In the summer of 2015, the Republican consultant Rick Wilson, who opposed Trump throughout the campaign, tweeted an article that made mention of there being some racist content at Breitbart. In retaliation, Bannon and Washington editor Matt Boyle prepared a list of questions for a colleague who was writing about a Wilson client, including one accusing Wilson of having called conservatives racist. (Washingtonian first reported the email.) This particular staffer declined to ask the candidate, Carlos Lopez-Cantera, the questions.
But according to Wilson, a press aide to the campaign told him that someone from Breitbart had indeed called: McHugh. One of the former Breitbart staffers confirmed the existence of the email and confirmed they heard that they had heard McHugh was trying to contact Wilson’s clients.
McHugh didn’t respond to requests for comment. Bannon didn’t respond to a request for comment.
McHugh’s Twitter feed over the last few years contains multiple examples of tweets that are just as explosive as the one that got her fired.
“British settlers built the USA. "Slaves” built the country much as cows “built” McDonald’s. Amateur…” she tweeted in September 2015. Also that month, McHugh called for an end to Muslim immigration: “The only way to strike a balance between vigilance, discrimination, (& terror) is to end Muslim immigration.” She has often used the word “cuck,” a slur popular on the white nationalist alt-right internet, and has tweeted disparagingly about Mexicans, Native Americans, and others.
Far-right pro-Trump activists have sprung to McHugh’s defense in the wake of her firing, and turned on Breitbart.
“Breitbart has wanted to pivot to a site more like The Hill, multiple current and former writers there told me. It's a mistake, as they'll see. The media world doesn't need another Hill or Politico,” “new right” blogger and tweeter Mike Cernovich said in an email. “It's [sic] needs more right wing sites. What Katie said is no worse than what many people at mainstream sites and TV networks have said. The double standards are tiresome to readers, who will continue fleeing Breitbart. Firing Katie was a business decision.”
“Clearly there has been a PC escalation at Breitbart,” said the alt-right leader Richard Spencer, who has met McHugh. “Katie said more inflammatory things on her personal Twitter account in previous years and was not fired or publicly rebuked.”
“Now that Bannon and Milo are gone, it's clear that Breitbart News is being run by cucks,” wrote blogger Vox Day in a post titled “Breitbart is truly dead.”
McHugh has reacted defiantly in the wake of being sacked, tweeting that the company fired her for “telling the truth about Islam and Muslim immigration” and launching a fundraiser on Wesearchr, a website run by infamous troll Charles C. Johnson.
“I said nothing wrong,” McHugh said in a statement on the fundraising page. “As President Donald Trump says, if we don’t get smart, it will only get worse. It’s also interesting Breitbart News chose to fire me rather than colleagues leaking to CNN.”
Breitbart has not put out a statement on McHugh’s departure and a spokesman for the company did not respond to a request for comment.