Back in 2010, some blogger wanted to vent about something. “Small towns like the one I’m from in Texas have a fat girl problem. The scent of cheap perfume, sweat, grease … forms a troposphere-like force field surrounding the town that I call ‘that fat girl smell,'” wrote the blogger. At the end of another post, this same fellow concluded, “When given equal opportunity women don’t have the tools to perform as well in business as men.”
That’s certainly not the most hateful stuff on the Internet, if only because there’s a lot of competition in this dubious category. What makes it noteworthy, however, is that it’s part of the oeuvre that preceded the blogger’s hiring at Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller, starting in 2014.
Also: The blogger, Chuck Ross, is now renouncing those words and many others. “A lot of the stuff I wrote on my blog and in comments sections on other websites were hare-brained responses to stupid arguments taking place within the tiny community of bloggers I knew at the time,” notes the 36-year-old Ross in a written statement to the Erik Wemple Blog. “I wrote a lot of stuff that I didn’t believe, but I’d write about it for the sake of argument, and sometimes to be provocative or to piss off other bloggers.”
“I’ve matured immeasurably since then, and I regret that I put these ill-formed thoughts out into the public domain.”
The Daily Caller launched in 2010 under the editorial leadership of Tucker Carlson, who showed little compunction about posting content that objectifies women. Race, too, has been a problematic coverage area.
Such proclivities may explain why the Daily Caller first took a liking to Ross, who once wrote on politics, culture, society and other topics for a blog named “Gucci Little Piggy,” an apparent reference to a lyric from the rock band Radiohead. From this platform, Ross came up with some theories. Like this one, in a 2010 post:
Black people walk slow – everywhere. This is especially puzzling since they tend to run so fast. Blacks meander through cross walks in traffic. They jaywalk in front of oncoming vehicles. They do the “Dougie” on two-way streets. Don’t get stuck behind them in a crowded mall or in line somewhere; they’ll walk slow just to go against the grain or force you (white person) to swerve around them. Inevitably, they’ll make fun of you for being a goofy, neurotic white person.
Those racist thoughts no longer appear on Gucci Little Piggy. The link to the post — titled “Black Passive-Aggression” — no longer works. That’s because Ross eliminated that post from his site, which he shut down in 2014, less than a year after his hiring at the Daily Caller. Many of his posts, accordingly, survive only as block-quoted references on other sites, as well as on archived pages. “I shut it down completely,” Ross tells this blog. The remaining digital trail shows that in January 2010, for instance, he springboarded off of an essay by a social psychologist regarding genetics and behavioral differences among groups:
The question becomes, if each one of these groups is acting in accordance with their “nature”, how do we go about doling out justice or incorporating every group into the social fold? I touched on the question previously. As an example, if blacks have higher levels of testosterone and are more predisposed towards violent and aggressive behavior, “intertribal” competition, and work-aversion – antisocial behavior in today’s Western world – is it fair to “punish” them using white Western legal and social proscriptions? In these cases, legal codes and social norms that worked well for white Westerners may not work so well for blacks of African descent or people of other ethnicities and races who have had much less time to co-evolve within “our” society’s proscriptions.
Let’s use blacks – especially African Americans – as an example. Blacks’ higher testosterone levels lead to increased aggression which in today’s confined society inevitably leads to increased violence and crime. In fact, African-Americans’ ancestors – slaves – were bred for high testosterone levels. A properly implemented penal code would account for the difference in nature to curb the problem. Laws and punishments that seek to reprimand outlying behavior on the “normal” (white) distribution of lawfullness may not fit the distribution of lawfullness for blacks.
Obviously, the U.S.’s penal code has led to blowback on the black community. A never-ending cycle of criminality and incarceration of blacks is one of the reasons for their low socio-economic status, low education levels, and higher crime. While individuals are responsible for their actions on the micro level, systematic incongruency will lead to higher incarceration rates on the aggregate. It’s nice to think that an individual will behave in accordance with the law, but its a pipe dream that a whole group will act against their nature to live by the letter of the law.
Those passages summarize the racial ideology of Ross’s blog, which toggled back and forth between high-minded racial stereotyping and low-minded racial stereotyping. In March 2013, he alighted on a paper regarding SAT performance, family income and race written by a team including Ezekiel Dixon-Román, a University of Pennsylvania professor. In preparing his post on the study, Ross asked Dixon-Román to respond to a passage from the controversial 1994 book “The Bell Curve” stating that “socioeconomic status is also a result of cognitive ability.”
