Wednesday night, a day after President Donald Trump failed to dismiss the proud boys during a presidential debate, instead of asking them to “stand back and stand by,” Deputy Media CEO Nancy Dubuc sent an email to her staff to reassure them that the media company has no current connection with McInnes.
“I’m sure we’re all still trying to make sense of what was said last night in the US presidential debate, but I would like to write to you to make one thing clear: Gavin McInnes has no affiliation with VICE,” said Dubuc in her email, which was obtained by CNN Business. “While the legacy of his role in founding the company is swirling from time to time ̵
1; I want you all to be sure that any affiliation he had with the company ended more than ten years ago in 2008. “What he did after that – including founding the Proud Boys in 2016 – had nothing to do with VICE, our values or our people.”
McInnes may not be affiliated with Vice Media at this time. But he was a co-founder of the alternative magazine that grew into what Vice Media is today, and he worked at Vice for 14 years.
McInnes, along with Shane Smith and Suroosh Alvi, bought a Canadian-funded Voice of Montreal magazine in 1994. According to a profile in The Guardian in 2008, the three took control of the magazine after an outburst with the publisher. . They changed their name to Vice and later moved to New York City, expanding the magazine internationally.
McInnes wrote under aliases much of the content for Vice in his early days before they had a budget for freelancers, according to a New Yorker profile in 2013. He was also a co-author of several vice books.
In a speech and answer with the New York Press in 2002, McInnes said he was happy that hipsters in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where Vice is headquartered, were white. After a letter-writing campaign from a black reader, Vice apologized for McInnes’ comment, The New York Times later reported. He was also quoted by the Times as saying: “I love being white and I think it’s something to be very proud of. I do not want our culture diluted. We have to close the borders now and let everyone assimilate to a western, white, English-speaking lifestyle. ” An unnamed ex-employee told The New Yorker “[t]hat was the beginning of the end “of McInnes’ time with Vice.
When McInnes left Vice in 2008, the company had invested in creating digital video and gained fame for its provocative documentaries. Vice was on track to become a treasure trove of media investors who, by its likely high-water mark in 2017, would be valued at $ 5.7 billion. McInnes traveled “because of creative differences with his partners,” according to The New York Times.
McInnes founded the Proud Boys in 2016. He quit in 2018, but in 2019, the Southern Poverty Law Center sued for designating the organization a hate group. Officially, the group describes itself as organized around the belief that “West is the best” – what they call Western chauvinism – and rejects the label of white supremacists and alt-right. They say they oppose both racism and “racial guilt”. They are in favor of closed borders, gun rights and “honorable housewives.” In a statement to CNN Business on Thursday, McInnes rejected the notion that the proud boys are racists or white supremacists.
Current Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio told CNN’s Elle Reeve, who previously worked for Vice, that he was pleased with the president’s comment to the Proud Boys about “standing back and standing by.”
In Wednesday’s staff statement, Dubuc wrote: “I hope that our work, our culture and our leadership speak for themselves unequivocally, but let me say – to leave no doubt – we condemn all white supremacy, racism and hatred in any form. “
Vice has also largely covered the proud boys and other right-wing extremist groups, Dubuc noted.
“Our award-winning team has led the charge of holding the proud boys and other similar groups accountable through harsh and uneven investigative journalism. Our team has produced world-class reporting on everything-right from Charlottesville to Louisville and most recently Portland,” Dubuc wrote. “I thank you for your unwavering commitment to continue this work – and if anyone is having a hard time, send them to me. I’m happy to set the record straight.”
Vice Media declined to comment beyond Dubuc’s email.
When CNN Business reached out to McInnes with a text message about what Dubuc had written, he replied, “I created that brand and defined the content from the start to the time I left in 2008. My pithy irreverence still haunts it like Banquos ghost.”