a hard time calling him such, though, because it’s hard to refute Duke when he says Trump has "embrace[d] most of the issues that I’ve championed for years.” Duke added: “My slogan remains ‘America first.’” Funny thing: Donald Trump uses that slogan as well.
12. Donald Trump, Jr.: The candidate’s oldest son, as Right Wing Watch termed it, “has got a white supremacist problem.” Most recently, as the campaign tried to make hay of Hillary Clinton’s remarks, Junior posted a meme on Instagram featuring the tagline, “The Deplorables,” featuring his father, his brother Eric, and a number of his father’s surrogates and associates, emulating the movie poster for The Expendables, about a band of merceneries. Also included in the lineup was the Trump version of Pepe the Frog, a cartoon character that has been appropriated by white nationalists as a sort of mascot. (The Trump version of Pepe sports a cartoon rendering of Trump Senior’s trademark hairdo.)
On Thursday, Junior compared the treatment Republicans receive from the media with that European Jews received at the hands of the Nazis. Speaking with host Chris Stigall on Talk Radio 1210 WPHT, the chip off the old block complained that media had "built [Hillary Clinton] up," even overlooking what he said was the Democratic National Committee's attempt to get Bernie Sanders out of the nomination contest. "If Republicans were doing that," Donald Trump Jr. said, "they’d be warming up the gas chamber right now."
As Ari Rabin-Havt notes, Junior has consorted with racists in the past:
In March, [Donald Trump, Jr.] appeared on a radio show with James Edwards, host of the white supremacist radio show Political Cesspool.
Less than two weeks ago, he retweeted a prominent white supremacist. And that wasn’t even the first time he’s done so: Trump Jr. once retweeted a white supremacist’s false claim that a Trump supporter pictured giving the Nazi salute was actually a Bernie Sanders fan in disguise.
13. The Man Himself, Donald J. Trump: You really don’t have time to read in one article all of the things that make Trump deplorable. Suffice it to say, all of the above and more. If you don't believe me, check out this MTV compilation of racist statements, actually made by Donald Trump and interpreted by an actor.