It was a classic case of he-said, he said.
Blake Masters, Donald Trump’s pick for Senate in Arizona, swore last week that he doesn’t know Gab CEO Andrew Torba, calling him a “nobody” that “nobody cares about.” Torba — who has endorsed Masters’ Senate run and once said he’d vote for Masters over Trump for president “in a heartbeat” — insisted Masters was “flat out” lying.
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Thanks to leaked audio obtained by Jewish Insider, it’s now clear that Masters was lying about his association with the far-fight social media entrepreneur, whose platform is a playground for those whose extremist views have gotten them booted from mainstream platforms like Twitter and Facebook. The pair had an extended exchange earlier this year on Twitter Spaces, in which Torba explained in detail how Gab had been booted from mainstream app stores, and Masters expressed sympathy for the right-wing entrepreneur, railing against the power of Big Tech, and telling Torba: “That’s obviously super messed up.”
Torba is the founder of the far-right social network, and openly anti-Semitic. He recently made headlines by insisting that Christians are “done being controlled” in “our own country” by the “2 percent minority” — by which he meant Jewish people — adding: “We’re not bending the knee to the 2 percent anymore.”
An unabashed Christian nationalist, Torba positions Gab as a social network for “free speech.” The Anti-Defamation League decries Gab, accurately, as a “haven for extremists, conspiracy theorists and misinformation.”
Torba is a darling in MAGA circles, but he has become a headache for Republicans running for statewide office in purple states who need to reach beyond the base. Doug Mastriano — Trump’s pick for governor in Pennsylvania — has come under fire recently for his financial relationship with Gab and past praise of Torba. He ultimately deleted his account on the site, while denouncing anti-Semitism, and insiting that Torba “doesn’t speak for me.”
The seeds for the present controversy with Masters were sown in late July. Torba took note of a wave of hardcore MAGA candidates in Arizona, and endorsed a “Gab Caucus” that included Oath Keeper state Sen. Wendy Rogers; 2020 election conspiracy theorist and secretary of state candidate Mark Finchem; Rep. Paul Gosar, who sought a pardon from Trump for his work in the runup to Jan. 6; and Kari Lake, the rabidly anti-immigrant former newscaster running for governor.
Torba also endorsed Masters — for a second time. He had “fully” endorsed Masters in June, sharing, with seeming approval, a hit ad from one of Masters’ opponents that painted Masters as having troublingly anti-Semitic tendencies.
Several members of the Arizona “Gab Caucus” were delighted to have Torba’s endorsement. Finchem wrote on Gab: “Thank you, Andrew Torba … for fighting for freedom of speech. Honored to have your endorsement.” Rogers, similarly, wrote: “Honored to be endorsed by Freedom of Speech pioneer Andrew Torba.”
But Masters was quick to distance himself from the Gab CEO. In a statement to the Arizona Mirror, Masters said: “I’ve never heard of this guy and I reject his support.” Then Masters laid it on thick: “The reason I’ve never heard of him is because he’s a nobody, and nobody cares about him except the media.”
Torba told a very different story. In a series of Telegram posts, he wrote: “LOL, I literally had a conversation with Blake Masters a few months ago on Twitter Spaces. He knows exactly who I am.” Torba did not withdraw his endorsement, insisting “I want him to win anyway.” But he accused Masters of bending the knee to “media pressure” and acting like “a typical politician before he is even elected.” It’s “concerning,” Torba added, that “Blake can flat out lie like this.”
Rolling Stone reached out to Torba on Gab. He did not respond. (Torba does not speak to non-Christian media outlets.) He did, however, post the Jewish Insider piece on Telegram with the message: “Daily reminder: don’t tell lies.”
Reached earlier this week by Rolling Stone, the Masters campaign had doubled down, insisting — falsely, as it turns out — that the candidate doesn’t know Torba in the slightest. Katie Miller, a former Mike Pence staffer who is now a senior adviser to the Masters campaign, provided a statement via email:
“Blake interacts with tens of thousands of people on Twitter Spaces,” Miller wrote. “The sentiment remains that he doesn’t know Torba and rejects his support. Why does Rolling Stone want to amplify White Nationalists?” added Miller. (Miller is married to the former Trump White House anti-immigrant crusader Stephen Miller.)
After publication of this story, Miller responded to a new round of questions from Rolling Stone. Miller now insists that she had provided the original quote attributed to Masters, and bore responsibility for its inaccuracy. “In the speed of moving too fast to dispense with the notion that Blake would welcome support from Torba,” she wrote, “I, Katie Miller, inserted the line [that] he had never heard of [him].” Miller angrily accused Rolling Stone of “giving a platform to someone who is undeserving.” This is ironic given that Masters can be heard on the new audio objecting to Torba’s de-platforming.
It’s not difficult to understand Torba’s ideological attraction to Masters, a venture capitalist who is bankrolled by his longtime boss, the Trumpy big-tech billionaire Peter Thiel.
Masters has blamed gun violence on, “Black people, frankly.”
He has parroted the tenets of the racist “great replacement theory,” suggesting that Democrats are trying “to change the demographics of our country” and “import an entirely new electorate.”
He has spoken conspiratorially of the insurrection in Washington, suggesting that “one-third of the people outside of the Capitol complex on January 6 were actual FBI agents.”
In past writings on the far-right newssite LewRockwell.com, he blamed the U.S. entry into World War I on the “Houses of Morgan and Rothschild,” called World War II an “unjust” war, and closed an essay with a “poignant” quote from the Nazi Hermann Göring.
In 2008, he filmed himself freestyle rapping while wearing “war paint,” rhyming: “OK, I dress up as an Indian / If you don’t like it I’m going to take you in / to the politically correct police, throw you in jail….”
Torba’s is not the only politically toxic backer the GOP candidate has attracted. Masters has also drawn backing from noxious white supremacists, including the Hitler-praising “Groyper” leader Nick Fuentes, who recently gave Masters “my complete and full endorsement,” praising in particular the candidate’s remarks on race and gun violence. Masters has also won the heart of Andrew Anglin, publisher of The Daily Stormer: “I cannot give a more forceful endorsement,” the publisher of the Neo-Nazi site wrote in June. “This is exactly the kind of man this country needs.”
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