Conservatives slammed CNN after the outlet accused a Republican congressional candidate of having “ties to white nationalists.”
In an article titled “GOP congressional candidate Joe Kent’s ties to white nationalists include interview with Nazi sympathizer,” CNN’ K-File newsletter reported that Washington Republican House candidate Joe Kent gave an interview to a blogger who has a history of white nationalist and anti-Semitic remarks. But the outlet also published a statement from the Kent campaign saying that he had no idea who the individual was. The Kent campaign and conservatives slammed CNN for attempting to smear Kent anyway.
“GOP congressional candidate Joe Kent gave a previously unreported interview in June to a Nazi sympathizer and White nationalist, despite disavowing White nationalism last spring when one of its adherents endorsed him,” CNN reporter Em Steck wrote in a Twitter thread promoting the story.
According to CNN, the individual in question “has a well-documented history of making White nationalist, racist, antisemitic and pro-Nazi statements.” That individual has been photographed at a Kent campaign event. The outlet also shared video of the interview, in which the individual can be seen talking to Kent on a sidewalk. But CNN also published comments from Kent campaign spokesman Matt Braynard, who told the outlet that the individual approached Kent on the street and asked for an interview.
Braynard also published the campaign’s full comment on Twitter. “Joe Kent had no idea who that individual was when he encountered him on the street and [he] has repeatedly condemned the statements that the individual is accused of making,” he wrote. “[W]e screen all interview requests, but at the time, Joe was approached on the street by what he assumed was just a citizen journalist and a constituent, so in support of local journalism, Joe answered his questions. None of the questions gave Joe any indications that the individual had any racist or antisemitic views, and if he had, Joe would have cancelled the interview immediately.” Braynard also said the individual is in no way associated with the campaign.
Their email and our response.
— Matt Braynard (@MattBraynard) September 30, 2022
Kent himself also fired back at CNN on his personal Twitter account. “I fought for our nation for over 20 yrs w/ Americans of every race & would gladly do so again,” he tweeted. “White nationalists sided w/ my opponents & spent money against me in the primary. I’m proud to be viewed as a threat by white nationalists, antifa, democrats & @CNN.”
Other conservatives on Twitter blasted the outlet for making accusations against Kent based on a random street interview.
“Dude, this is so pathetic,” Conservative digital strategist Greg Price wrote. “Your argument really is that because a random guy came up to Joe Kent on the street and asked him questions that he has ‘ties’ to white nationalists? Quite a lame attempt to knock down a candidate leading in the polls.”
“Slandering a decorated soldier like @joekent16jan19 – that’s the Democrat media,” TownHall senior columnist Kurt Schlicter responded.
“So…you have ‘ties to’ anyone who comes up to you on the street and asks you questions?” user @JenDinnj wrote. “Hope you stretched first before that reach, wouldn’t want to see you pull a hammy…”
“This is the Democrat strategy: have some weirdo go get a photo with your candidate, give it to @KFILE, get smeared on @cnn as a ‘white nationalist,’” Braynard added.
Kent defeated Jamie Herrera-Beutler, one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach former President Trump, in Washington’s jungle primary in August; he faces Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez in the general election. The race is listed as “Leans Republican” by the Cook Political Report.