On Tuesday, drama at the Daily Wire over its escalating transphobic coverage spilled into public view. A reporter resigned, citing its attacks on transgender people. Matt Walsh, the right-wing outlet’s leading transphobic pundit, didn’t take too kindly to the criticism and responded on Twitter.
The Daily Wire has dedicated significant resources to attacking transgender people. Walsh has made it his personal mission to dehumanize and malign the transgender community for over a year. Last weekend, his colleague Michael Knowles gave a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in which he said that transgender ideology needs to be “eradicated” from society. Many took this as a call to execute or ostracize transgender people. (Knowles didn’t take too kindly to this interpretation of his remarks.)
For Daily Wire reporter Christina Buttons, Knowles’ comment at CPAC appears to have been the last straw. Buttons resigned on Tuesday. In a statement about her departure, she said she was leaving over Daily Wire pundits’ escalating attacks on transgender people.
Buttons wrote that she began working at the Daily Wire with the understanding that adults living their lives who “kept kids out of it” were exempt from its laser focus on the transgender community. She claimed that, in the six months she was with the outlet, she worked hard to “accurately convey the truth” about trans people.
“But such painstaking attention to detail is rendered meaningless when the company’s flagship entertainers and personalities speak impulsively and deploy divisive rhetoric for entertainment and clicks,” she wrote.
She called out Walsh and Knowles by name.
She described Walsh’s transphobic documentary What is a Woman? as “brilliant” but suggested that his rhetoric has become too aggressive of late. Buttons specifically referenced Walsh’s recent segment attacking prominent transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney, whom he called “manufactured and lifeless” and “like some kind of human deepfake.” Buttons said that Walsh defended his remarks as a “good strategy” to rally the base.
“This triggered a race to the bottom, with other social media personas one-upping each other to see who can take more extreme stances,” she wrote. Buttons suggested that Knowles’ comments at CPAC were inspired by Walsh’s influence.
Some congratulated Buttons for taking a stand. “Thank you for making the distinction between caution around transitioning minors and dehumanizing speech against trans people,” @annbauerwriter commented. Others couldn’t understand how anyone could possibly miss all the transphobia at the Daily Wire. “Did you just figure this out,” wondered one.
Walsh was none too pleased. He accused Buttons of being attention-seeking and disloyal, and not having spent enough time “in this fight” to share her opinion.
“Leave if you want but there is no reason to lob baseless insults and question my integrity on the way out the door,” Walsh wrote in a Twitter thread. “Maybe control your ego and try to learn something. We’ve been here longer and done more.”
Buttons replied to Walsh to say that she appreciates his work, including his “part in legislative bans in red states,” which presumably refers to bans on gender-affirming care for transgender youth. But she also reiterated that she disagrees with Walsh’s approach, writing in part, “I am baffled by your ‘strategy’ to not want to ‘convince the other side.’”
Right-wing talking heads are now taking sides.
Ian Miles Cheong lined up behind Walsh. “To see his integrity questioned because you disapprove of his tone means that you’re not in it to win and that you want to take the same milquetoast approach to the culture war that’s put us in this situation in the first place,” Cheong tweeted.
Glenn Greenwald is team Buttons. He praised her “reflective resignation” and criticized those who attack the private decisions of adults, like Walsh did when he went after 26-year-old Mulvaney.
“If you find yourself spending your time trying to control the personal, intimate choices of adults—either through the force of law or moralistic judgment—it’s likely a sign that you have some deep unhappiness and unsettled discomfort within yourself,” Greenwald wrote. “Mind your own business.”
Buttons didn’t respond to an interview request sent via email. She has retweeted some comments from supporters.
Buttons also defended the Daily Wire and its reporters but reiterated her specific issue with the outlet’s pundits like Walsh and Knowles.
“I am leaving because I want to reach people on the center-left and lately I’ve felt there has been a distinct increase in inflammatory rhetoric from some of The Daily Wire’s personalities that make it more difficult to accomplish that,” she wrote.
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*First Published: Mar 7, 2023, 3:16 pm CST
Claire Goforth is a staff writer at the Daily Dot covering all things politics and technology with a focus on the far right and conspiracy theories.