Kat Timpf on Being a Fox Libertarian, Enduring Rape Fantasies from Trump Supporters, and Getting Water-Bombed by Brooklyn Haters
The Specialists co-host: "'I want to kill you' isn't a threat; I guess that's just what they want to do. I'll defend that as free speech."
Kat Timpf's pinned tweet, dating from Jan. 28, 2015, is: "When I die, instead of a eulogy, I want someone to read things Internet commenters have written about me bc they always have the right idea." On Aug. 15, 2017, Timpf's eulogy-to-be got a hell of a lot longer, after she reacted negatively on Fox News to President Donald Trump's widely panned press conference about Charlottesville.
The resulting tsunami of spelling-challenged #MAGA outrage, inaccurate accusations of leftism, and gross rape/murder fantasies (a fraction of which I was exposed to) made headlines. To which, in signature fashion, the self-described libertarian and co-host of FNC's The Specialists wrote a piece for National Review (where she's a contributor), under the headline, "I'm the Target of Hatred, and I'll Still Defend It as Free Speech."
The 28-year-old Timpf, who is also a regular on Fox's The Greg Gutfeld Show, joined me last Friday when I was guest-hosting Sirius XM Insight's Stand UP! with Pete Dominick. The following is an edited and shortened transcript of our discussion about the Charlottesville controversy, a recent incident in which she was ambushed by a water-hurling protester at a campaign event for Ben Kissel, and what it's like making libertarian arguments on Fox during the Trump presidency.
Matt Welch: What the hell happened this week, Kat?
Timpf: […] I've been really disheartened by the stupidity that's out there. I'd seen that it was out there, but I didn't know that it was this bad. Because of what I said, [now] I love Stalin, I'm an idiot. I've had actual Nazis come after me and talk about how my family should've been ethnically cleansed because we're Polish Catholic. But you know, of course Nazism isn't real!
We're still looking for any of the "fine people" at this rally. We haven't seen any examples of the fine people that were supposedly at this literal Nazi rally. It's just really disgusting that the president said they're fine people, and these people actually just believe whatever he says. The billing was: featuring headliner Richard Spencer, and "end Jewish influence in America." This isn't up for debate whether this was a white supremacist rally or not. I think there are no good people at a white supremacist rally, and apparently that's just a real controversial take. […]
MW: What does it feel like in the building? Because obviously other people on Fox—I'm not going to criticize them—but not every host in the Fox battleship necessarily has agreed with you there.
Kat, for those who aren't familiar with her, self-identifies as a small-l libertarian. Is it all right to say that?
MW: I used to work in the building, too, and I identify myself similarly. It's always fun because one day you're advocating legalizing heroin and people think that you're a crazy person, which Kat literally has done on her program. Then the next day, liberals want to throw water in your face, which we'll talk about in a second, because you want to eliminate about seven or eight different federal government departments. So you're used to being a little bit of an odd duck in the building, but is there any way to characterize the overall feeling in what has just been a bizarre year for a lot of other reasons at Fox? […]
Timpf: Right, it's to the point where if you even have the slightest issue with anything that Trump has said, you're going to get attacked really, really bad. My favorite tweets are the, "I used to like and then you said this," "I used to like you then you suggested that president Trump was not the savior of all of us." It's absolutely ridiculous. You can't have any opinion other than he is my savior and I bow down to him every day….I've blocked or muted almost half of Twitter at this point, but I'll still get emails, just really brutal emails.
When I was watching that press conference, I was at my desk at the time and I started screaming….I actually, admittedly, couldn't control myself, because I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Then you had some guests on the air, they were interviewing people who worked at Fox that we're like, "This was great, he did a great job!" What part of that was a great job? I don't understand. I don't know if this administration has done something to people's brains that needs to be studied by some psychiatrist and dealt with, but people just don't think for themselves.
MW: […] I know that, because I follow you on Twitter and we're buds, that you oftentime like to engage your trolls and have been doing this for a long time, or at least highlight some of the insane things that you have received. Compare that to your normal stream there, and to what degree do you feel what you saw this week represents some sort of core Fox audience. Is that representative, or did you get on some kind of bot in Macedonia that started churning out crap?
