The Rebel is in full meltdown mode.
August 31, 2017 10:57 PM   Subscribe

Inside Rebel Media by Richard Warnica [The National Post] “Levant, who is 45 years old, founded The Rebel Media from the ashes of Sun News Network in 2015. In the two-plus years since, he has built it from a tiny niche website operating out of his home into a global brand with correspondents on three continents and a footprint in major controversies around the world. The site is a natural climax for Levant’s checkered career. It presents a seamless mix of far-right activism and commentary, the same two-feet-in-two-ponds balance Levant has managed himself for decades. But The Rebel is also something decidedly new. It represents an evolutionary leap for Levant. Free from the limits of broadcasters, of publishers and parties, his already unfettered id is now truly boundless. Levant can say whatever he wants, to whomever he wants, in whatever way he decides. He has the freedom to deride climate science, to embrace Donald Trump, to attack George Soros. He can indulge any conspiracy. Attack any foe.”

• Ezra’s Very Bad Week by Russell Gragg [Canadaland] [Podcast] [.mp3]
It’s been, to put it mildly, a shit week for Rebel Media’s self-styled ‘Rebel Commander’ Ezra Levant:
– Following the tragedy in Charlottesville last weekend, Rebel Media co-founder Brian Lilley, and periodic columnists Barbara Kay and John Robson all severed their ties to the organization;
– By Thursday it was learned that Rebel mainstay and Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes was moving on. According to Levant, he’d been poached by an organization with deeper pockets;
– The same day, Levant announced he’d fired popular Rebel personality Faith Goldy after her appearance on a neo-nazi podcast;
– A bombshell video [YouTube] from two disgruntled former Rebel staffers was released alleging Levant was paying ‘hush money’ to keep quiet about the company’s business practices;
– A disavowal came out from Conservative leader Andrew Scheer, who says he will refuse all media requests from the organization until its ‘editorial direction changes’ (whatever that means);
Press Progress revealed that Levant was receiving funding from an anti-Muslim think tank;
– And even the much-hyped Rebel Cruise was cancelled.
• A Growing List Of People Who Have Cut Ties With The Rebel by Jonathan Goldsbie [Canadaland]
◦ Faith Goldy - Former star contributor, budding white nationalist
◦ Lauren Southern - Former star contributor, budding white nationalist
◦ Chris Alexander - Former Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and Conservative MP for Ajax–Pickering, former leadership candidate
◦ Michael Chong - Conservative MP for Wellington-Halton Hills, former leadership candidate
◦ Brian Lilley - Rebel co-founder, former Sun News guy
◦ Barbara Kay - Longtime National Post columnist, Rebel contributor since February 2017
◦ John Robson - National Post columnist, Rebel Media “Resident Historian”
◦ Peter Keng - Conservative MP for Thornhill, former Minister of the Environment
• Follow the money by Justin Ling [Vice News]
“In the span of just a week, the far-right Rebel Media has gone from a vanguard of the alt-right media to a public pariah, facing public condemnation and an internal mutiny. The website and online commentary show has found one of its star hosts rubbing elbows with neo-Nazis, had its founder surreptitiously recorded promising “hush money,” and has faced condemnation from across the political spectrum in Canada. But while the site has pit itself squarely in the middle of a culture war, a half dozen former staff, associates, and contributors with The Rebel paint a picture of an organization more concerned with building its email list and attracting donors than with accuracy. Most previous employees of The Rebel spoke to VICE News on the condition of anonymity, given that Levant requires Rebel employees to sign strict non-disclosure agreements and has a history of being litigious. Ex-staffers say the operation is fixated on building its email list and subscriber base through increasingly combative and invective campaigns. But also that The Rebel lives on “mega-donors” who underwrite the operation.”
• Did Ezra Levant just kill the Conservative Party? by Enzo DiMatteo [Now Toronto]
“The far right may inspire fear, but the violence on the streets in Charlottesville – and fallout since – resembles more the kicking and screaming of an America on the way out than some new vanguard of a right wing movement. Before his departure, Bannon told American Prospect in an interview (he has since claimed was off the record) what he really thinks of the far right in the U.S.: "a collection of clowns.” Indeed. The right is in retreat – has been, in fact, in the U.S. (and Europe; see Germany, France, Denmark) since Trump was elected. But you wouldn't necessarily know that if you're following the Trump hit parade. Up here in the Great White North, the fallout from the “Unite The Right” chaos has turned into something quite unexpected: a wake-up call for the conservative movement and the Conservative Party of Canada that represents it. But don't expect a reckoning to come of it. It's too late for that. At this point, only a wholesale purge of the Harper-era old guard – like the one that's slowly happening in the Ontario wing of the party under Patrick Brown – will save the Conservative Party from itself. In Ontario, the Libs are already moving to turn the reverberations from Charlottesville into an election issue.”
• Lessons from the Great Right North: Canada's Breitbart is imploding. What can it teach us about America? by Jeet Heer [New Republic]
