Steve King Said His White Supremacy Comment Was Taken Out of Context. That’s a Lie.


On Monday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy stripped Steve King of his three assignments on the House agriculture, judiciary, and small business committees over his comment published last Thursday in the New York Times defending white supremacy. The congressman reacted angrily, accusing McCarthy of an “Unprecedented Assault on my Freedom of Speech” and falsely claiming the Times had “completely mischaracterized” his words — which expressed the virtually identical sentiment as what he said to an Iowa television reporter more than two weeks before the 2018 election.

“In a 56 minute interview, we discussed the changing use of language in political discourse,” King wrote in a statement Monday. “We discussed the worn out label ‘racist’ and my observation that other slanderous labels have been increasingly assigned to Conservatives by the Left, who injected into our current political dialog such terms as Nazi, Fascist, ‘White Nationalist, White Supremacist,— [sic] Western Civilization, how did THAT language become offensive? Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?’…just to watch Western Civilization become a derogatory term in political discourse today. [sic]

“Clearly, I was only referencing Western Civilization classes. No one ever sat in a class listening to the merits of white nationalism and white supremacy.”

“I wouldn’t have thought so maybe a year or two or three ago, but today they use it [‘white nationalist’] as a derogatory term and it implies that you are a racist.”

King has a long history of false denials. At the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2012, he sat on a panel with white nationalist author Peter Brimelow, telling him “I’ve read all your books” and praising him for how he “eloquently wrote about the balkanization of America.” After the panel’s conclusion, King told BuzzFeed reporter Rosie Gray that he wasn’t familiar with Brimelow’s work. Last year, after retweeting British neo-Nazi Mark Collett for the second time in as many months, King said that he wasn’t aware of Collett’s racist views and even attempted to cast doubt on the validity of the well-documented claim.

The congressman’s denial Monday is no different — in fact, his own words from an October interview with WHO-TV political reporter Dave Price disprove it.

“Why are you getting involved in this?” Price asked King about his recent endorsement of Faith Goldy, a white nationalist who just months prior stirred up controversy for reciting a white supremacist slogan known as the “14 Words,” running for Toronto mayor.

“This is about freedom of speech,” King replied. “I’m a strong defender of freedom of speech, and when I see that it’s being policed by the politically correct, then, wherever it is, I’ve defended freedom of speech a lot of places in the world, not just in the 4th Congressional District, as some people think it should be confined to. And in her case, she’s a legitimate candidate for the mayor of Toronto.”

He added: “Freedom of speech is good. It’s good for our culture, it’s good for our civilization, it’s good for our continent, and it’s good for the world.”

“The criticism is what she talks about,” Price followed up. “She talks about this white genocide in Canada and about every story I read says she’s a ‘white nationalist.’”

“Isn’t it amazing how these people can come up with this, as if it’s in all of our heads when we’re walking the streets of Iowa and we know what might have gone on in somebody’s head a year or two or 10 or two decades ago?” King asked.

“Some of this stuff, as you know, is more recent with her,” Price said.

“Some of it’s a little more recent,” King replied, “but there’s this police action going on, where once someone has been labeled by the left, then we’re all supposed to step away from them and shun them for whatever they might have said.

“Neither can I be responsible to do a deep background research on everybody’s whatever they might have said at any time.”

“I’m wondering this. The Des Moines Register, for example, said of the president of the United States, in their endorsement of all Democrats here the other day, that he is a racist, he’s a misogynist, he’s divisive, he has committed, what was it, crudities? And I think there’s one more adjective that I’ve forgotten — oh yes, a white nationalist.

“And, so, if that’s all true of the president, and they’re saying we can’t repeat anything anybody’s said that’s ever been labeled any of those things, that means that I can’t retweet the president by the rules of the politically correct. And we better be pushing freedom of speech. That is a constitutional right. American values are good anywhere in the world. We should be encouraging that. That’s part of our culture.”

“What is a white nationalist?” Price asked.

“Well, I’m not sure of that,” King said. “I mean, first of all, I think you have to be white, but then we’ve got Rachel Dolezal that didn’t have to be black to be black, so it is a derogatory term today. I wouldn’t have thought so maybe a year or two or three ago, but today they use it as a derogatory term and it implies that you are a racist. That’s the bottom line for that.”

“Have you met this woman in Toronto?”

“She and I have talked a number of times, face-to-face and not. But we have mutual friends.”

“Is she a supremacist, like these articles say?”

“I don’t know that. I have not seen the evidence of that. Nothing came out in our conversations that would have indicated that, and I took her through a lot of philosophy — this was over the phone. We have mutual friends. I’ve asked some of those questions. But neither can I be responsible to do a deep background research on everybody’s whatever they might have said at any time and then we don’t know what the left is going to hyperventilate over. This is a story that would not be a story if it hadn’t been for CNN and the Des Moines Register and then, who wrote about it, well, the Huffington Post and the Daily Beast.”

Gavin Aronsen
Gavin Aronsen is an editor and reporter for and founding member of the Iowa Informer. He previously worked as a city reporter for the Ames Tribune, research assistant to investigative journalist Wayne Barrett at the Village Voice, and in various roles at Mother Jones, where his work contributed to a National Magazine Award nomination for the magazine's digital media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Email: garonsen [at] iowainformer [dot] com.