Metro Weekly

Pulse survivor Brandon Wolf receives death threats following Mike Pence comments

GLAAD is calling on Fox News' Tucker Carlson to denounce threats against Wolf, who has since said he misspoke

Brandon Wolf

The Pulse nightclub shooting survivor who sparked outrage among right-wing activists after he misspoke about Vice President Mike Pence’s past support for conversion therapy is receiving death threats.

When right-wing pundits attacked Wolf after the comments went viral, and he took to Twitter to say he misspoke, saying “concentration camps” instead of “conversion camps.”

Wolf’s comments were subsequently highlighted on Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s nightly TV show Tucker Carlson Tonight, where Carlson attacked Wolf for misspeaking and accused him of hypocrisy for appearing on Joy Reid’s AM Joy on MSNBC after Reid became embroiled in controversy after a series of homophobic and transphobic posts on a decade-old blog she used to write came to light. Reid initially claimed that hackers had added the homophobic posts, but later apologized on air for the offensive language used on the blog.

Appearing on the show where Reid apologized, Wolf said that Reid’s comments were more of a distraction when the focus should be on the anti-LGBTQ actions taken by officials within the Trump administration, whom he called “homophobic psychopaths.”

But Carlson said that Wolf’s comments were a way to “make everything okay” regarding Reid’s past comments. “And Wolf did this by explaining — okay, maybe those comments were offensive, but they are nothing compared to Mike Pence.”

Both Carlson and his guest, gay former journalist Chadwick Moore, went on to highlight what they see as the hypocrisy of the political Left for forgiving Reid while continuing to accuse Pence of holding vehemently anti-LGBTQ views. Moore even referred to criticism of Pence’s past record on LGBTQ rights as “depraved fantasy.”

“I feel very bad for Mike Pence,” Moore said. “He handles these attacks with such grace and such decorum. I really don’t think there’s anything homophobic about Mike Pence.”

Both Pence and his chief spokeswoman, Alyssa Farah, have insisted multiple times, in response to multiple stories, that the Vice President has never supported conversion therapy, dismissing such accusations as “fake news.”

While Pence has never explicitly called for conversion therapy, his congressional campaign website in 2000 did express support for public funding in the Ryan White CARE Act being directed towards organizations “which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.”

Here is where the interpretation is murky: LGBTQ groups note that similar language has been used in the past as a euphemism for gay conversion therapy. But the Vice President and his staff insist that the organizations that he was referring to are those that promote “safe sexual practices” — which, given his past comments disparaging condoms as “poor protection” against STDs — likely refers to those that promote abstinence.

In any case, within minutes of Carlson’s segment, Wolf received numerous tweets from users disparaging him, wishing him to die, or endorsing the idea of concentration camps for LGBTQ people.

The LGBTQ media advocacy organization GLAAD has since accused Carlson of inciting violence against Wolf and criticized him for failing to condemn the death threats.

“[S]ometimes when you’re on national TV, you misspeak. In fact, Brandon Wolf already clarified that he meant to say that Vice President Pence wants to send LGBTQ people to conversion therapy camps on MSNBC, but he misspoke and said concentration,” GLAAD wrote in a blog post. “”Instead of giving Brandon Wolf the benefit of the doubt or the tiniest bit of empathy, Tucker Carlson and Fox News Channel went all in.”

GLAAD also noted that Pence helped in crafting the RNC 2016 platform, which expresses support for “the right of parents to determine the proper medical treatment or therapy for their minor children.”

In a statement provided to TheWrap, which also reported on the controversy, Carlson bristled at the notion, implied by TheWrap’s headline, that he had “attacked a survivor of the Pulse nightclub massacre.”

“Brandon Wolf told MSNBC viewers that if Mike Pence became president, he would put gay people in concentration camps. That is false, and I said so,” he said. “TheWrap’s headline is dishonest. I didn’t ‘attack a survivor of the Pulse nightclub massacre.’ I fact-checked a talking head on Joy Reid’s show who was lying. That’s still allowed, I think.”

GLAAD then responded to Carlson’s statement, tweeting: “You’re missing the point,” and trying to steer the conversation back to the death threats Wolf received from viewers of Carlson’s show.

Wolf has subsequently tried to encourage his Twitter followers to call for a boycott of companies that support Carlson’s show, and has also called on Carlson to denounce the threats and harassment he’s received.

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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