Here’s What Happens When You Publicly Oppose Donald Trump On The Internet

David French/ Twitter

Publicly opposing Donald Trump left one conservative commentator and his family facing an endless barrage of online abuse from the so-called “alt-right,” the anti-establishment conservative movement known for its close ties to white nationalism and for its internet-savvy adherents’ coordinated attacks on political and media figures.

David French, a columnist for National Review, and his wife Nancy French, a columnist for the Washington Post, have come under what French called “an unending torrent of abuse that I wouldn’t wish on anyone” in a column published Friday. He describes how, more than a year ago, he began seeing images of his daughter’s face photoshopped into gas chambers or slave ships, and how the comment section of his wife’s blog on Patheos filled with images of extreme violence.

French’s adopted daughter is black and was called “niglet” and “dindu” by French’s online harassers, who also claimed his wife cheated on him with black men while he was deployed to Iraq. It’s a common charge among far-right internet trolls who often accuse others of being cuckolded, both sexually and ideologically.

French recounts how, immediately after he declined to mount an independent run for president, his wife received an email from a Trump supporter “who informed her that he knew the business end of a gun and told her directly that she should shut her mouth or he’d take action.”

In another incident, French wrote that a phone call between his wife and her elderly father was interrupted by a third angry voice on the call, spurring “a brief, anxious search inside my father-in-law’s home for a potential intruder and yet another call to law enforcement.”

French noted that other conservatives have faced similar abuse: commentator Erick Erickson, strategist Rick Wilson, columnist Bethany Mandel, Mi-Ai Parrish, president of the Arizona Republic, and journalist Ben Shapiro. French wrote that Shapiro, who the Anti-Defamation League recently found has the Twitter account most frequently targeted by anti-Semitic attacks, “represents the worst of all possible anti-Trumpers” because “he’s a Jewish man who turned on the twin pillars of the alt-right, Trump, and”

The Trump campaign has stayed incredibly quiet about the barrage of abuse journalists and political figures have reported from individuals swearing their allegiance to Trump.

In May, after journalist Julia Ioffe published a profile of Melania Trump that she says led to a barrage of anti-Semitic death threats, Trump said that while she disagreed with the abuse, “I don’t control my fans,” and, referring to Ioffe, “She provoked them.”

A month later, after New York Observer entertainment writer Dana Schwartz wrote “An Open Letter to Jared Kushner, From One of Your Jewish Employees,” asking Kushner to speak out against the anti-Semitic abuse propagated by some supporters of his father-in-law’s campaign, Kushner responded in the publication. He wrote of Schwartz’s letter, “As always, there are thoughtful points but journalists, even those who work for me at the Observer, are not always right.”

Dear Reader,

When we asked recently what makes TPM different from other outlets, readers cited factors like honesty, curiosity, transparency, and our vibrant community. They also pointed to our ability to report on important stories and trends long before they are picked up by mainstream outlets; our ability to contextualize information within the arc of history; and our focus on the real-world consequences of the news.

Our unique approach to reporting and presenting the news, however, wouldn’t be possible without our readers’ support. That’s not just marketing speak, it’s true: our work would literally not be possible without readers deciding to become members. Not only does member support account for more than 80% of TPM’s revenue, our members have helped us build an engaged and informed community. Many of our best stories were born from reader tips and valuable member feedback.

We do what other news outlets can’t or won’t do because our members’ support gives us real independence.

If you enjoy reading TPM and value what we do, become a member today.

Latest Livewire
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Director of Audience:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: