CBS’ “The Good Fight,” a fictional television program, said on its show last week that it’s OK to punch a Nazi from time to time ― but for conservative media types and white supremacists alike, the message constituted incitement against people with legitimate “political opinions.”
On April 10, the show aired an episode called “The One Where a Nazi Gets Punched,” during which character Jay DiPersia (played by Nyambi Nyambi) turns to the camera and delivers a monologue about punching Nazis. At points, the infamous clip of white nationalist Richard Spencer getting punched during a TV interview flashes on screen.
“Is it all right to hit a Nazi unprovoked?” Jay asks the audience. “I was always taught never to throw the first punch, never to instigate. Defend, but don’t attack. But then I saw a video of the white nationalist Richard Spencer being punched in the face during an interview. I realized Spencer was in a pressed suit, wearing a tie, being interviewed like his opinion mattered — like it should be considered part of the conversation ... It’s time to punch a few Nazis.”
Vulture called the monologue a “deep breath of fresh mountain air.” It could also have been described as a near-tired play on an old meme ― “punch Nazis” has been a pop culture sensation since at least “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”
Instead, the monologue was characterized by conservatives as network TV “inciting violence” against a “political” group.
What followed was a shared sense of victimization between fringe online voices ― including open white supremacists ― and more mainstream conservative outlets. Prominent conspiracy theorists like Pizzagate pushers Paul Joseph Watson and Nick Monroe complained on Twitter that the monologue is “a step-by-step Anarchist Cookbook of how to incite violence” and argued that the TV show was errant in its attempts to “silence” Nazis.
“A promo clip for the CBS legal drama show The Good Fight openly advocates using violence to silence political opinions,” tweeted Watson, an employee of conspiracy theory site Infowars.
Then, more conventional conservative media joined the bad-faith chorus. “Is CBS Inciting Violence In The Latest Episode Of ‘The Good Fight,’” wondered RedState.com. The American Conservative went further with its headline: “CBS: The Antifa Network.”
“Look, Richard Spencer is a terrible person, but I find this to be disturbing,” wrote Rod Dreher of the American Conservative on Saturday. “A network series actually affirms and justifies the violent physical assault of a living American who was peacefully stating his opinion.”
Over the weekend, those outlets joined hands with conspiracy theorists and white supremacists to attack CBS and, in the case of the white supremacists, attack Nyambi online as well.
Jared Wyand, a violent white nationalist who on Twitter openly calls for “220,000,000 whites” to “reconquer America,” tweeted at Nyambi that the actor “will never raise your hand to a white man.” Other white supremacists like Jack Corbin spent the weekend screeching slurs and threats at the actor on Twitter, as Michael Hayden of Southern Poverty Law Center pointed out.
Eventually, Nyambi and CBS deleted tweets related to the monologue. But conservative pearl-clutching over “The Good Fight” was far from over. Fox News on Monday latched onto drama from another of the show’s tweets, which depicts a list of “target words” used by NSA analysts on the show. The first three read, in order, Assassinate, President, and then Trump.
As Deadline reports, the show was trying to draw attention to an unrelated Easter egg in the photo. But those words were enough to trigger conservative outrage, with some wondering whether the TV network wanted to hurt the president. Fringe-right personality Ali Alexander called both episodes acts of “terrorism” and wrote that “CBS is trying to get the President of the United States and tens of millions of voters killed.” Fox News covered what it called “outrage” sparked by the message. CBS, again, deleted its tweet.
It’s not necessarily newsworthy when conservative voices hand-wring over bad-faith attempts to ascribe violence to the political left. It’s noteworthy, however, when they join white supremacists to claim that a TV drama’s attack on Nazis is an attack on their own.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story mistakenly described Monroe as an Infowars employee. Watson is an Infowars employee.