The years Tudor Dixon spent hosting a daily show on conservative television network Real America’s Voice says she prepared her for the job she now aspires to: governor of the state of Michigan.
“I’ve been in the media and in politics in the weeds,” Dixon said recently, “to learn exactly what’s happening with all our federal affairs but also with state affairs.”
Indeed, Dixon has been in the weeds frequently throughout her media career — but in a very different way than she might have intended. And the show, which she described as “pretty standard newscast” during her campaign, was usually anything but.
For two years, Dixon’s daily afternoon show served as a platform for a parade of fringe figures, reinforcing a slew of conspiracy theories about everything from the COVID-19 pandemic to the 2020 election to the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol.
One of Dixon’s regular co-hosts, conservative personality Matt Locke, often filled airtime alongside her with conspiratorial and violent rhetoric.
During a July 2020 segment, Locke spoke of Democrats organizing a “perfect storm” to defeat former President Donald Trump and suggested that COVID-19 and the 2020 George Floyd protests and riots were part of the conspiracy were.
In another segment, starting in June 2020, Locke and Dixon defended the McCloskeys, the St. Louis couple known to point guns at a crowd of protesters who marched past their home.
“These people are lucky they didn’t show up at my house because a lot of them are going to be on the floor,” Locke said. “I would take pictures first and ask questions later.”
After Locke’s Stemwinder, Dixon simply replied, “That’s why so many people say we’re headed for a real civil war in this country.”
In the weeks following Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory, Dixon hosted Angela Stanton King — a former GOP congressional candidate in Georgia who has promoted elements of QAnon. She spoke to Dixon about “praying” that “this election will be overturned” because Joe Biden “showed his true colors” on criminal justice reform. After that, Dixon moved on to the next question.
In June 2020, Dixon hosted anti-abortion activist Abby Johnson, who developed a complex theory on the show that Planned Parenthood plans to profit by providing women with birth control so they have to go to Planned Parenthood for abortions.
“The answer to the abortion problem isn’t actually birth control, it’s self-control,” Johnson told Dixon. “But self-control doesn’t make any money for Planned Parenthood.” Dixon didn’t back down, giving Johnson a chance to elaborate on the theory further.
Also that summer, Dixon hosted New York Republican activist Gavin Wax, who attracted attention in 2018 for writing an essay in defense of the far-right Proud Boys gang, titled “We Are All Proud Boys.” At one point in the interview, Dixon Wax asked if “people like you … need to get involved in government and start turning things around so we can get back the country we’re losing so fast?”
Such comments are inevitable on Real America’s Voice, the bare-bones network that, despite its often substandard production value, has gained popularity with a hardline MAGA audience increasingly dissatisfied with Fox News.
But unlike the network’s quintessential characters, Dixon isn’t just looking for an audience: She wants to be governor of Michigan, one of the nation’s most populous states and one of its most important political battlegrounds. Even in an election year when a bumper crop of figures from the GOP fringe are running for key offices nationwide, few come from the background of Dixon.
In the context of her campaign to impeach Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Dixon’s past as a right-wing media personality has gone largely unexplored. Her involvement with Real America’s Voice — and the fact that she has pointed to it as evidence of her willingness to govern — is significant, said Jared Holt, a researcher at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, an anti-extremism think tank.
“It signals to me that Tudor Dixon sees the governor’s job as something it fundamentally shouldn’t be — a place where you indulge in bizarre conspiracy theories and dump government resources down these rabbit holes,” Holt said.
“It’s not even a Democratic-Republican thing. It’s like coming off a very shaky kind of podcasting operation and thinking that this will instantly prepare you to be governor, there are instant red flags going up all over my brain.”
In response to questions from The Daily Beast, Dixon spokeswoman Sara Broadwater said that “Tudor believes in free speech and ran a program that included a variety of opinions — both Democrat and Republican.”
According to Broadwater, one of the Democrats who appeared on Dixon’s show was Atlanta civil rights activist Robert Patillo.