“If Faith Goldy had been any other journalist, she would have had the scoop of a lifetime on August 12 in Charlottesville, Virginia. A correspondent for Canadian website The Rebel, she was broadcasting live from a white-supremacist rally when she captured the startling scene of a car, later discovered to have been driven by a white nationalist, mowing down protesters. But the value of Goldy’s reporting was overshadowed by the fact that she had come to Charlottesville with a hard-driving agenda of her own. Weaving through the crowd with her phone-camera rolling and a bright pink gas mask dangling from her neck, she had spent the entire day fawning over neo-Nazis. [...] Goldy’s antics—all the more shocking in light of the non-apology [YouTube] she issued a few days later—have created a crisis at her employer, The Rebel. Founded just two years ago by Ezra Levant, an enterprising pundit with longstanding ties to mainstream Canadian conservatism, The Rebel is often described as Canada’s Breitbart. In some ways, the analogy is apt: Like Breitbart, The Rebel has emerged as a powerful voice for xenophobia and for ethnic nationalism framed as a populist revolt against globalist elites. Both Breitbart and The Rebel are clearing houses for conspiracy theories about creeping Sharia. And both have some measure of political clout. Where Breitbart had Steve Bannon calling shots at the White House, The Rebel had Hamish Marshall, campaign manager for Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer, sitting on its board.”
• Andrew Scheer’s campaign manager on ending his Rebel ties by John Geddes [Maclean's Magazine]
“And Scheer has lined up with the critics. “I am disgusted by the vile comments made by hate groups this past weekend,” he declared in a written statement on the controversy. “I believe there is fine line between reporting the facts and giving those groups a platform. I have a positive vision for Canada and I want to share that vision with Canadians and talk about issues that unite us all. Until the editorial directions of the Rebel Media changes, I will not grant interviews to the outlet.” That raises obvious questions about his friend and campaign supremo’s standing as a Rebel board member. In a telephone interview with Maclean’s this morning, Marshall would not comment on Rebel’s coverage of the Charlottesville story, or any other aspect of its reporting and commentary, but did confirm that he is “in the process” of cutting his ties to the company. On when he expects to cease being a Rebel board member, he said, “There are just some business issues that need to be resolved.” Marshall said he made the decision to leave Rebel months before the Charlottesville controversy.”
• Hey, America, Now You Have Our Worst People. You’re Welcome. by Scaachi Koul [Buzzfeed]
“If you’ve been paying attention to all of the increasingly bad news in the world lately, you’ve probably heard of the Proud Boys, a group of right-wing millennial hipsters who like to punch the shit out of each other. Or that crowdfunded ship intended to intercept incoming refugees. Or how about that lady who interrupted a production of Julius Caesar in New York because of Kathy Griffin, or something? What they all have in common is a 45-year-old conservative Canadian commentator named Ezra Levant, who in February 2015 launched a website called The Rebel, based out of Toronto. The site is like Canada’s very own Breitbart, dedicated largely to political and social commentary that covers everything from misinformation about Muslim communities to the likelihood of “white genocide” happening in Canada to the belief that being trans is a mental disorder that naturally precludes you from serving in the military. Its many columnists and personalities are now one of our most effective exports. (Thanks, NAFTA!) In The Rebel’s short two-year history, it has become the leading — if only — voice of Canada’s alt-right. The New York Times has called The Rebel “Breitbart North,” Breitbart being a far-right news and commentary site that NBC has called “a hub for pro-Trump, anti-immigration and especially anti-Muslim agit-prop.””
• Ezra Levant's Failed Bid to Change Canada by Jonathan Kay [The Walrus]
“ Instead, his career became one long series of rants, lawsuits, and festering grievances. Today, as Levant’s radical right-wing website strains at the bolts amid mass defections and allegations of financial impropriety, it’s easy to forget that, for a brief moment at the start of the decade, he was given a taste of mainstream respectability. He rejected it: a decision that serves as the baseline for everything that followed. Ezra always has been a true believer—not only in the substance of the fringe material he broadcasts, but in his own power to bring Canadians over to his radical views. The fierce backlash he’s suffered following the tragedy in Charlottesville reflects the limits of that belief. I worked with levant in the early days of the National Post, where he was a subject of fascination and grief in equal parts. Even in this early incarnation, Levant would say and publish the most outrageous stuff. Yes, there’d be the correction or retraction in the next day’s edition. But it never seemed to stick. Instead, he kept rolling from one high-profile gig to another.”
• My Week at Sea with Canada's Alt-Right: An undercover leftie cruises the Caribbean with Ezra Levant and his army of Trump supporters, conspiracy theorists, and Islamophobes by Peter Norman [The Walrus]
“Levant’s many bizarre statements and radical postures may suggest he is a fringe figure in Canada’s marketplace of ideas. Yet he has an almost supernatural ability to bounce back from controversy in surprising ways. [...] With its angry, anti-liberal, race-obsessed, occasionally apocalyptic tone, the Rebel resembles Breitbart, the conservative American website once run by Stephen Bannon, who is now Donald Trump’s chief strategist (a typical headline: “Idaho Dems Exec Director: dnc Should Train People ‘How to Shut Their Mouths If They’re White’”). That’s no coincidence: Levant said during the cruise that Breitbart was a major inspiration for the Rebel. Which is exactly why I spent a week of my life rubbing elbows with Levant’s most dedicated followers. Bannon’s acolytes, too, once were mocked and ridiculed as marginal loons—until they got their man into the White House. Could Levant manage the same trick here in Canada?”
posted by Fizz (35 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
God I didn't know Barbara Kay had abandoned legitimacy completely.
posted by Space Coyote at 10:59 PM on August 31, 2017

