UFC Fighter Delivers A Masterclass In How To Deal With The Media

TORONTO, ONTARIO - JANUARY 18: Sean Strickland is seen on stage during the UFC 297 press conference at The Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre on January 18, 2024 in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

It was just a few days ago that a Republican lawmaker from South Carolina named Nancy Mace invoked the invented concept of “white privilege” in a congressional hearing. She was supposedly trying to put Hunter Biden in his place by saying that he’s the beneficiary of “white privilege,” because he can ignore subpoenas without suffering any consequences. But as I explained on the show at the time, all Nancy Mace did was legitimize the Left’s framing, which is fundamentally anti-white and fraudulent. Hunter Biden does not benefit from his skin color. He benefits from the fact he’s the son of the president of the United States. Everyone knows that.

So all Nancy Mace accomplished was reinforcing a false narrative that demonizes millions of white people, and accuses them of having unearned privilege simply because they were born with a certain skin color. She also derailed the entire hearing by allowing Democrats like AOC to harp on their own personal definitions of “white privilege.”

As counterproductive and idiotic as Nancy Mace’s stunt was, it does need to be said that it wasn’t that surprising. Nancy Mace isn’t exactly a staunch, far-right conservative. She raised money for Liz Cheney, came out in support of the so-called “LGBTQ movement,” and voted to hold former Trump adviser Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress. This is the track record of someone you might expect to adopt the Left’s narrative on “white privilege,” because she’s adopted so many of the Left’s other narratives.

The much bigger issue is that Nancy Mace is just one example of a larger problem in the Republican Party — one that affects politicians we’re told are considerably smarter, and more right-of-center, than Nancy Mace.

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Take Matt Gaetz, for example. Gaetz obviously doesn’t comply with the Left’s new speech codes. He publicly humiliated Mark Milley, who was the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff at the time, for teaching soldiers about “white rage.” He also led the effort to oust House Speaker Kevin McCarthy because he wasn’t sufficiently committed to the “America First” movement. All this is to say, Matt Gaetz is the last person you’d expect to pull a Nancy Mace and start adopting the Left’s framing on identity politics.

But this week, that’s exactly what Matt Gaetz did.

Appearing on Newsmax, Gaetz began talking about Donald Trump’s big win in the Iowa Caucuses. And he said that, based on his experience on the ground in Iowa, Trump is attracting more “diverse” voters, meaning voters who aren’t white. And Matt Gaetz presented this as a good thing. Here’s how he phrased it:

“For every Karen we lose, there’s a Julio and a Jamaal ready to sign up for the MAGA movement.” If we decode the language there, Matt Gaetz is saying that in the freezing tundra of Iowa, he apparently didn’t see a lot of white women. But he did see tons of Hispanics and black people coming out for Donald Trump. They were presumably waving their MAGA flags around in the blizzard conditions or whatever.

Even if you pretend that’s true, which it clearly isn’t, the language Matt Gaetz used in that clip tells you a lot. No Republican, Matt Gaetz included, would ever dream of speaking this way about black voters in the reverse. You aren’t going to hear Gaetz say of black voters who don’t vote Republican (which is the vast majority): “Oh we don’t need those Jamals. We’ve got plenty of white people to take their place.” He’s only going to talk like that about white women, or “Karens,” as he calls them.

Here is a Republican who is even considered (wrongly, I think) to be “far right” who has entirely adopted the Left’s anti-white rhetoric and racial double standards. That’s how pervasive this stuff is. He’s happy to attack “Karens,” but he’d never do the same in reverse, because then he’d be called a racist. And he can’t have that.

The other remarkable thing about this clip is how it inverts all of the conservative arguments we’ve been hearing for the past several years. We went from Democrats denying that the Great Replacement was happening, to admitting it and saying it’s good, to Republicans also agreeing that it’s good and advocating for a Great Replacement in their own party. But along with being objectionable, this is also politically suicidal. It actually isn’t at all even close to true that for every white female voter Republicans lose, they’re replacing her with a black voter. White women still support Republicans in far, far greater numbers than black males. It’s not even close. As Ann Coulter has pointed out many times, the only group Trump lost ground with in 2020 was white people — specifically white men. And yet Republicans have apparently decided that the key to victory is to pander for the minority vote while alienating their key constituency.

Whatever explains this self-defeating embrace of identity politics among conservatives, it’s definitely catching on. It’s not just Nancy Mace and Matt Gaetz doing it. In that same hearing where Nancy Mace talked about “white privilege,” Georgia congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene claimed that Hunter Biden was afraid of her because she’s a strong, independent woman. Watch:

She actually said that, as if it was some kind of devastating insult. “He’s not afraid because he’s a criminal; he’s afraid because we’re girlbosses.” That’s the idea. It’s hard to think of a better way to torpedo the case against Hunter Biden than to use lines like this. When you have a strong case against someone, you don’t say they’re afraid because you’re a woman. You say they’re afraid because of the damning facts and evidence you’ve assembled. This is the exact opposite of what Republicans should have done in this hearing, but one after another, they did it. They kept commiting to these vapid displays of identity politics, over and over again.