Dixon’s own views took center stage in the Michigan race as Whitmer argues the former TV host is too extreme for the state. Dixon has said repeatedly that the 2020 election was stolen by Trump. She has maintained her position that abortion should be banned in all cases, including rape or incest, with one exception only to save the mother’s life. And she’s made culture war issues like transgender rights a fundamental part of her campaign.
If public polls and fundraising are any reflection, Dixon’s message doesn’t resonate far beyond a conservative electorate. A recent Detroit News poll found the Republican trailing Whitmer by 18 points with 32 percent support. The governor heavily attacked Dixon. On Thursday, Bridge Michigan, a local news outlet, reported that major GOP donors were “shunning” Dixon’s campaign.
But Dixon’s far-right political sentiment was perfectly at home on the airwaves of Real America’s Voice.
Founded in 2018 by a Colorado media mogul wannabe with a crime record, the burgeoning network started out as a small player, even compared to ramshackle outfits like One America News.
But RAV got its big break in 2019 when it began broadcasting ex-Trump strategist Steve Bannon’s War Room podcast, which eventually became one of the most influential platforms in right-wing media. The network maintains a close relationship with Bannon, ensuring its daily programming reaches approximately eight million viewers via satellite television The Washington Postwhich also reported that the network employs no more than 20 people.
Dixon’s show ran from June 2019 to May 2021, the month she launched her campaign for Michigan governor. Those years, she later said, “gave me access to congressmen and senators and all those political insiders that it takes to do something,” like run for governor.
Regardless, Dixon’s time on the network allowed her to rub shoulders with all sorts of characters on the MAGA right. “A majority of the guests,” Holt said, “are a rotating group of people just as crazy as they are.”
She once interviewed James O’Keefe, who runs conservative sting surgery Project Veritas, and appeared in a panel segment alongside Ben Bergquam, who famously live-logged his hospitalization for COVID-19 after refusing to take the vaccine .
During her time on the network, Dixon gained fans — including Bannon, who said she was doing “a fabulous job” and called her a “fantastic piece of talent.” In her campaign for governor, she continued to be a regular on Bannon’s War Room podcast, which first aired on September 30th.
The current roster of network personalities includes Charlie Kirk, founder of MAGA activism organization Turning Point USA, who is on the network daily, as well as Jack Posobiec, promoter of the unsubstantiated Pizzagate conspiracy theory. Ted Nugent, the rocker who called for the executions of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, also has a nightly show.
Though Dixon’s time on the network is an important resume for her, it wasn’t a big topic of discussion during the campaign and Democrats didn’t dwell too much on her record there.
In response to questions about this story, Whitmer campaign spokeswoman Maeve Coyle said the governor has worked with Republicans on her agenda, while Dixon “has spent her career promoting conspiracy theorists, anti-abortion extremists and vote-resisters because she shares her dangerous agenda”.
Given the development of right-wing media, it’s likely that the GOP will produce more candidates like Dixon, not fewer. Another prominent GOP candidate running in 2022 also had RAV on his resume: Eric Greitens, the scandal-plagued former Missouri governor who attempted a comeback bid for the U.S. Senate this year, but in a GOP primary lost.
“Building an online following and trying to convert it into electoral success is a well-established pattern right now,” Holt said. “But the success rate varies greatly.”
It’s these echo chambers that have bred in many Trump-loving Republicans the belief that any election they don’t win is a rigged one.
Indeed, long before the stealing movement ended, Dixon’s show was a platform for the kind of rhetoric that laid the groundwork for Trump’s effort to overthrow the 2020 election.
“We’re watching a cabal, a group of people working overtime to make sure President Trump isn’t re-elected,” her co-host Matt Locke said in a May 2020 post.
“Why do you think they want absentee ballot papers? Where do you think the coronavirus came from? Why do you think they have fueled our economy?” he asked. “Start looking at it all, Tudor, and I don’t want to go down the conspiracy theory rabbit hole, but I’ve been there. I’ve done it several times.”
https://www.thedailybeast.com/inside-the-loony-maga-media-career-of-top-gop-michigan-governor-pick-tudor-dixon?source=articles&via=rss Inside the insane MAGA media career of Michigan Supreme GOP Governor Pick Tudor Dixon