posted by charismatic megafauna at 11:29 PM on August 31, 2017 [1 favorite]

By Thursday it was learned that Rebel mainstay and Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes was moving on. According to Levant, he’d been poached..
While I can't approve of such things.. an organization with deeper pockets;
Oh drat.
posted by Nerd of the North at 11:37 PM on August 31, 2017 [11 favorites]

I still think they should have let them go on their dumb cruise & then we could all agree to Komagata Maru/MS St. Louis them upon return. I'm sure they would appreciate the non-PC edgy humour in that.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:53 PM on August 31, 2017 [6 favorites]

Geez Fizz, I've been loving your posts recently, but I gotta say this sounds like the worst video game ever...

Oh, this is real life? Ugh. I prefer believing it was a Wolfenstein II expansion mod.
posted by gusottertrout at 11:58 PM on August 31, 2017 [6 favorites]

I suppose he can always leave it off his resume.
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 12:26 AM on September 1, 2017

All these people showing themselves to be better than Ezra must be really pounding his ego right now. And all I can do is recline and laugh.
posted by Space Coyote at 12:52 AM on September 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

Proud Boys describe themselves as "a fraternal organisation of Western Chauvinists who will no longer apologise for creating the modern world". Founded by Vice co-founder Gavin McInnes...

Well shit, one more thing that seemed sort of cool that will now need to be shunned. Could all of you people please stop sucking so badly?
posted by Meatbomb at 3:23 AM on September 1, 2017

Uh, let's be clear here - McInnes has *always* been a piece of shit and this has been very public for a while. He left Vice mag long before they really became the giant media company they are now and he went on to write for Takimag and appear as a regular on Fox News. He has zero to do with Vice.
posted by windbox at 4:05 AM on September 1, 2017 [11 favorites]

Yeah, Vice may not be 100% good, but they've been doing some really good reporting recently. They're the ones that put together the documentary from Charlottesville that's been so instrumental in getting Nazis shunned and fired.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:56 AM on September 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

better than Ezra

Going to make twenty dollars
before the weekends over

posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 5:28 AM on September 1, 2017 [4 favorites]

I, for one, am thrilled at watching this whole wonderful mess unfold and I will eat as much as popcorn as I like while it happens.

Ezra Levant is a detestable human being.
posted by Kitteh at 5:49 AM on September 1, 2017 [6 favorites]

We're running ads for an academic program online right now and while our "brand safe" specifications were very carefully set, Google somehow managed to start jamming them onto Rebel sites. Thankfully, an alert org (Sleeping Giant) that monitors and notifies companies that their ads are on Rebel let us know ASAP, and we were able to intervene and course-correct before we gave 'em any actual money.

Just a heads-up to anyone in marketing in Canada, though... Google apparently considers Rebel a "brand-safe" and reputable outlet in its ad placements, so you'll want specific exclusion criteria and a blacklist to be sure you're not associating your brand with its product.

Our supplier is also having very sharp words with Google about the above, so we'll see if it makes a difference.
posted by Shepherd at 6:06 AM on September 1, 2017 [25 favorites]

Well, this brightens my morning a bit.
posted by rodlymight at 6:12 AM on September 1, 2017

Couldn't happen to a nicer person.

