The media’s coverage of the 2017 midterm elections was abysmal, even by conservative standards.
The New York Times declared it “the most partisan election in U.S. history,” while Politico labeled it “a political disaster that threatens to plunge our nation into a prolonged recession.”
And a CNN poll released last month found that only 20 percent of Americans viewed the 2018 midterms favorably, a record low.
But even before the midterm elections, the media was beginning to recognize the power of the far-right, even if they weren’t always thrilled with it.
“The right-wing has made a concerted effort to delegitimize the left in recent years,” journalist Andrew Prokop wrote in Vox in December.
“That has emboldened them to seek out new venues to push their agenda.”
So the conservative media began to embrace Trump’s rhetoric against “globalists” and “globalist elites” — the alt-right — while simultaneously taking cues from the mainstream media, which had recently begun to criticize the president’s “America First” foreign policy.
While this trend has been going on for some time, Trump’s supporters began to seize upon it as a new political weapon against the left and a new front in their efforts to delegitimate the left.
“This is the alt right, Trump-style,” a Trump supporter told a local news outlet.
“We’re not here to attack anyone, we’re here to defend our country.”
The alt-Right, or white nationalists, began to get more mainstream attention after Trump’s election.
In March, alt-righters in Charlottesville, Virginia, took to the streets to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee.
“It’s time to unite, white nationalists and the American people,” Richard Spencer told the New York Daily News.
“You can’t stand by and watch the left destroy your country.
We’re here for you.”
After the protests, the Trump administration issued a proclamation that declared the “alt-right” a “domestic terrorist organization.”
The designation gave the alt to new meaning.
In July, The New Yorker magazine published an essay titled “The Alt-Right Is Not the Alt-Left,” in which writer Alex Pareene describes his time as a “white nationalist” during the early 1990s.
“A lot of these guys are very much white nationalists,” Parene writes.
“There are white nationalists in the movement.
And I think there’s an understanding of that.
I think they’re more like the Klan than they are like the Ku Klux Klan.”
Paree’s essay was widely criticized by journalists and writers on the right, but the alt was soon embraced by many on the left, including Breitbart News.
In September, Parese tweeted a photograph of himself wearing a mask with the caption, “The #AltRight is not the Alt Left.
The Alt Left is.”
Within weeks, the alt began to take center stage.
On December 11, the Daily Beast published an article titled “We Should Be Proud to Be Alt Right.”
In it, the site’s senior editor, Joel Pollak, described the alt as “a movement of ‘realists’ that’s a lot like the Tea Party, but it’s about the country, not just politics.”
Pollak also pointed out that “the alt-left is a more diverse movement than the alt—right.”
The article quickly gained traction on Twitter, garnering over 12,000 retweets and more than 1 million views.
By early February, alt fans were calling the alt “The Resistance,” and the term alt-light quickly began to appear on alt-related hashtags like #altlight, #altrebel, and #altright.
The alt was also featured in an essay by Breitbart News’ Ben Shapiro titled, “Are We Still The Alt Right?”
Shapiro wrote that “Trump’s supporters have no interest in the truth.
They want to be right, so they can make a buck, while their enemies will never have to face facts.”
And yet, as Shapiro noted, Trump supporters had a “plausibility problem” when it came to the alt.
The term alt is often used to describe a person who rejects a social norm, and alt-lite refers to someone who holds an extreme, unsupportive position.
The word “alt” itself is an old-fashioned term used to identify people who subscribe to an ancient ideology, which some historians have interpreted as a form of racism.
But when it comes to the Alt Right, it’s often used as a pejorative, to describe people who have rejected the tenets of the alt, and it’s also been used to criticize those who do embrace it.
As Shapiro wrote, “I don’t think alt-lives matter at all.
We need to be careful that when people use the term, it doesn’t mean they mean it as the most negative of all slurs.”
In October, Breitbart News published an editorial titled, How Trump Supporters Are