Having a media background is a major plus with the far-right Oath Keepers militia: report

Having a media background is a major plus with the far-right Oath Keepers militia: report

Having a BA or masters in journalism, broadcasting or mass communication isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of applicants to the Oath Keepers — a far-right militia group that, according to law enforcement, played a role in the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol Building along with members of the Proud Boys and QAnon. But in an intriguing article published by Rolling Stone on December 2, journalist Tim Dickinson explains why having media or public relations experience is considered a big plus in joining the Oath Keepers.

“When joining a right-wing militia,” Dickinson explains, “most members brag about their military credentials, tactical training, or prowess with firearms. But a select group of members in the hacked Oath Keeper rolls touted a very different skillset: pledging to be information warriors for the extremist group.”

Presumably, the type of media experience would play a role in how valuable the Oath Keepers would consider an applicant to be. A resumé that included One America News (OAN), World Net Daily, Newsmax, the Gateway Pundit and Alex Jones’ Infowars, presumably, would probably look better to an Oath Keeper than a liberal-friendly resumé that included Mother Jones, The Nation, Salon and MSNBC.

But according to Dickinson, some Oath Keepers applicants have bragged about their “past affiliations with the Washington Post, USA Today, Tampa Tribune as well as local television news and newspaper outlets from New Jersey to Kansas to Arizona.”

“For the Oath Keepers,” Dickinson observes, “having access to such a deep pool of media talent ‘can be incredibly useful,’ says Alex Friedfeld, an investigative researcher at the Center on Extremism, housed at the Anti-Defamation League. These information warriors, he says, can help the militia group “create an image that is cool, competent, and appealing to potential members — and then blast it out to a far larger audience than if they were trying to recruit in person.”

Dickinson points out that the names of people with media backgrounds were not hard to find when the far-right group was hacked.

According to Dickinson, “These media militiamen are among nearly 40,000 individuals listed in an Oath Keeper membership database that was hacked, leaked to a transparency group called Denial of Distributed Secrets, and then made available to the media. The membership rolls have formed the basis of reporting for outlets from New York Times and NPR to BuzzFeed and the Daily Dot. Rolling Stone’s own reporting has identified Oath Keepers in state government, sheriff’s departments, and even the board of the National Rifle Association.”

Dickinson discusses the types of media outlets that applicants specified when they approached the Oath Keepers.

“While many of these Oath Keeper info-warriors appear to be veterans of the media mainstream, others hail from identifiably right-wing outlets,” Dickinson notes. “One enrollee described themselves as the ‘owner of monthly newspaper in South Texas with decidedly constitutional, libertarian political bent.’ An Illinois man claimed to ‘own and manage an Anti-Establishment Financial News Network’ with a ‘following of over 100,000 and rapidly growing.’”

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