I mean, it really, really couldn't.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:34 AM on September 1, 2017 [7 favorites]

Ezra has a habit of setting up fundraising URLs for pretty much anything. He's almost setting himself up to his viewers as the anti-PBS/NPR with their regular donation drives. He even set up a fundraising site for Laura Loomer's crashing of the Trump-costumed production of Julius Caesar hours before the protest even happened.

It can't be a surprise to Levant to find out many of his employees are Nazis and anti-semites. He even supported McInnes' various racist comments and jokes during The Rebel's trip to Israel. Glad to see his empire falling, but they've been at it for a while and nothing they did in the last few weeks to create this backlash is new. The PC politicians who are cutting ties with The Rebel had no problem attending rallies where Rebel readers chanted "Lock Her Up" about a democratically elected Alberta premiere. Sheer didn't cut ties with Levant after The Rebel spent weeks repeating debunked, racist conspiracy theories about the Quebec mosque shooting. The Rebel has been a vile place from day one, don't give anyone any credit for only calling them out now.
posted by thecjm at 6:43 AM on September 1, 2017 [9 favorites]

I think my favourite Levant comment had to be when he said the Rebel no longer considers themselves alt-right because the meaning of alt-right has changed. I was like, Dude, the term was coined by Richard Spencer, a fucking NAZI.
posted by Kitteh at 6:47 AM on September 1, 2017 [6 favorites]

I get the feeling that that was fine, that what Levant is worried about is brand dilution by groups other than the neonazis.
posted by bonehead at 7:07 AM on September 1, 2017

*makes face*

Fizz deserves a medal for crawling through this pipe full of shit-smelling foulness - like some real-life version of Andy Dufresne in the Shawshank Redemption - to bring us this roundup.

The depressing thing about the Canadaland piece of it is that they end up concluding that Levant is still valuable to the CPC in that he's got a large mailing list/contact database of angry racists/homophobes/transphobes that they'll need to tap to rile the base.

God I didn't know Barbara Kay had abandoned legitimacy completely.

If you're in the mood to completely debase yourself, you'll REALLY like Kay vs. Kay in the Canadian Jewish News a new editorial feature in which Barbara Kay et fils take turns being total assholes on a given topic du jour.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:18 AM on September 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

Levant is fucked up on so many levels. He's basically legal grifter who pisses people off and then sues them for tell him to fuck off. The Rebel is just more grift. But he gives regular grifters a good name because at least they don't try to work up xenophobia.
posted by GuyZero at 7:56 AM on September 1, 2017

Levant may be down temporarily, but reading that article a number of his writers and commentators just went back to their day jobs at the National Post to continue saying the same things in a slightly politer way.

I hadn't seen the term counter-jihad used in this way to describe Islamophobia. Is that common and something I've missed or is it new?
posted by lesbiassparrow at 8:26 AM on September 1, 2017

Before she worked with The Rebel, Barbara Kay was getting really into Men's Rights advocacy, and writing glowing profiles of MRAs. She abandoned legitimacy and decency long ago.
posted by thecjm at 8:43 AM on September 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

One reason I posted this collection of articles about Rebel Media/Ezra Levant is to counter the narrative that Canada is this glowing beacon of light and goodness. Justin Trudeau and Canada as a whole have been objectified in many ways, transformed into this symbol of positivity and democratic liberal idealism.

It's easy to focus on that smiling Justin Trudeau wearing Ramadan-themed socks on Good Morning America and his welcoming of refugees into the country. You can look at all of his forward thinking ideas on feminism and LGBTQ rights, but that is a very dangerous thing to do.

You risk overlooking the more ugly parts of our country when you only focus on this part of Canada. There are many citizens of this country that have embraced fear-mongering, bigotry, white-nationalism and other hate filled ideals. This is a glimpse into that sub-set of our society.
posted by Fizz at 9:13 AM on September 1, 2017 [16 favorites]

I think it was on Canadaland where Jesse said that Canadians are quick to embrace any glowing narrative that paints them as being better than the US, but reeeeeal slow to acknowledge the very real white nationalist and racist threats in our own yard. He's right, unfortunately.

A group of teachers here in Kingston want to re-name an elementary school (Sir John A MacDonald) to something less Shitty White Guy in History. The responses about PC Culture and "we don't have a problem with that like the US does" and other horrible things are depressing to read.
posted by Kitteh at 9:36 AM on September 1, 2017 [7 favorites]

> Glad to see his empire falling

As others here have pointed out, I have a feeling Levant will eventually land on his feet because he and his marks are useful to a certain subset of institutional racists in Canada. We'll never be completely rid of him, because like a lot of conservative media types he's an expert at playing the persecuted martyr, and he'll probably be able to spin his current travails as yet another example of the LAMESTREAM MEDIA and SJW's censoring "The Truth," yadda yadda yadda.

