I remember how upset Alvi was every time we talked about that article. For him, the son of Pakistani immigrants, the situation seemed particularly dire. Smith was also allegedly furious. Still, it would take five more years for his partners to cut ties with McInnes, which is when things really got Shakespearean.
Knowing the Three witches, Banquo wonders if he has consumed any “insane root / That takes reason prisoner.” McInnes certainly took a prodigious amount of drugs, especially cocaine, as he often boasts. Under his leadership, the magazine openly discussed ways to “maximize your cocaine.” But the intensification of his far-right views coincides with the moment he started taking another psychotropic drug: Adderall, an amphetamine-based stimulant that helps with concentration and is prescribed for ADHD. It can be taken recreationally or to increase productivity, but there are serious consequences if it is abused. (It’s worth noting that Donald Trump has weathered unproven allegations of cordial use of Adderall.)
McInnes, who has spoken publicly about taking Adderall to help him write, has dated his use of the drug to the early 2000s. “I took no more or less than anyone,” he wrote in an email, “and NO, no. affected [sic] my writing. “But those around him realized.” Adderall is a big part of the story, “alleges a former colleague.” He was using Adderall a lot, a lot … We know what the side effects are: it can lead to greatness, to feeling that you are right and the world is wrong. It can include elements of paranoia. And all these psychological phenomena are involved in Gavin’s transformation. “
In an episode of his podcast, McInnes has described how to get Adderall from a Park Avenue doctor. He continued to take the drug after having children with his wife, Emily Jendrisak, whom he married in 2005. The way he describes his bachelor party, held in upstate New York, gives an idea of how upset he apparently became. his vision of the world had returned. According to his autobiography, he got angry with his father “for not using cocaine with us.” Then, he claims, 10 of his friends dressed up as Klan members, “with hoods and all,” while burning a 15-foot wooden cross. (No one I spoke to confirmed to me if this actually happened; McInnes insists in the memoirs that its content is true.) Vice, he also contributed to VDARE.com, a site promoting “the work of white supremacists,” according to the SPLC.
Smith attended the wedding. “I remember him standing there, inspecting,” Eric Digras recalled. Smith, according to the former Vice Employees seemed to know that something would somehow have to change. “There was a kind of rivalry that I think came mainly from Shane,” said Jesse Pearson, the editor at the time. “That’s when it became a Shakespearean play: these two power-hungry lords fighting for the kingdom.” Another colleague from this period added: “The defining aspect of the relationship was their rivalry. They were two shoddy spandex-clad guys trying to outdo each other on their guitar solos every night. “
A decisive turning point came five months after the wedding, when McInnes attended the 2006 American Renaissance Conference, a gathering of “racial realists” that drew hundreds of white nationalists. As his website explains, “attendees are united by a common belief in the intellectual inferiority of blacks, opposition to non-white immigration, and a fervor to maintain America’s white majority.” While there, McInnes noticed former KKK leader David Duke at the bar. “I texted my friends: Dating my old friend David Duke”He explained in our interview. “That became, I’m at a Klan rally…. I think some people used it as an excuse, “which is a reason to link McInnes to the KKK and maybe get rid of him.
Although he never actually wrote about the meeting, he characterized it as a reporting assignment. “It was just me doing my job,” he said. Those around him weren’t so sure. After all, this was the same McInnes who had written in 2002 that a liberal seen in a strip club would “deny it was happening or claim it was some kind of research project.” Regardless of how one chooses to interpret McInnes’s presence at the conference, he practically ended his relationship with Vice. “That became the moment,” Pearson noted. “That thing about forcing out of the company.”
The separation with McInnes took time, a period during which he and his wife had their first child. “One day,” McInnes recalled, “the company built a closed office for the higher ups and I was not in it.” His desk, on the other hand, was in the bullpen, from which he worked, as well as working remotely, until he and the company parted ways. Lesley Arfin, a magazine contributor at that time, who went on to become a writer at Brooklyn nine nine other Girls as well as co-creator of Love, believes that McInnes, to this day, may be “trapped in trauma” by what happened. “I don’t think he has ever recovered from that humiliation,” he insisted. “You lose your best friend and your job, that’s like your whole fucking personality, and you just had a baby, like boom! Three things that change life at the same time [stretch of time]. “(” They didn’t fire me, “McInnes clarified.” We split up because I wanted to stay on the offensive and they wanted to get serious. “)
Following McInnes’ departure (the company completed its separation agreement with him in 2008), Vice began to experience phenomenal growth. By then, the company had turned to online video, which would become one of the main sources of its success. Over time, Vice Media, led by Smith and serving a lucrative millennial audience, would launch new digital video platforms and expand into movies, music and news, joining forces with partners such as MTV, HBO, Showtime and Snap Inc, while attracting Investors ranging from 21st Century Fox to Disney and George Soros. The office environment, however, was marred by allegations of sexual misconduct and bullying behavior, as well as outright sexism. (Two years ago, the company agreed to a payment of $ 1.87 million to female employees who had been compensated less than their male counterparts. Now a leadership team made up of women is in charge, and women now represent more than half of Vice Media’s global workforce.)
McInnes’ deepening radicalism can be traced online in a weekly column he wrote from 2008 to 2017 in Taki’s Magazine, the web magazine that sometimes encourages the far right and published by Greek journalist and socialite Taki Theodoracopulos, co-founder of The American Conservative. Sample titles: “The Myth of White Terrorism”, “Riots: The Best” and “What’s Wrong with Blackface?” McInnes was recruited to write there by Richard Spencer, who has since become one of the most vilified anti-Semites in the country. “People change and movements evolve,” McInnes told me in an email. “Richard Spencer said ‘Hail Trump’ at that conference and it all shot off a Nazi cliff…. Spencer was a great guy. He got me my job at Takimag in 2008 after I left Vice. Back then, he was just a paleoconservative who was obsessed with the founding fathers. Today’s Spencer has nothing to do with the guy I met 10 years ago. “
For his part, today’s McInnes describes his position as “basic dad politics.” He sent me a list describing his views, saying, “They are the same views as any rational person.” It included his thoughts on such topics as “Racism is not a thing,” “America was not built on slavery” and “Gay marriage is a scam.” Their views were openly Islamophobic, transphobic, anti-feminist, and discriminatory towards a variety of groups. One across the line: your underlying concern for other people’s bodies, identities, and personal realities or decisions. When I asked him why he insisted on that topic, he deviated, as usual: “The Proud Boys are unique Americans in the sense that they avoid identity politics.” But as the SPLC describes it, “McInnes plays a deceptive rhetorical game: he claims he rejects white nationalism while defending a whitewashed version of popular white nationalist tropes.”
McInnes is someone who apparently concluded long ago that the privilege of white men was in jeopardy. When 9/11 rolled around, believing his reality was literally under attack, he had embraced the notion that conservatism was essentially about maintaining the status quo for those in power – that is, white men like him. By 2016, when founding the Proud Boys, he tried to turn his ideologies into political action. Beyond that, McInnes’ general philosophy seemed to be that free speech included hate speech. “When you hate someone,” as he once said, “it is because you recognize something about yourself that you hate.”