The two institutions perhaps most responsible for legitimizing far-right activist Jack Posobiec among conservative influencers and politicians have little to say about new reporting detailing the pro-Trump personality’s connections to far-right extremists.
The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch has published several investigative reports this month detailing connections between Posobiec’s rise in pro-Trump politics and his connections to far-right political movements. In one report, Hatewatch revealed that Posobiec “collaborated for years with white supremacists, neo-fascists and anti-Semites.” Another report extensively detailed remarks made by Posobiec on Twitter that three major Jewish human rights groups identified as conveying anti-Semitic sentiments. In additional reporting, Hatewatch showed that Posobiec “promoted the cause of neo-fascism in Poland” and highlighted an instance in 2018 when Posobiec used his current role at One America News Network to interview an pseudonymous online figure who has “celebrated Hitler, and alluded to terrorism and murder” without mentioning the person’s extremist beliefs.
OANN, a small right-wing cable channel known to perpetuate conspiracy theories and favored by the president, and the Claremont Institute, an increasingly far-right think tank, have played instrumental roles in Posobiec’s efforts to groom his public image as a mainstream pro-Trump commentator and activist. OANN hired Posobiec in early 2018 and employs him as a “political host and investigative reporter,” sending him on international trips to report for the outlet. The Claremont Institute selected Posobiec for a fellowship in 2019, placing Posobiec in a program alongside high-ranking White House, Capitol Hill, and State Department employees.
Right Wing Watch emailed inquires to the Claremont Institute, OANN founder Robert Herring, and OANN president Charles Herring seeking comment on what Hatewatch uncovered in its reporting. Neither OANN’s founder nor president responded to RWW’s request for comment, and Claremont Institute president Ryan Williams provided a statement to RWW only to disparage SPLC.
“We at Claremont don’t think much of known hate-groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center, which had to pay out millions to fend off a defamation lawsuit, had senior leadership resign for sexual harassment allegations, and is widely regarded as one of the most cynical con-jobs in the philanthropic world,” Williams said.
Williams did not dispute the accuracy of Hatewatch’s reporting and did not respond when RWW asked in a follow-up if he had any thoughts to share that pertained to the facts SPLC reported.
“Jack Posobiec and the smattering of supporters willing to defend him have not been able to point to anything in the reporting that is inaccurate,” Hatewatch senior investigative reporter Michael E. Hayden told RWW. “And the reporting clearly demonstrates that Posobiec collaborated with dangerous neo-Nazis and promoted an agenda of hate.”
Both OANN and the Claremont Institute took Posobiec into their organizations despite his role in promoting “Pizzagate,” a far-right conspiracy theory that inspired North Carolina man Edgar Welch to enter a pizza restaurant in Washington, D.C., in 2016 carrying an assault-style rifle, a pistol, and a folding knife, and fire a weapon two or three times. Convinced by false rumors he had found online, several of which were echoed by Posobiec, Welch believed he was there to rescue children who allegedly were being sex trafficked beneath the restaurant. In 2019, NBC News reported that California man Ryan Jaselskis was charged with starting a fire in the same restaurant and that about an hour before the fire, a video containing “Pizzagate-style claims” was uploaded to Jaselskis’ parents’ YouTube account.
Posobiec has incessantly lied about his role in spreading the conspiracy theory, which included livestreaming himself from inside the restaurant while claiming to viewers that children were being ushered in and out of a “secret back room.”
RWW attempted to reach Posobiec for comment via email but did not receive a response prior to publication.