Congressman Matt Gaetz has been criticized for having Chuck Johnson, an controversial right-wing blogger, as his guest for the State of the Union address. On “Pensacola Speaks,” Gaetz explained how Johnson became his guest.
“My dad was supposed to be my guest, at the last minute he wasn’t able to make it,” explained Gaetz. “Another member of congress sent someone over to pick up a guest, so as a professional courtesy, I just made it available because I didn’t have one. It turned out to be a very controversial figure, a guy named Chuck Johnson, but I will say though it’s my fault for not having appropriately vetted him, and the criticism of me for that is fair.”
Politico described Johnson as an “alt-right troll who’s been banned from Twitter and accused of Holocaust denying and white nationalism.”
Rep.Gaetz said that some of the criticism of Mr. Johnson seems to be somewhat misplaced.
“Alan Dershowitz today put out a statement indicating that he’s known Mr. Johnson his whole life, and he’s not a Holocaust denier, not a white supremacist or an anti-Semite. And Alfred Balitzer, the founder of the Republican Jewish Coalition, someone who’s been on the board at the Simon Wiesenthal Fund, which actually goes and hunts down Nazis and brings them to justice. He even put out a statement thanking Charles Johnson for all of the donations he’s made to a variety of pro-Israel causes and indicating that the attacks were taken out of context greatly.”
On his website, Johnson wrote last Thursday, “I am not, nor have I ever been a Holocaust denier.”
He said that he said while in high school he worked for Dershowitz–“I donated at the time to Jewish organizations like StandWithUs — which backed me — and edited books written by Dershowitz about the Holocaust.”
In a Feb. 4 post, Johnson apologized for posts on Reddit last year that “could fairly be characterized as Holocaust denial.” He claimed the comments didn’t express his beliefs but were part of a project to test the commitments of tech companies to free speech. (Comments below)
“What would lead the other tech companies to suspend accounts? Do they have any limits?” wrote Johnson. “I set about finding them, getting myself kicked off or suspended on platform after platform to learn how their algorithms worked. The #Fakenews says that I was kicked off of Twitter for racism, but Twitter execs now admit that it suspended me not because of what I said but because they loathed my politics.”
Johnson admitted the tactic backfired on him personally, hurting his relationships in the Jewish community.
He said, “I apologize to those who may be offended by some of the tactics I have used and while they have been effective at my narrow political goals they have harmed positive relations among all people and for that I am sorry. I commit never to using such a tactic again because its use is ultimately harmful to the Holocaust survivor community and to the greater cause of good will among Jew and Gentile alike.”
Thanks to a Google search I found what Johnson wrote on Reddit last year: