Katie McHugh, an admitted former white nationalist and writer at the Daily Caller and Breitbart News, is the subject of an extraordinary profile by BuzzFeed News reporter Rosie Gray in which she talks about the alt-right’s dark secrets.
McHugh tells Gray that she started out her career as a libertarian who was led down a dark path toward outright racism. She says that while she harbored racist views before working at Breitbart, she thinks that working at that right-wing publication encouraged her to be even more extreme.
“The thing is, I think Breitbart — and let me preface this by saying I take responsibility for all my actions. Everything I said that was terrible was my fault. However, I think that people’s flaws were encouraged,” she said. “I think Milo’s fame should not have been encouraged — it was very bad for him. And my vindictiveness and my capacity for cruelty were encouraged.”
But McHugh’s racism got so bad at one point that even Breitbart Texas editor Brandon Darby became concerned that she was openly supporting the writings of neo-Nazis.
However, former Breitbart boss Steve Bannon told Darby to back off of his criticism and he never disciplined McHugh for promoting neo-Nazi Twitter accounts.
“Steve said ‘stop it’ just out of irritation,” she said. “But it never, never affected my rise in the company.”
In fact, Bannon eventually promoted her to be his producer on his Sirius XM radio show.
Much of the profile documents how the white nationalist movement has worked to insert itself into supposedly “mainstream” conservative institutions — including former Trump Department of Homeland Security official Ian Smith, who was fired after his ties to white nationalism were exposed.
In the end, McHugh hopes that her story inspires more people who have been taken in by the movement to flee.
“There is forgiveness, there is redemption,” she tells Gray. “You have to own up to what you did and then forcefully reject this and explain to people, and tell your story, and say, ‘Get out while you can.’”