Shiva Ayyadurai, who is widely known as V.A. Shiva, spoke at the Alt-Right “free speech rally” in Boston on Saturday in his latest appeal to the fringe, pro-Trump audiences who he thinks will help carry him to victory against Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren in next year’s election.
“Labeling you, or you, or you, Nazis and white supremacists is slander and libel,” Ayyadurai assured the small crowd assembled on Boston Common, “and we have the right in this country to sue [journalists]. And we will.”
Ayyadurai, a scientist who controversially claims to have invented email when he was 14 years old, filed as a Republican candidate in late February aiming to oust Warren in 2018. Ayyadurai quickly began making numerous appearances in fringe media outlets in order to boost his visibility on the pro-Trump media circuit and earn the endorsements of the fringe media figures who shilled for Trump in 2016.
His first major endorsement came from Red-Sox-pitcher-turned-fringe-media-star Curt Schilling, who went full-fringe after he was fired from ESPN for sharing hateful rhetoric about transgender people and had reportedly contemplated running against Warren himself before endorsing Ayyadurai.
Since then, Ayyadurai has made numerous appearances on the conspiracy outlet Infowars; he had also appeared on the outlet before declaring his candidacy. On Infowars, Ayyadurai has received glowing praise from the outlet’s prominent personalities. In one interview, host Alex Jones called Ayyadurai “the example of what we want in Congress, in the presidency, in the statehouses.”
His campaign has also granted one-on-one interviews with fringe right-wing websites and media figures such as Lucian Wintrich, White House correspondent for The Gateway Pundit. Wintrich interviewed Ayyadurai in an exclusive interview just one month after promoting an event featuring known white supremacist Matt Forney.
The Rebel Media’s Gavin McInnes, a media personality who leads an Alt-Right fight club called the “Proud Boys” and has used his platform to spread misogynistic rhetoric, also got an interview with Ayyadurai. Right-wing radio host and Trump super-fan Wayne Allyn Root scored an exclusive interview, by the end of which he had offered to speak on behalf of Ayyadurai at Massachusetts events. Root told Ayyadurai that he wanted to host him on his program “again and again.” In addition, Ayyadurai granted an exclusive interview to the pro-Trump website Breitbart, which recently welcomed back former White House adviser Steve Bannon as its chairman. Right-wing blogger Cassandra Fairbanks and conspiracy peddling internet troll Jack Posobiec have also given Ayyadurai their endorsements.
Ayyadurai even appeared on the radio with Trump fanboy Howie Carr, who once opened a Trump campaign rally by mocking a Native American tribal chant to insult Warren. (In a dig at Warren, who has been endlessly attacked by the Right for listing herself as Native American in a law school directory in the 1990s, the Indian-born Ayyadurai frequently refers to himself the “real Indian” in the race.) But Ayyadurai found himself in a shouting match with Carr after the Boston radio host brought up Ayyadurai’s prior arrest and accusations of domestic violence.
By pandering to pro-Trump media outlets and personalities, it appears Ayyadurai is aiming to mirror the media tactics that Trump used early in his campaign. In his road to the White House, Trump also catered to fringe media figures who would later defend him as president and troll traditional press outlets who are critical of his administration. It’s still early to know whether Ayyadurai’s strategy will pay off. But his appearance at this weekend’s rally shows that he’s going all in to cater to the fringe, inspired by Trump.