In his email to Dixon-Román, Ross disclosed his conclusions on why SAT scores vary so widely by race. “I’ll tell you up front that I read the paper critically and with a bias towards biological explanations for test score differences,” wrote Ross in the email, which was shared with this blog by Dixon-Román. The sociologist declined to engage with Ross on matters of “IQ or genetic heritability.” Any explanation of disparate SAT results between races, Dixon-Román wrote to this blog, must take account of many conditions including neighborhood, the “violent effects of racism and oppression,” test-coaching and so on. “None of which would support a eugenics perspective on race and ‘cognitive ability’. Unfortunately, this blogger’s conveniently biased reading of the article amounts to yet another instantiation of the narrative production of white supremacy, even when it takes ‘juking the stats,'” notes Dixon-Román.
The author of Gucci Little Piggy more succinctly summed up his view of black competency in a comment at the foot of a 2012 blog post celebrating the feats of the Tuskegee Airmen, who made history as the first African American military aviators in the United States. In response to an essay noting that the Tuskegee aviators were expected to fail but instead chalked up grand achievements, Ross wrote, “we’ve come a long way. the argument was once that ‘blacks are inferior to whites’, now we understand that ‘black are *on average* inferior to whites’.”
Here, a little twist enters the picture. That comment on the Tuskegee post is signed “Chuck Rudd,” with a link that reaches back to the “Gucci Little Piggy” site:
“Chuck Rudd” appears to have been a nom de plume that Ross used at the time. One “Chuck Rudd” is featured as a “contributor” to the Daily Caller in an April 2012 piece on coverage of the Trayvon Martin killing. The 2012 post on the Martin case includes a bio tag: “Chuck Rudd holds a Master’s degree in Economics from Wichita State University. He has written for various online publications including The Good Men Project. He operates the blog Gucci Little Piggy.”
Interviews with former Daily Caller staffers yielded little insight into how Ross acceded to the Daily Caller. The site’s current editor in chief, Geoffrey Ingersoll, tells the Erik Wemple Blog via email that he was unaware of Ross’s earlier blogging. “Chuck came to us through our normal recruiting process,” writes Ingersoll. “Started as a freelancer, proved his ability to produce competent, compelling fact-based journalism and eventually moved up to become a full-time staffer.”
In an extensive written response to questions, Ross declines to contest any of the foregoing. On the comment alleging black inferiority, for example, he tells us, “I do not now and never have believed that black people are inferior to white people. Those are the words I wrote at the time, but I know I didn’t mean them in the way they read in print. I’m not sure what point I was trying to make at the time, but I regret writing it and completely disavow the notion that black people are inferior to white people.” About the one regarding testosterone-addled African Americans, Ross noted that he didn’t remember the context. “I believe I was trying to make some sort of point about society based upon some BS that I picked up somewhere on the Internet and then regurgitated back onto the web,” he writes. “Not to gloss over it, but a lot of the stuff I wrote on my blog and in comments sections were hare-brained responses to stupid arguments taking place within the tiny community of bloggers I knew at the time. I wrote a lot of stuff that I didn’t believe at the time, but I’d write about it for the sake of argument, and sometimes to be provocative or to piss off another blogger.”
And regarding the fat-girl-smell post, Ross has regrets: “I wrote it. It was my failed attempt to be funny. It was rude, offensive and callous,” he indicates via email.
To contextualize his offensive scribblings on race, Ross says that he’s named after a black man named Charles Ross, who is his adopted grandfather. “Two of my aunts are bi-racial, as is my cousin. I would not trade the racial and ethnic diversity in my family for anything,” he notes. That said, he went through a “jarring experience” that would poison his thinking about race: “a few years before I started blogging I was jumped, stomped and kicked by a group of black guys while leaving a night club. I’d never had a cross word with a black person at the time, and definitely did not provoke the attack. The guys beating me said stuff about me being white. My brother was also beaten up under similar circumstances,” he writes. Though Ross says he now realizes he’s a privileged individual, he felt like a victim back then. “I was consumed by my feelings of powerlessness and lack of success in life and expressed them on the Web,” he writes.
Ross didn’t file a police report and believes his brother didn’t either.
“I am assuredly not racist. It’s a cliche — but I have black friends and get along very well with black people, including my family members. Nobody who knows me in real life believes that I have any racist bone in my body.” (See more from Ross at the bottom of this post.)
At his Daily Caller perch, Ross has written about race and gender, including extensive coverage of the Trayvon Martin case and Rolling Stone’s debacle in reporting on rape at the University of Virginia. On a more current note, Ross has distinguished himself with a number of deeply reported stories about the Turkish connections of fired national security adviser Michael Flynn. He broke a story last November, in fact, about the work of Flynn’s consulting firm for a Dutch company with ties to Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan. More on the Turkish beat: Ross exposed a rash of spying on Turkish journalists in the United States and pursued an “Erdogan goon” who kicked a female protester at the Turkish Embassy. Ingersoll, Ross’s current boss, writes via email, “We think Chuck’s tough reporting on Turkey, Fusion GPS and the Trump administration speaks for itself.”
Ross: “I stand by my reporting at The Daily Caller and take pride in my reporting there, even if I am unable to say the same about my past work.”
Too bad Carlson doesn’t practice Ross’s brand of transparency. Though Carlson relinquished his managerial duties at the Daily Caller upon assuming his prime-time anchorship last year, he was fully in charge of the operation when Ross began contributing to the site, and when he was later hired. So there are lots of questions for Carlson, like whether he knew about any of these writings, whether he later became familiar with them, what clips did he use to judge Ross’s qualifications, and his opinion of the “Gucci Little Piggy” oeuvre.
Pressed on these matters, Carlson responded through a Fox News spokeswoman, “Chuck’s excellent reporting for The Daily Caller speaks for itself.”
Chuck Ross’s statement:
Years back, I operated a pseudonymous blog on which I spouted a lot of misguided stupidity about a lot of topics — including issues touching on race and gender.
A lot of the stuff I wrote on my blog and in comments sections on other websites were hare-brained responses to stupid arguments taking place within the tiny community of bloggers I knew at the time. I wrote a lot of stuff that I didn’t believe, but I’d write about it for the sake of argument, and sometimes to be provocative or to piss off other bloggers.
I’ve matured immeasurably since then, and I regret that I put these ill-formed thoughts out into the public domain.
There’s no good excuse for a lot of what I wrote. At this point, I can only try to understand what fueled the anger behind a lot of my writings. I was a waiter at the time with a ton of student debt. My job contributed to the chip on my shoulder that showed itself through some of my writings, as did a couple of negative experiences I had prior to starting the blog. I felt like a nobody as a waiter, though I wanted to be someone that people respected. I discovered that it is quite easy to get attention from people on the Internet by saying bombastic and controversial things.
A bad breakup fueled some of my writings on gender relations. My writings about racial issues were a bit more complicated.
I am named after a black man, Charles Ross, my adopted grandfather. Two of my aunts are bi-racial, as is my cousin. I would not trade the racial and ethnic diversity in my family for anything. But I did have one jarring experience a few years before I started blogging that, though I didn’t realize it at the time, would go on to fuel some some of my writings about race relations.
A few years before I started blogging I was jumped, stomped and kicked by a group of black guys while leaving a night club. I’d never had a cross word with a black person at the time, and definitely did not provoke the attack. The guys beating me said stuff about me being white. My brother was also beaten up under similar circumstances.
Admittedly, this left a bad taste in my mouth, and I used that incident to justify my feelings that I was a victim of some sort. I’m am extremely privileged person, I now know. But at the time, I was consumed by my feelings of powerlessness and lack of success in life and expressed them on the Web.
I am assuredly not racist. It’s a cliche — but I have black friends and get along very well with black people, including my family members. Nobody who knows me in real life believes that I have any racist bone in my body.
My story goes to show how easily a good person can become misguided on the Internet. Looking back, I’m amazed that I fell into a virtual rabbit hole on some of these controversial topics. What started out as a blog sharing stupid work-a-day musings and thoughts on sports and politics turned into something darker. And it happened quickly without me realizing the change. I do not stand by much of it, didn’t really believe a lot of it even at the time and I’m sorry I wrote it. The only positive is that exposing myself to some of these ideas has taught me how wrong they were.
In one small way, I am glad that this is coming out. I’ll admit, it’s something I’ve thought about from time to time. I’ve considered writing an essay on my experiences, but I wasn’t sure if there would be any point. I stand by my reporting at The Daily Caller and take pride in my reporting there, even if I am unable to say the same about my past work.