A prominent right-wing influencer aligned with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) sent loads of antisemitic and racist text messages—and right-wing influencers tied to former President Donald Trump want you to know about it.
One problem: the problematic messages were sent back when the influencer was a Trump supporter.
And the irony of those in a far-right movement where antisemitism and racism fester being offended that someone now working in a far-right movement where antisemitism and racism fester acted antisemitically and racist was not lost on the internet.
On Tuesday, the pro-Trump news outlet Breitbart published an exclusive story containing nearly 150 messages sent by Pedro Gonzalez in 2019 and 2020. The vile messages included antisemitic tropes, a conspiracy theory that Israelis were behind the Sept. 11 attacks, and an expressed belief that “Whites must remain a majority.”
Another text read “Yeah like not every Jew is problematic, but the sad fact is that most are,” and several showed Gonzalez defending white nationalist and Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes, a prominent Trump supporter.
Although Gonzalez did not deny the Holocaust himself, he at one point wrote, “All I’m saying is, and maybe it’s because I’m a history guy, I don’t see the holocaust as particularly horrifying, when compared to everything else.”
Gonzalez, a former Trump supporter, has branded himself clearly as a DeSantis ally amid the pair’s intense rivalry and fight for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
Gonzalez’s posts as a pro-DeSantis influencer have been shared by DeSantis’ campaign manager, rapid response director, an adviser to the pro-DeSantis political action committee Never Back Down, and others in DeSantis’ camp.
The DeSantis campaign did not reply to a request for comment from Breitbart, however, a spokesperson for Never Back Down called Gonzalez’s statements “inexcusable” and said the PAC has no relationship with him, before touting DeSantis’ “strong record of combatting antisemitism.”
Gonzalez denounce the article after it published as a “smear campaign by Trump’s camp” and promised not “to let the Trump campaign silence me.”
“The only reason my private messages—messages I exchanged with *Trump supporters* from a different, dumb season of my life—are being used against me is that I’ve become the most effective critic of Trump since jumping off the Trump train,” he said.
The story has been amplified and reshared by Trump supporters, including Donald Trump Jr.
Former acting director of National Intelligence and Trump adviser Richard Grennell responded to Gonzalez’s tweet defending himself, writing, “Ummm, antisemitic and racist talk is not to be dismissed as simply a dumb moment. No one should ever dismiss this type of language.”
Other Trump proponents amplifying the story include Ryan Fournier, the co-founder of Students for Trump, and Trump-aligned consultant Alex Bruesewitz.
In a separate tweet, Bruesewitz wrote that “Gonzalez has spent the last many months viciously smearing and lying about Trump and his supporters” and said that “Team DeSantis is made up of some of the scummiest and most vile people in politics.” Bruesewitz also retweeted a post that claimed Gonzalez himself leaked old texts with Bruesewitz.
While Trumpworld has latched onto the story and flatly condemned Gonzalez, the DeSantis influencer still has support.
Conservative author David Reaboi called “the slime-job attack” “totally reprehensible,” and said that Gonzalez had previously caught got up in a “stupid and gross” political scene that he has since walked away from.
“The Left wants you to think the problem with this stuff is amorphous “hate,” but it’s really *error*—the ugly stuff is just error delivered with enthusiasm. You don’t cancel people for that; you educate them where they’re mistaken,” he added.
Ben Domenech, editor-at-large at the Spectator, said he isn’t a fan of Gonzalez personally but that Breitbart’s piece is nonetheless unfair.
“Many of the examples cited are in jest. He’s said horrid things but he does not deserve cancellation,” Domenech wrote. “Give him some grace.”
Others sympathetic toward Gonzalez accused Breitbart of perpetuating cancel culture and argued Gonzalez has since grown.
“Breitbart coming at a DeSantis pundit with leftist cancel culture tactics,” tweeted one user.
“Are we sure the Trump Right isn’t just a variant of the Left?” wrote another, noting that the texts came from when Gonzalez was “a dumb college student.”
But to some, cancel culture isn’t what’s being used here, given that the text messages weren’t some old take but sent within the last few years.
“Dude, you made racist and anti-semitic remarks. Are you telling us that you have changed in less than two years?” tweeted Republican media publisher Javier Manjarres.
“If you said one or two bad things 15 years ago is not the same as this,” wrote another user in response to cancel culture claims.
While the Breitbart story has captivated and divided conservative circles, some outside the fray are pointing out that neither the DeSantis nor Trump camps are guiltless in this instance, as Gonzalez’s texts were sent to Trump supporters before he’d joined the DeSantis wagon.
“So no one going to ask why Breitbart intentionally concealed the identities of the other members of that group chat despite admitting that they often agreed with those indefensible messages?” asked one user, later adding that it is “much harder to do a pro-DeSantis influencer story like that if everyone else agreeing/parroting is recognizably pro-Trump.”
“Best case scenario, he shares complete versions of the convos [Breitbart] posted and takes some of the other MAGA celebs down with him,” wrote another.