Timpf: I have absolutely no way to know; I get death threats all the time. Like, if I say I had a problem with this, that the Donald, Jr., meeting was bad, people would be like, "All right, I'm coming to Fox and I'm going to rip your entrails out." It's like, whoa. I'm an emotional person and I still somehow never had quite the kind of emotional connection to anyone or anything the way that some of these people are emotionally connected to this president that they've never met. I really can't even understand it.
The fact that I am an Antifa is a new thing. I've written so many columns denouncing them, with the Berkeley violence and things like that, but people don't care about that. I literally just said, "There's no good people at a white supremacist rally," and pointed out the fact that Trump waited two days to denounce this and never even called it terrorism. There have been multiple things that he's called terrorism when they're not terrorism, just because he can't help himself. […]
That makes me stupid: I'm a libtard, and I'm an idiot. Very detailed descriptions of sexual violence that people want to commit against me. I'm a disgrace to humanity, I'm a disgrace to my family. They're like, "You didn't denounce the violence on all sides!" Imagine if somebody you loved was murdered and everyone would just be like, "Yes, all murders are bad!" No, you're mad about the current murder….There's a segment of the population that you didn't know exists and it's terrifying.
MW: […] A couple of follow-ups here. You're getting these pretty, I wouldn't say literal threats, they're more figurative; but they're threats. Are you, like your co-host, getting extra protection as a result of this? Does it worry you?
Timpf: No, I've kinda been desensitized to it….I've been getting death threats for so long. They're not threats—I understand the difference between what is legally a threat and what [isn't]. Like, "I want to kill you" isn't a threat; I guess that's just what they want to do. I'll defend that as free speech.
But no, I'm not really afraid. It seems like a lot of these people don't really leave their mother's basement a lot; I don't think they're really going to come get me. It doesn't really scare me, but it scares me for the future of humanity more so.
MW: Tell us about…your incident in which you were assaulted, I would say, although not punched, publicly in New York recently. […]
Timpf: I was at Ben Kissel…I was at his campaign event in Brooklyn—
MW: Ben's a big tall weirdo who is running for borough president as a libertarian guy. He hosts various podcasts and you can seem him on different places.
Timpf: Right. I was just standing there ready to give a speech, and some guy walked up and he started dumping this water on my head, and then I looked at him and he looked at me right in my eyes and splashed it right in my face, then he left. If you watch the security-cam footage, he came right in, he did that, and he left. It was advertised that I would be there so he clearly had plans—that was the whole reason he was there. He wasn't just some drunk dude at a bar that splashed water at me.
I've lived a passionate life. I've had water splashed on me. I've splashed water on others. That wasn't what this was about. It was clearly a targeted assault. And I remember when I was standing there—I was dripping wet, just because I'm libertarian—I was like, I don't even know why in the hell he just did that. I don't know what position it was that he [hated]. I'm sure it's just because I work at Fox News and he assumed I was a Trump supporter. So I've just got people who hate me on all sides. […]
MW: To not talk overly much about Kat's physicality here, but in terms of thinking about the water, Kat's not a big dude.
Timpf: No, I'm a little guy.
MW: Kat's a little guy. When the guy threw water at you, was it a bucket, what was the…
Timpf: It was a little 1.5 liter….He was also about a foot taller than me, but he whipped it directly into my face. My eyes were burning…and I was freaking out that it wasn't just water. My eyes were burning, but I think it was just all the eye makeup I had on or something, honestly.
MW: Maybe it was carbonated.
Timpf: In that moment it was terrifying. And just to think, on the Internet, you could just mute it, turn it off. It's hard to do that, but you can. For it to come out and get you in public is a whole other thing, there's really no escaping it.
MW: I have a caller on the line, if you don't mind taking the call. If you are disrespectful in any way, Bruce from California, I'm going to pour water on your face! Bruce, go ahead.
Bruce: No, I'm not going to be disrespectful to the guest. I'm disrespectful to the network she works for. What do you expect when you work for the Fake News channel? Most of the viewers—I work with a lot of these people—lack critical thinking. All they do is listen to Fox News and the right wing radio. I don't know what you expect from these people. […]
Timpf: No, there are different viewpoints on Fox. Those of us who have them have been getting it for saying things about President Trump, as well as people who are frequent guests on Fox. I think the issue is that these people…a lot of them really do just take as gospel truth anything that President Trump says. Even when he's lied so many times, like that pig blood tweet yesterday. Someone wrote a comment on National Review that was like, in one Tweet, he managed to say something historically false, desecrate a hero, and also talk up war crime. In one tweet! It was absolutely amazing. You can't say anything negative about that, or else you desecrated their great leader.