And it’s not just confined to that one hearing, or to Matt Gaetz interviews. By now we’re all familiar at this point with Nikki Haley’s constant use of identity politics during this campaign. In case you somehow missed it, here’s a mercifully short clip to show you what I’m talking about:

Just like the remarks from Nancy Mace or Marjorie Taylor Greene or Matt Gaetz, this is totally indistinguishable from something AOC might say. It’s the most cliched form of gender politics imaginable. It’s not just stupid. It adopts the Left’s narrative that immutable characteristics — like skin color or gender — matter more than anything else. This is a narrative that has cost millions of people jobs, college admissions, contracting jobs, federal financial assistance, and so on. It has been a disaster for this country and it needs to stop. Instead of saying that, Republicans are embracing it. They’re reinforcing it at every opportunity.

Why is this happening? It’s possible that we’re seeing yet another cynical attempt to win over voters. Maybe that’s the explanation. But if that’s the case, it’s obviously a bad idea. You might remember that Donald Trump devoted years of his presidency to pushing something called “The First Step Act,” which Matt Gaetz promoted. The Trump team even ran a Super Bowl ad featuring a drug trafficker that Trump let out of prison. The idea, according to Trump’s inner circle, was to improve the GOP’s voting share among black Americans. Of course it didn’t work. Black voters in 2020 did what they’ve done in every modern election, which is vote overwhelmingly for Democrats. Trump got basically the same percentage of the black vote that George W. Bush did back in 2004. 

So if identity politics is a ploy for votes, it doesn’t seem likely to work. Identity politics from the Right doesn’t appear to convince anyone. But if you take a few steps back, it’s not hard to see that identity politics is just one part of a much larger problem among conservatives. Increasingly, conservatives are embracing the narratives of the Left, wholesale, even when they’re complete lies. We saw that when Nikki Haley mourned the death of George Floyd. She immediately bought the official narrative, and then she went on to say — as American cities were burning down — that George Floyd’s death needed to be “personal and painful for every American.” We also saw this from Mitt Romney, who marched with BLM, and even chanted their slogans. 

And just the other day, we saw something similar from Ron DeSantis at a CNN town hall. Watch as CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asks DeSantis a question that’s premised on a completely false narrative. And then notice that Ron DeSantis doesn’t push back at all:

As Mike Cernovich pointed out on X, this is completely inexcusable. CNN is flat-out lying about what happened. And in response, maybe because no one briefed him on this, DeSantis just accepts the premise, which originated from the Biden White House, even though it was completely wrong. What happened is that the White House originally claimed that quote, “a woman and two children drowned near Eagle Pass, and Texas officials blocked U.S. Border Patrol from attempting to provide emergency assistance.” That was the report that millions of people heard from CBS News, which broadcast the narrative first.

But shortly afterwards, Joe Biden’s DOJ contradicted that version of events entirely. As Fox’s Bill Melugin pointed out, the DOJ made it clear that quote, “The migrants had already drowned at 8 p.m., and the Border Patrol didn’t inform Texas until an hour later at 9 p.m. … The DOJ now confirms, those migrants had been deceased for an hour before Texas was even alerted about it.”


So it’s just like the false claims that the Border Patrol had “whipped” illegal migrants, as Bill Melugin pointed out. The narrative is just a total lie, as the Biden administration itself admitted. But even after the DOJ admitted that, CNN asked Ron DeSantis about it on the debate stage. And everyone pretended it was true. It’s embarrassing for the DeSantis campaign, for CNN, and for everyone else involved in this moment. But even if the narrative were true — even if illegal migrants had died who could have been saved — it still wouldn’t mean anything. It would be one anecdote that doesn’t tell us anything about immigration policy more generally. But the point is that conservatives reflexively accept the version of events they’re given. They don’t define the narrative. They just play along with the narrative they’re given. The fact that it’s getting harder and harder to find exceptions to this rule is not a good sign for the modern conservative movement.

But the other day, we saw one of these rare exceptions, courtesy of UFC fighter Sean Strickland. Strickland is an American who just arrived in Toronto for the UFC fights this weekend. Here’s how he handled a member of the Canadian press, who tried to corner him with the same kind of dumb gotcha questions that you’ve heard a million times before. Watch:

How many conservative politicians could hold their ground in a situation like that, and affirm — in the face of an “ally” of the LBGTQIA+ community — that transgenderism is a mental illness? You could probably count the number on one hand, if that.

Notice how Sean Strickland doesn’t even remotely accept the premise of this hack’s questions. He doesn’t concede that he was wrong to speak his mind, or to think unapproved thoughts. Instead he immediately identifies the “reporter” as a propagandist and laughs in his face. And he reaffirms what he said before, because it’s what he believes is true. And then afterwards — at his second press conference in Toronto, after there had been a full media cycle about this, and Canada’s state press had labeled him a bigot — what did Sean Strickland do? Watch:


You can hear the crowd loves it. At one point a guy runs up to the stage to shake his hand. So he doesn’t back down, and everyone in the audience recognizes that and appreciates it. He makes a mockery of the people who wanted him to cower and apologize — and there were a lot of them in Canada, particularly in the media. He makes it clear that hate speech isn’t real, which is bold to say in Canada, where transphobia can get you charged with a crime. There you have a UFC fighter who’s a more vocal supporter of freedom of speech than pretty much any conservative politician in America. You won’t find him talking about “white privilege” or “strong conservative women.” This is what resonates now.

If the Republican Party wants to win elections, this is the path it needs to take. If they reject the Left’s obsession with skin color and gender and homosexuality, then voters will respond. We don’t need another “First Step Act,” or any pandering to stereotypes like Julio and Jamaal. We need politicians who are capable of acting like normal people.

If a UFC fighter can do it, there’s no reason the leaders of the Republican Party can’t.

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