Right Wing Attacks on Greta Thunberg: How Low Can They Go? Canada's Extremist Network 'The Rebel' Tries for the Prize

Right Wing Attacks on Greta Thunberg: How Low Can They Go? Canada's Extremist Network 'The Rebel' Tries for the Prize
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The Koch-funded right wing echo chamber seems obsessed with competing to insult and vilify Greta Thunberg in the most vile and disgusting ways imaginable. The sixteen-year-old climate activist has faced a coordinated barrage of bullying and harassment that started long before she set sail for America. “Freak yachting accidents do happen…” was a particularly disturbing attack, coming from British businessman and Trump ally Arron Banks

But right now, Greta’s in Alberta, home to some of the world’s dirtiest oil, and also apparently some of the dirtiest mudslinging against the courageous and clear-spoken Swede. 

My colleague Mat Hope recently laid out an extensive map of the “free market” lobbyist network behind the attacks on Greta Thunberg, including Canada’s far-right propaganda outlet masquerading as journalism, The Rebel.

Yesterday, The Rebel’s Keean Bexte — who has a history of connections to white supremacists and once sold apartheid-era memorabilia — posted a video of his obnoxious and vile “interview” with Greta at her hotel in Edmonton. The situation got so far out of control that Greta’s team mentioned the option of calling the police unless Bexte stopped harassing them.

Bexte’s edited video shows him following Greta in the hallway of her hotel, lobbing loaded questions about if “climate change is politics” as she disagrees and her team asks him to stop talking to her. He also shows clips of him confronting Greta and her father over whether she should be traveling so much, particularly to Canada and not China or India, while wrongly conflating her Asberger’s with a “mental illness” and “severe autism.”

Bexte flagrantly advertises where the teenager is staying and which car she’s using (a dangerous practice known as “doxxing”), and then clearly tries to accuse the 16-year-old climate activist of attempting to influence Canada’s federal elections.

Reactions to The Rebel’s behavior on Twitter 

The Rebel was founded by Ezra Levant, a climate denier who once interned at the Charles Koch Foundation. The Rebel earned some notoriety for their laudatory coverage of participants in the deadly 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville.

The fallout included statements from Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer, who said he would no longer grant interviews to The Rebel, as well as a similar rebuke from Vivian Krause, an industry-funded Canadian researcher and blogger who questions the accuracy of mainstream climate science and who refused to answer questions when confronted by The Rebel earlier this year. The interviewer in that case was, again, Keean Bexte. 

Krause had appeared on The Rebel before, and Ezra Levant was quite enthusiastic about amplifying Krause’s conspiracy theory about ‘foreign funded radicals’ otherwise known as Canadian climate action advocates and environmentalists. So I was surprised to see Krause so annoyed with The Rebel trying to cover her activities. But after seeing the way Keean Bexte treated Greta Thunberg this week, it makes more sense.

The Rebel is just a horrible outlet, focused on amplifying hate and polarization, and it exemplifies the scourge of propaganda that is infecting democracy across the globe. 

Here is DeSmog UK‘s map of the lobbying forces attacking Greta wherever she goes in pursuit of climate action.

Main image: Greta Thunberg. Credit: European ParliamentCC BY 2.0

Right Wing Attacks on Greta Thunberg: How Low Can They Go? Canada's Extremist Network 'The Rebel' Tries for the Prize
Brendan is Executive Director of DeSmog. He is also a freelance writer and researcher specializing in media, politics, climate change and energy. His work has appeared in Vanity Fair, The Huffington Post, Grist, The Washington Times and other outlets.

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