It's really scary, because these people…it's not even conservatism. What they want is a dictatorship, or they want philosopher-king Donald Trump, and philosopher-king Donald Trump is just the most terrifying thing I've said out loud, but that's what people want.
MW: Bruce, to expand on a little bit and directly answer your question, because I used to be in a pretty similar situation that Kat is now, though I was on Fox Business Network, which has about 1/50th of the viewers [ed note: that's an exaggeration]: Why would I work for Fox News? It's because I'm damn well bloody in the media. Why am I on Pete Dominick's show, whose politics and mine aren't necessarily the same? It's because I like talking about politics and issues, it's fun, and I will go where I'm invited or where they allow me to create programming. That's part of the whole deal, and I enjoy it. I spend more time now on MSNBC than I do in the Fox building—the 47th-50th street/Rockefeller Center metro station, I could tell you everything about that and all the smells of it. But the whole point is to go and to talk and to argue it out. […]
You ask, what do you expect working at Fox? I expect to try to make any place where I am—hopefully without being egocentric about it—better, and to get my viewpoint out there and mix it up a little bit. […]
Timpf: Yeah, I have an audience. That's what important to me.
MW: […] I want to go to another call here. Doughboy from Arkansas. […]
Doughboy: […] First of all Kat, I want to say I love you, thank you greatly. Second of all in respect to Bruce's call…you could say the same thing about the libs. The person who listens to the libs, they listen to the MSNBC, they listen to all the left-wing talk shows. Then you've got those people on the right and that's all they listen to, and they don't know how to talk to each other. They don't know how to communicate. You need to listen to both sides, see where people are coming from so you can have communication with each other and have different points of views, but nobody does that anymore. That's pretty much all I've got to say. […]
Timpf: I love you back Doughboy. I agree—I engage with all sides, I watch all sides. There's people on all sides that refuse to consider…there's people on the left who refuse to consider that anybody but the government can solve any of their problems. If you suggest otherwise, it means you want to brutally murder sick people. There's ridiculousness on all sides of it.
MW: […] For listeners out there, Kat, who aren't familiar with Fox and…may have various kinds of imaginations about how the line is handed down, or how politics is: Give us a reality check of how a crazy libertarian who's on every single day, what the feedback is. How much are people told what they need to say, or what kind of line they need to take, or lack thereof?
Timpf: Nobody's told what they need to say. I think that some people might not be able to handle…I know that if I say anything that goes against President Trump, my Internet life is going to be hell for, I don't know, anywhere from a day to a few months. "You don't support our president!" "Leave the country!" It's like, that's not really going to stop me, and actually, I'm not going to leave the country, unless maybe if I go on vacation. […]
You can say what you want [at Fox], and I do pride myself on being an independent voice on that channel, and on any channel. Because it's not like if I went on MSNBC that everyone would like what I had to say, either.
MW: […] Mindy from Vegas, come on in.
Mindy: Hi. I just wanted to say, first of all, Kat, I think that's just horrible that some guy came up and threw water on you. I don't think they would do that to a guy. I don't think they would have the cojones to do that.
Mindy: Anyways, I was going to ask if you think that the Twitter followers are harder on the women then they are on the men, if they're nastier to the women.
Timpf: Yeah, I absolutely think that they are. I absolutely, absolutely do, because if you're just a guy, it's just like, "You're stupid, you're an idiot." With me it's descriptions of wanting to violently shove things up my butt. […]
Even with the Star Wars comment, there was a lot of emails about wanting to violently, anally rape me with lightsabers that weren't jokes, that were clearly very serious, violent sexual fantasies. Men just don't have to put up with that. Just every little thing about my…I never knew how many things could be potentially wrong with my face and/or body until I was exposed to these kinds of things. I really didn't. […]
MW: All right, Kat Timpf…I hope your next week is even more fun. Are you getting depressed from all this kind of stuff, or are you finding humor in it? Are you getting depressed about the country? Where are you at psychologically, as you hang up the phone with us?
Timpf: I'm the kind of person who always uses humor to deal with anything that's depressing. It is a little sad, just the fact that me making what I think is a very reasonable comment and…now I'm a member or Antifa. It's just, wow.