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By Roberta Rampton

KOTZEBUE, Alaska (Reuters) — President Barack Obama got a taste of the U.S. Arctic on Wednesday, dropping in to two remote fly-in native villages in a journey the White House hopes will show how climate change is affecting Americans.

Crossing the Arctic Circle, Air Force One flew over Kivalina, pop. 400, a whaling village on a barrier island debating whether to move as melting sea ice raises sea levels.

Obama said Kivalina is a harbinger of hardships other parts of the country could face if global warming goes unchecked.

“I’ve been trying to make the rest of the country more aware of the changing climate — but you’re already living it,” Obama told a crowd jammed into a school gym.

It was the culmination of a three-day adventure in which Obama hiked to a glacier and toured majestic fjords by boat, delighting residents in a vast and sparsely populated state often left off presidential itineraries.

“It’s the best thing I’ve ever seen before: the president, in Kotzebue, my hometown!” said Betty Kingeak, 26, who is a cashier and delivery driver at Little Louie’s restaurant.

Kingeak said she worries climate change could mean her children will not be able to camp, hunt, and fish like she does.

Obama, the first sitting president to cross the Arctic Circle, is pushing to marshal support for an international agreement to reduce carbon emissions.

He also wants to convince Congress to back at least one new heavy ice breaker for the U.S. Coast Guard, a national security priority underscored by a report on Wednesday that Chinese navy ships were in the Bering Sea near Alaska.

‘Uh-Oh’

Earlier on Wednesday, Obama visited Dillingham, a town on Bristol Bay, home to one of the world’s largest sockeye salmon fisheries, where two women gave him a crash course in catching salmon in traditional nets.

“I’ve got to get some gloves so I can handle my fish,” Obama said, donning an orange pair and hoisting a still-flopping silver salmon.

The fish promptly relieved itself on his shoes.

“Uh-oh. What happened there?” he said, laughing as the women explained the fish was spawning.

He tried his hand at Yup’ik native dancing with grade school students before taking his motorcade down the main drag, passing a fishing boat with the hulking head of a recently killed moose.

At the N + N Market, where a large bag of Doritos cost $9.39, Obama talked about the high costs of food in places where almost everything has to be shipped in.

The community was plastered with signs like “Mines and fish don’t co-exist” protesting against the Pebble Mine copper and gold project proposed by Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd.

The Environmental Protection Agency has placed restrictions on the proposed mine, which the company is fighting in court.

“Our view is that if the president is interested in the issue he should try to hear from all perspectives about it, including those closest to Pebble who would like the jobs Pebble may provide,” said Mike Heatwole, a spokesman for Pebble Limited Partnership.

Obama did not address the mine directly, but noted he had taken steps this year to shut off Bristol Bay from oil and gas exploration to protect the fishing industry.

“There are other threats to this environment that we’ve always got to be alert to,” Obama said.

(Additional reporting by Steve Quinn in Juneau, Alaska; Editing by Louise Ireland, Toni Reinhold)

Photo: U.S. President Barack Obama (C) observes traditional salmon preserving with fishermen on the shore of the Nushagak River in Dillingham, Alaska, September 2, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Blake Neff

Twitter screenshot

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

On July 10, CNN's Oliver Darcy reported that Blake Neff, the top writer for Tucker Carlson's prime-time Fox News show, had been anonymously posting racist, misogynistic, homophobic, and other offensive content on an online forum for five years. Neff used racist and homophobic slurs, referred to women in a derogatory manner, and pushed white supremacist content while writing for Carlson's show. Neff resigned after CNN contacted him for comment.

As Darcy reported, in an interview with the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine, Neff claimed anything Carlson read during his show was initially drafted by him. Darcy also found instances where there was "some overlap between the forum and the show," as sometimes the "material Neff encountered on the forum found its way on to Carlson's show."

During a 2018 appearance on Fox's The Five to promote his book Ship of Fools, Carlson mentioned Neff by name, calling him a "wonderful writer." Carlson also included Neff in the acknowledgments of the book.


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Before joining Fox News, Neff worked at The Daily Caller, a conservative news outlet that Carlson co-founded. The outlet has published a number of white supremacists, anti-Semites, and bigots.


Carlson has a long history of promoting white supremacist content on his show. His show has featured many guests who have connections to white supremacy and far-right extremism. Carlson has regularly been praised by Neo-Nazis and various far-right extremist figures, and he's been a hero on many white supremacist podcasts. Users of the extremist online message boards 4chan and 8chan have repeatedly praised Carlson.

The manifesto released by the gunman who killed 20 people in El Paso, Texas, in 2019 was strewn with content that echoed talking points from Carlson's show. Days after the shooting, Carlson declared that calling white supremacy a serious issue is a "hoax" as it is "actually not a real problem in America."

Carlson has been hemorrhaging advertisers following his racist coverage of the Black Lives Matters movement and the recent protests against police brutality. Now that we know his top writer was using content from white supremacist online message boards for Carlson's show, it is more imperative than ever that advertisers distance their brands away from this toxicity.