The main mistake Ezra and The Rebel seem to have made here was forgetting (perhaps emboldened by Trump's "victory") that most racist Canadians still prefer their racism to be polite and covered up - for the time being at least - so they can plausibly deny it and maintain their sense of moral superiority over Americans (marching in the streets with torches and screaming Nazi chants? So boorish! Better to let our institutions do the work quietly). Whether or not this preference for "polite" racism lasts much longer up here remains to be seen (the next federal election will probably be a good test), because there are *plenty* of racist white people up here who are fed up with having to bite their tongues. I know this first-hand because I'm related to some of them and had a long argument last weekend about their belief that racism against First Nations people is overblown and largely an invention of the media, and that they should just move on, stop drinking and get a job, etc.. All these people need is a Canadian Trump to focus their anger and (this might be the tricky part) say the quiet parts loud in juuuust the right way.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:59 AM on September 1, 2017 [3 favorites]

Ezra’s Very Bad Week

Ezra and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week
posted by Kabanos at 10:00 AM on September 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

Four things really popped out of me in the whole mess:

1) that 4 of The Rebel UK correspondents were living together in the same house, at least 2 of who were in a relationship. doesn't that strike anyone as weird?

2) that anonymous Rebel Media contributor Victor Laszlo was revealed to be 'Vlad Tepes' of an infamous anti-Islam blog, who was also revealed to be (now retired) Ottawa Canada flamenco guitarist James Cohen. He had a CKCU (Carleton University) radio show called Right Or Wrong, but it got canned the same year he started his Vlad Tepes site. (One of the first posts on his site directly thanks him for starting it, "a very welcome site for any author interested in writing with unabashed honesty and who wishes to forego the stagnant rules of fancy political correctness")
(I don't have the link to the article this was all laid out in, but do remember the hilarious line that when the reporter called James, he was happy to talk but the second the name Laszlo was mentioned, he declined all comment and hung up. Smooth, dude.)

3) that the best of these grifters always have to transcend Canadian politics in order to harvest donations from around the world. See also The Rebel Media contributor Jordan Peterson. They all garner minimal support from within Canada, but lots of support from Europe, USA and abroad. Dunking on Trudeau is a cottage industry, hating on trans people and Muslims gets the global money.

4) Ezra Levant is nearly incapable of being photographed with his mouth closed. Jordan Peterson is nearly incapable of passing a week without arranging a new photoshoot.
posted by Theta States at 10:08 AM on September 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

Anyone remember that Barbara Kay article about domestic violence not being a real thing because women just like being beaten? If Rebel Media is too far for HER.
posted by jeather at 10:12 AM on September 1, 2017 [4 favorites]


Ezra Levant, left, Jason Kenney and Rahim Jaffer at a barbeque in Ottawa in 1998.

posted by mandolin conspiracy at 11:56 AM on September 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

Theta States - That house the 4 of them shared also doubled as The Rebel's UK office and mailing address. Weird, maybe not for journalists who get paid relatively little but are working in one of the most expensive cities in the world. When i heard that twist I pictured it as the evil version of Erlich's house.

And Mandolin don't even get me started on Jason Kenney. Shudder indeed. If Levant of all people working with anti-Semites is disturbing, let's not talk about Kenney and his support of outing any child joining a gay-straight alliance at school. Because that would be prying and rude and un-Canadian.
posted by thecjm at 12:24 PM on September 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

All these people need is a Canadian Trump to focus their anger

Like the Robertson screw and the Avro Arrow, we plucky Canadians were innovating in this field years before the Americans caught on.
posted by Freelance Demiurge at 12:29 PM on September 1, 2017 [7 favorites]

It's true; Rob Ford now seems like the off-Broadway practice run for Trump. The problem with Ford was that he was even dumber than Trump is (and had multiple substance abuse problems to boot). I do not use those words lightly.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:34 PM on September 1, 2017 [5 favorites]

Rob Ford at least offered good constituent services to (some of the people in) Ward 2. And he never played chicken with nuclear war.
posted by jb at 8:23 AM on September 2, 2017

And he never played chicken with nuclear war.

Can't start WWIII if you're too high on drugs to remember where you misplaced the codes to start WWIII.
posted by Fizz at 2:59 PM on September 2, 2017

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