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INSIDE ROB RUNDO’S FASCIST PROPAGANDA NETWORK

by JORDAN HOPKINS

EDITOR'S NOTE : Jordan Hopkins (he/him) is an independent journalist reporting on right-wing extremism in eastern Pennsylvania. You can find his work on Twitter @jhop_phl and at itsalienmuse.com. You can tip him for his work on Cashapp at $hopkinsxjordan1. Secure comms at hopkinsjordan@protonmail.com.

A white supremacist propaganda site operated by infamous neo-Nazi Robert Rundo is using his international associations to develop close ties with groups like Patriot Front, signaling a worrying fusion between the tactics and aesthetics of some of the most violent fascists in the modern international movement.

Even before Rundo fled the United States for Eastern Europe, his obsession with branding and aesthetics had already left a deep imprint in the rapidly shifting American fascist movement. His neo-nazi fight club, the “Rise Above Movement'' (RAM), carried out a chaotic campaign of street violence before federal rioting charges put much of the group behind bars in 2017. With RAM basically defunct, Rundo continues his activism through meager online clothing brand sales - and more recently through his offshoot propaganda outlet, Media2Rise. Media2Rise has been utilizing Rundo’s close ties with fascist projects across the world to develop propaganda films, dressing the project up as access journalism. White supremacist groups like the National Justice Party (NJP), Action Zealandia, and most notably Patriot Front, have all benefitted from M2R’s uncritical “coverage.” Led by a coalition of high-ranking Patriot Front members and Rundo associates, M2R makes videos packaged for mainstream media coverage and recruitment. Its influence within the American white supremacist movement showcases the quickly solidifying bonds between the media and militant arms of modern fascism.

Identifiable by his elbow 'Sonnenrad' tattoo, Robert Rundo produces wall graffiti using the iconography of 'Revolt Through Tradition'
Rundo’s obsession with optics and aesthetics has placed him at the forefront of the lifestyle fascism movement in Europe and the US, which relies heavily on online recruitment.

Rundo first discussed the creation of Media2Rise on the white supremacist podcast “Surviving Weimerika” in August of 2020. He pitched M2R as a united media front for the radical right wing, a neo-Nazi media outlet of a style to “counter VICE News”. It would be focused on drawing young, alienated people (and their money) into the movement. From the start, Rundo’s main intention was to provide a source of propaganda video and photography that would feed money into the international fascist movement - and consequently, his own brand.

“We put out tons and tons of photos all the time,” Rundo said on the podcast. “We put out videos and stuff, but we made sure it was through our lens. So when the media talks about us, they have to show us through our photos.”

This media strategy is a continuation of the ‘lifestyle activism’ brand that Rundo explored through RAM, which derived the majority of its revenue through online merchandise sales. While this was effective at distributing iconography and building brand recognition, awareness campaigns aimed at RAM’s online payment providers left Rundo without an income stream. While the Will2Rise store still distributes merchandise through online payment processor USAePay, Media2Rise has pivoted to crowdfunding to sponsor their documentaries—following a larger trend observed in other far-right movements. This revenue strategy incentivizes M2R to distribute their propaganda videos across as much of the far-right ecosystem as possible in order to gain new subscribers and further spreading their genocidal ideology to less radicalized Telegram users. M2R’s focus on militant fascist LARPs is effective at drawing in impressionable people with a fixation on violence, especially young white men. Their ability to drive recruiting through propaganda makes M2R a critical piece of online infrastructure for groups like Patriot Front, allowing them to grow in sophistication and narrativize their own actions.

When Patriot Front executed a surprise “flash” march in Philadelphia the night of July 3, 2021, M2R documented the action for a propaganda film released on their website, which was spread widely on Telegram. The fusion of the two groups seems to have been facilitated in part by Patriot Front lieutenant Graham Jones Whitson, who was photographed at the action in RAM attire and has since been credited on M2R’s website as “production and videography”. Whitson can be seen in many of M2R’s propaganda videos, and also seems to be the owner of “Alfa Style”, the LLC associated with the Will2Rise shop. But the real face of the Media2Rise project is Allen Michael Goff, a violent neo-Nazi who has been involved in Montana’s white supremacist movement since his early teens. Goff’s history of violence against people of color, as well as his ties with Montana’s Creativity Movement, makes his association with RAM and Patriot Front highly concerning. Going by the alias “Lucca Corgiat”, Goff represented Media2Rise at a variety of white supremacist conferences and events over the last year.

