Wow, it has been an incredible two weeks since I announced the creation of The Informant. The response has been overwhelming. The number of people who have already subscribed has blown away any expectations I had. And I haven't even published the first issue yet. (That's coming on January 6.)
In the meantime, I wanted to share with you a little bit about why I'm launching this new publication, which is dedicated to bringing you original reporting and timely briefings on hate and extremism in America. The short essay below is adapted ever so slightly from a Twitter thread I posted earlier this month.
What I'm hoping is that you might take a moment to share the essay with a few friends and encourage them to subscribe to The Informant. Forward it. Tweet it. Post it on Facebook. I believe the only way we can confront this crisis is together. So I want as many people as possible to have the chance to sign up before the January 6 launch.
If you've already subscribed, THANK YOU. That means the world to me. Subscribing to the newsletter is free and incredibly simple. It's also the single most important thing you can do to support this project right now.
Nick R. Martin
Why The Informant matters
I recently made a major life decision. I quit full-time freelancing to start my own publication, one that's focused on bringing you original reporting and timely briefings on hate and extremism in America today. It’s called The Informant. I’d like to explain why I did this.
I believe we’re at a critical point in the U.S., one that requires dogged, original journalism to confront the forces of hate and extremism that are trying to destroy us.
This isn’t hyperbole. Just a few months ago, a gunman walked into a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, and killed 22 people because of some fucked up belief that white people are being replaced by Latino immigrants. Before that, it was a synagogue in Poway, California. Before that, it was a synagogue in Pittsburgh. Before that, it was a man behind the wheel of a car in Charlottesville, Virginia. And so on.
The perpetrators of these acts aren’t lone wolves, no matter how they’ve been portrayed. Their violence is encouraged and cheered by others online and in real life.
I’ve been covering these movements my entire career. The first time I met a neo-Nazi was when I was in college and working nights at a local newspaper in Arizona. The neo-Nazi’s name was JT Ready.
When I first met Ready, he wasn’t out yet as a neo-Nazi. He was the president of the Young Republicans club at Mesa Community College. So I was a bit surprised when I saw him protesting a visit to the college by President George W. Bush. Why would this young Republican be denouncing a Republican president, I wondered? It turned out Ready believed Bush was soft on immigration. And he was mad as hell about it.
In the years that followed, Ready came out more and more about his racist beliefs. He was eventually seen marching in the streets with the National Socialist Movement, which at the time was the nation’s largest neo-Nazi group. He handed out flyers bearing the initials N.S.M. and calling for landmines to be placed along the border. He would go out to perform armed vigilante “patrols” in the Arizona desert, where he and his pals would detain undocumented immigrants at gunpoint and turn them over to Border Patrol.
A number of years later, I was working in New York at Talking Points Memo when the news broke that Ready had walked into his girlfriend’s house and murdered her and three other people, including an infant, before killing himself.
Those murders still haunt me. So much so that lately I’ve been requesting public records from every agency I can think of to try to find something about Ready that I might have missed at the time.
In the intervening years, I’ve talked to countless hate leaders as well as people who are fighting the good fight to stop hate and extremism. I’ve read the literature. I’ve tracked the movements. I’ve gotten to know and understand what’s happening in the dark underbelly of America. It’s ugly, but it’s an ugliness we must understand if we want to confront.
But for all I’ve done in this field, I’ve always felt there should be an outlet where this work gets the attention it deserves. The journalism that I and others produce on these topics is often overlooked or, these days, drowned out by the latest Trump tweet. I’ve often thought of creating a publication that’s dedicated solely to coverage of hate and extremism. A publication for independent journalism, free from the constraints of advertisers or big donors.
With The Informant, I think I’ve figured out how to do all that. It’s not going to be easy. And it’s going to take the support of a lot of individuals, just like you, to make it happen. But if you believe, like I do, that we must unite to confront hate and extremism, then I hope you’ll join me by supporting this project.
The single biggest thing you can do today to back The Informant is to subscribe to the newsletter. It’s free and easy to do. If you’ve already signed up, please share this with your friends. And thank you. I’m looking forward to launching this very soon, and I‘m grateful for your support.