On Tuesday, Politicoeditor Michael Hirsh found this out the hard way, when he was forced to resign his position after posting the addresses of a leading white supremacist, Richard B. Spencer, on social media. He seemed to suggest followers show up with baseball bats.
Spencer’s National Policy Institute jumped into the spotlight with a meeting last week in Washington D.C., in which Spencer told the audience: “America was until this past generation a white country designed for ourselves and our posterity. It is our creation, it is our inheritance, and it belongs to us.”
Spencer later roused the audience with a Nazi salute amid calls of “Hail Trump.”
As controversy roiled over the NPI meeting and a photo of Web celebrity Tila Tequila giving the Nazi salute, Hirsh posted two addresses for Spencer on Facebook with the remark: “Stop whining about Richard B. Spencer, Nazi, and exercise your rights as decent Americans. Here are his two addresses.”
In case anyone missed the subtext of incitement, Hirsh added in response to another user’s social-media response: “I wasn’t thinking of a fucking letter, Doug. He lives part of the time next door to me in Arlington. Our grandfathers brought baseball bats to Bund meetings. Want to join me?”
(Hirsh is referring to the Bund, a pro-Nazi organization of German Americans that was active in the 1930s).
Hirsh resigned from his post at Politico on Tuesday afternoon, as Politico editor-in-chief John Harris and editor Carrie Budoff Brown condemned his statements as indefensible. Noting they were “clearly outside the bounds of acceptable discourse, the editors added: "They crossed a line in ways that the publication will not defend, and editors are taking steps to ensure that such a lapse does not occur again.”
Hirsh’s actions are bound to attract attention, in part because they seem to complicate the popular theme of rightist violence in the wake of Trump’s victory, often highlighted in the press and social media.
Following the election, representatives from both sides have tried to pin the blame for violent rhetoric on the other, with the usual claims and counterclaims of provocateurs seeking to tarnish their opponents.