A photo of Allen Michael Goff holding a firearm and wearing a shirt with a red and white swastika symbol
Allen Michael Goff, AKA “Lucca Corgiat” has been organizing in the Montana white power movement for nearly a decade.

Continuing their platforming of neo-Nazi groups, Goff and Whitson received press passes from the 2021 American Revolution Convention, sponsored by the pseudo-scientific New Century Foundation think tank. The pair were also present at a summer 2021 event put on by the National Justice Party, an alt-right party founded by Holocaust denier Mike Peinovich. The two groups collaborated further on a video misrepresenting the December 2021 Waukesha, WI car attack as an act of black-on-white terrorism. Later that month Goff and Whitson rejoined Patriot Front on another march in Washington, DC, where they helped facilitate disinformation online in order to misrepresent the size of the march and gain media attention. One of the first videos to appear of the Washington, DC action was posted as the first tweet of an account less than a month old, and quickly gathered hundreds of thousands of views. Later, the account was revealed to have been fabricated by elements of Patriot Front and Media2Rise for the deliberate purpose of controlling the media atmosphere surrounding the DC action. The account bio, which once identified the owner as a journalist and University of Oregon grad, was edited afterwards to feature a link to the Media2Rise website.

As a media operation, Media2Rise often more resembles the social media propaganda tactics of accelerationist networks like Atomwaffen than legitimate news reporting like Vice News. Through exciting editing and exclusive access, M2R draws in curious viewers and presents them with an inner look at extreme right-wing militancy as a participant, mostly through a network of associated Telegram channels. This allows M2R to grow its reach beyond its original circle of RAM and Patriot Front adherents into more mainstream right-wing chats operated by groups like the Proud Boys, the Patriot Party, and White Lives Matter. In this disseminated form it would be unlikely that the casual observer would be aware of the content’s association with a violent Nazi fight club movement.

Using this distribution network, Robert Rundo continues to guide the aesthetics of American fascism from behind the scenes, even as a fugitive from the US government. The picture he chooses to paint is a renewed culture of white militancy, rooted in American traditional values and chauvinistic duty to race and nation. Violence and cultural superiority go hand in hand—a “might-makes-right” mentality that is used to justify the belief that they are the righteous subjugators of all who oppose them.

IMG-DESCRIPTION
In a document titled “Vices” from the most recent Patriot Front leaks, PF leaders painstakingly document and comment on their charges’ habits and addictions.

But this view of the action is purposefully obscured, painstakingly fabricated and deployed by brand-obsessed authoritarians like Rundo and Patriot Front’s Thomas Rousseau to portray their organizations in the best possible light. As recent chat leaks released by Unicorn Riot clearly show, the culture of Patriot Front under Rousseau is more akin to a cult than the brotherhood that M2R’s propaganda portrays. Rundo’s extensively edited videos of uniformed marching lines do nothing to document the absolute authority that Rousseau exercises over his disciples. All planned actions, from graffiti tags to large national marches, must be routed directly through Rousseau. All PF members are forced to stick to a strict physical training and nutrition regimen. If their physical health is unsatisfactory members risk assignment to the “Lifestyle Recovery Program”, where they are pressured to reveal “bad habits” like drug use or pornography in order to be put on a path to “recovery” supervised by Rousseau. These often humiliating exercises foster control and commitment to the cause, further deepening Rousseau’s hold on the group. This is the actual reality of being in Patriot Front - mandatory vandalism, enforced calorie deficits, and an authoritarian leader who wields the power of his cult following to boost his own image. Rundo and M2R have no interest in portraying this aspect of the culture because it does not draw subscribers to their crowdfunding efforts. Besides their intention to drive the aesthetics of modern fascism, Rundo and M2R have a clear financial incentive to lie to as many impressionable fascists as possible.

On March 4, 2022, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reinstated federal rioting charges against RAM members Robert Rundo, Robert Boman, Tyler Laube, and Aaron Eason. The charges, which stem from RAM’s involvement in sparking riots at Berkeley and the Charlottesville Unite the Right rally, were originally dropped on First Amendment grounds. While prosecutors appealed the ruling, Rundo fled the United States to Serbia, where he was repeatedly geolocated interacting with a variety of Eastern European fascist groups. Though he was expelled from the country in 2020 following a Bellingcat investigation that revealed his location, a video accidentally posted and quickly deleted was determined to have been filmed in Belgrade in November of 2021. As of this writing, his current whereabouts are unknown.

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