This summer while the world was falling in love with princess Meghan Markle, the president found his own princess. Her name is Katie Hopkins and she is, while not technically a royal, more or less the British princess of racism and reality television.
Let’s get something straight right at the top: People do use the term “racism” a little too easily these days. But Katie Hopkins isn’t a little racist. She isn’t even mildly racist. She is real fucking racist. Katie Hopkins is so racist that she got fired by a British tabloid.
Do you know how hard it is to be fired by a British tabloid for saying something racist? It’s like shooting the moon with double-decks or getting a 1,600 on your SATs—it’s possible. People do it. But when it happens it’s an event. People stand up and take notice.
So when Katie Hopkins managed to get fired from the Daily Mail for calling African migrants “cockroaches” it was kind of thing. Though maybe . . . if we’re being totally honest here . . . not a surprise?
After all, Hopkins is so racist the Telegraph—Britain’s premiere conservative paper—called her “reality TV’s very own Adolf Hitler.” She’s so racist that when she got fired from her radio show the entire newsroom came together in applause. She called for a “final solution” in dealing with Muslims. She blamed the Tree of Life synagogue shooting on “the Chief Rabbi and his support for mass migration.”
So as I said: Katie Hopkins is real fucking racist.
Katie Hopkins is also—probably by total coincidence—one of Donald Trump’s favorite people to retweet. Right before the El Paso shooting and then later while at his private golf club, Trump retweeted Hopkins. One would have thought Trump might be more self-conscious about retweeting Hopkins after the El Paso massacre, since it was committed by a white nationalist whose manifesto leaned on many of both Trump and Hopkins’s favorite racist tropes. But Hopkins herself was not surprised that the president retweets her. Or, as she told Maggie Haberman in an interview, “I think it’s not a surprise that Trump would retweet my tweets.”
Hopkins recorded this interview in secret—and during the interview denied that she was recording it. And then, later, released the recording thinking that it would embarrass Haberman. It did not, because Maggie Haberman is a stone-cold professional and Katie Hopkins is real fucking racist, QED.
There’s something wonderfully Trumpian about this last little bit: Someone is always taping someone in Trump world. Whether it’s a journalist taping Trump pretending to be a press spokesman named “John Miller” who was calling reporters to tell them how great Trump was. Or Michael Cohen taping Trump telling him how to kill a story about one of his affairs with a Playboy model. Or Trump trying to intimidate Jim Comey by hinting that he might have taped their conversations. Or Omarosa taping everyone. Or the Access Hollywood sound guys. Or . . . well, you get the picture. Secret tapes are just a routine part of this president’s life.
So of course Katie Hopkins would think that a secret tape of her making a fool of herself on the phone with Maggie Haberman would be some kind of trump card.
But why does the president keep retweeting this one random racist who holds no elected office, has been cast out of public life in her native land, and is largely obscure here in America?
Why would the president retweet the Eva Braun of The (British) Apprentice when he is (supposedly) not a white nationalist?
I mean, we’re pretty sure he’s not a racist. After all, he did disavow white supremacy (note: not “white nationalism”) after the El Paso shooting when he got up there and read some teleprompter words and looked like he was being held for ransom. He said the 12 words! “In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy.”
And sure, he did sort of look like a zombie. (Except for the part where he got real excited talking about the death penalty.) And yes, by the standards of American presidents, it was an incredibly lame disavowal.
But it was still better than the last time he was called on to disavow white supremacy and ended up defending it instead.
So, you know, this is improvement? I guess?
Last week the Washington Post ran a piece about how the FBI may be reluctant to pursue white nationalists because there’s a concern that these very fine people make up part of the president’s constituency. And since this president has a long history of going to war against the FBI, maybe this isn’t a smart fight to pick. Dave Gomez, a former FBI supervisor, told the Post,“There’s some reluctance among agents to bring forth an investigation that targets what the president perceives as his base. It’s a no-win situation for the FBI agent or supervisor.” If the FBI thinks these domestic terrorists are the president’s base, imagine what the president must think of them.
At this point it’s now a truism that Donald Trump expresses his real feelings about the world on his Twitter feed. That Twitter Trump is not the same as Teleprompter Trump. That you can see this difference with the naked eye: Teleprompter Trump is slow and sluggish and bored with the material whereas Twitter Trump is emboldened, excited, and energized.
So yes, Teleprompter Trump condemns racism. And that’s great. Or at least, better than the alternative.
But Twitter Trump is the Real Trump. And the Real Trump is still retweeting Katie Hopkins.
Why does he do it? Either because his base likes it. Or he likes it.
Correction, August 12, 2019, 8:48 a.m.: The article originally stated that the Daily Mail was owned by Rupert Murdoch. It is owned by Jonathan Harmsworth.