On Thursday, writing for Rolling Stone, Tim Dickinson profiled how the far-right paramilitary group the Oath Keepers, best known for recruiting current and former police and law enforcement, are also recruiting another kind of person: Media professionals.
"When joining a right-wing militia, most members brag about their military credentials, tactical training, or prowess with firearms. But a select group of members in the hacked Oath Keeper rolls touted a very different skillset — pledging to be information warriors for the extremist group," said the report. "These Oath Keepers signed up pitching past affiliations with the Washington Post, USA Today, Tampa Tribune as well as local television news and newspaper outlets from New Jersey to Kansas to Arizona. Still others offered experience in film and radio production or pledged to serve the Oath Keepers on the public affairs front, helping to market the militia to the masses."
Among those recruited by the group, noted Dickinson, were a New York man who "spent 10 years as a TV news reporter," a Virginia man who boasted of his “Ph.D. and 28 years’ experience in opinion and marketing research and strategy,” and a man who bragged, "I have a masters degree in radio, television, and film production and worked for… years in the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service producing television programs.”
These media experts, who were exposed in a recent hack of the Oath Keepers' membership database, can do PR work to “create an image that is cool, competent, and appealing to potential members — and then blast it out to a far larger audience than if they were trying to recruit in person," according to Alex Friedfield of the Anti-Defamation League's Center on Extremism.
The Oath Keepers, who have been involved in a number of armed anti-government standoffs in recent years including the Bundy Ranch incident, more recently participated in the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol. Many of its members are now facing federal charges and turning on each other to try to secure plea deals.
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