Andrew Tate should have been anathema to the folks who spend half their time telling us they’re not far right. But, instead, he became a well-dressed, wealthy caricature of a successful “alpha male”, conducting high-profile TV interviews with people like Piers Morgan.
Sure, video may have emerged in 2016 showing him hitting a woman with a belt and leading to his expulsion from the Big Brother house (in a statement, both he and the woman featured in the clip said they were friends and that the actions depicted were consensual). He may also have claimed that, once married, a woman becomes a man’s property – but his reach, influence and masterful command of social media seemingly made up for all that. TalkTV, GB News et al still platformed him.
Then he got arrested. As Tate was held on charges of human trafficking, certain right-wing media outlets scrambled to disassociate themselves from the man who has described himself as “absolutely sexist” and “absolutely a misogynist”. GB News, who previously broadcast an interview with Tate stating (unchallenged) that the pandemic was “imaginary”, ran a show hosted by three women calling out his misogyny.
Julia Hartley-Brewer, who tweeted that she would choose Tate’s lifestyle over that of “doom-mongering eco-cultist” Greta Thunberg, later claimed she didn’t really know who Tate was, branding him “an irrelevance”. She has since decided that Tate is, in fact, a “nasty misogynist”.
Interestingly, earlier this week, Hartley-Brewer also appeared on TalkTV discussing the actions of rioters in Brazil and at the Capitol insurrection, claiming that “what happened with… Trump and Bolsonaro started on the left”.
The concept of the left being responsible for the Capitol insurrection has been around since 2021, when Republicans were pushing it to deflect from their own actions on 6 January. It has been disproven many times, yet remains strong within the QAnon conspiracy circuit who see the left and Antifa as working for the powers that be – while they represent the disenfranchised “alt-right”, a group which could feasibly claim Tate as one of their own. The Capitol claim is one of the more egregious examples of conspiracy theories making their way into mainstream news, but not the only one.
GB News have promoted and hosted a number of anti-vax personalities over the last three years, while their presenters have tweeted in support of discredited books and films promoting unfounded conspiracy theories about the Covid-19 pandemic.
Presenter Calvin Robinson took GBNews’ commitment to the Fox News model one step further, publicly tweeting that “paedophilia is the natural conclusion of liberalism”. Reviving a decades-old homophobic trope, Robinson’s tweet was swiftly immortalised in a graphic by Turning Point UK (TPUK), the UK division of the US far-right student group. TPUK has former members (including Robinson) in various branches of government and associated think tanks, many of whom have appeared on GB News and most of whom appear keen to shove the Overton Window a little further to the right.
TPUK’s 10 point campaign plan, tweeted last week, declared their commitment to “reducing immigration”, “monitoring left-wing indoctrination in schools” and “promoting patriotism”, while bringing back both national service and the death penalty. It is nearly identical to the current policies page of the far-right Patriotic Alternative website.
The fact that social media algorithms allowed Tate to become a “star” is frustrating. It is easy to think “who believes this nonsense”, but their influence on disenfranchised right wingers is undeniable – and may explain why people like him become held up as a poster boy for the alt-right; as an “anti-hero”.
Conspiracy groups with thousands of members have now been so thoroughly infiltrated by the far right that they believe refugees living in hotels are a “secret UN Army” sent to enforce permanent lockdown. Last summer those same groups protested Drag Queen Story Hour, convinced that the LGBT+ community were “normalising paedophilia”.
If we intend to continue functioning as a society, it is our duty to counter hate with the truth. The future of journalism – and much more – depends on it.