This year on Reveal, we’ve dug into issues that affect people’s lives across the country. We told stories about worker abuse, toxic schools, women’s sports and private prisons. So we decided to round out this season with something different: This hour, we look back at stories you, our listeners, told us were the most memorable.

One of the most popular episodes from 2016 you’ll hear is “Russia’s new scapegoats.” And understanding what’s going on in Russia has become more relevant now that the FBI and CIA agree the country interfered with the U.S. election to help Donald Trump win the White House.

There are other connections: Since the election, white supremacists have come forward praising both Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. They say one reason they like Putin is because he’s an aggressive protector of traditional Christian values.  

Putin never has promoted white supremacy, but he has targeted minority groups, including the LGBT community. Many people who know Putin say he’s not homophobic, but he’s used an anti-gay agenda to manipulate the Russian public and suppress political dissent.

But we don’t need to go halfway around the world to find intolerance – we can find it in our own backyard.

By far, the one story that listeners found most memorable was an interview our host Al Letson did the day after Election Day. It was with the man who coined the term “alt-right,” Richard Spencer. On the broadcast that week, we had time to play only part of the conversation, but because so many of you asked for it, this time, we’ll play the whole thing.

From everyone at The Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX, we thank you for listening this year, and stay tuned – we’ve got more stories to reveal in the new year.


  • Explore: Reveal’s most memorable moments – according to you
  • More: Our staff picks five (other) must-listen podcasts


Support for Reveal is provided by The Reva and David Logan Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and Mary and Steven Swig.

  • Camerado / Lightning, “True Game (Reveal show theme)” from “n/a” (Cut-Off Man Records)
  • Sandy Bull, “Memphis, Tennessee” from “Inventions” (Vanguard)
  • Jim Briggs, “Man of Action” (Cut-Off Man Records)
  • Jim Briggs, “It’s Set in Motion” (Cut-Off Man Records)
  • Jim Briggs, “Man of Action (big beat version)” (Cut-Off Man Records)
  • United States Marine Band, “Semper Fidelis” from “Semper Fidelis: The Music of John Philip Sousa” (Altissimo!)
  • Jim Briggs, “No Exit, no return” (Cut-Off Man Records)
  • Jim Briggs, “No Exit, no return (soli version)” (Cut-Off Man Records)
  • Jim Briggs, “Corner of Restless and West” (Cut-Off Man Records)
  • Sandy Bull, “Last Date” from “Demolition Derby” (Vanguard)
  • Jim Briggs, “Spook Vibes” (Cut-Off Man Records)
  • Eric Hopper and Jim Briggs, “April 11, 2009, set 1 [in a silent haze]” from “Improvisations” (Cut-Off Man Records)
  • Creedence Clearwater Revival, “Run Through The Jungle” from “Cosmo’s Factory” (Fantasy)
  • Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, “Bellbottoms (Live)” from “Live on WFMU’s Cherry Blossom Clinic 10/27/12” (WFMU)
  • Jim Briggs, “Loud and Secret” (Cut-Off Man Records)
  • Yo La Tengo, “Nuclear War (version 2)” from “Nuclear War EP” (Matador)
  • Jim Briggs, “Spook Vibes” (Cut-Off Man Records)
  • Eric Hopper and Jim Briggs, “Deep Slow Dive Into oblivion” (Cut-Off Man Records)
  • Jim Briggs, “Maybe I Can Convince Them” (Cut-Off Man Records)
  • Jim Briggs, “Man of Action” (Cut-Off Man Records)
  • Jim Briggs, “It’s Set in Motion” (Cut-Off Man Records)
  • Jim Briggs, “Ladies and Gentlemen, It’s Happening” (Cut-Off Man Records)
  • Steve Gunn, “Milly’s Garden” from “Way Out Weather” (Paradise of Bachelors)
  • Jim Briggs, “Man of Anticipation” (Cut-Off Man Records)
  • Jim Briggs, “It’s Set in Motion (lite version)” (Cut-Off Man Records)
  • Jim Briggs, “Corner of Restless and West” (Cut-Off Man Records)
  • Jim Briggs, “Ladies and Gentlemen, It’s Happening” (Cut-Off Man Records)
  • Jim Briggs, “Corner of Restless and West” (Cut-Off Man Records)
  • Jim Briggs, “It’s Set in Motion” (Cut-Off Man Records)
  • Jim Briggs, “Ladies and Gentlemen, It’s Happening” (Cut-Off Man Records)


Reveal transcripts are produced by a third-party transcription service and may contain errors. Please be aware that the official record for Reveal’s radio stories is the audio.

 Section 1 of 5          [00:00:00 – 00:10:04]
(NOTE: speaker names may be different in each section)


Al Letson:From the Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX, this is Reveal. I’m Al Letson. So it’s that time of the year when we tend to look back at the year that was, and for many people, 2016 was the type of year that could not be gone quick enough, but we’re there. It’s the end, and here at Reveal, we’re beginning to reflect on all the issues we’ve covered. Now we’ve done stories from workers abuse, to toxic schools, from women’s sports to private prisons. Yeah, I know, it’s not exactly a fun group of episodes, but we do serious journalism, and that’s what you come here for, right? We dig into topics that affect people’s lives, and we decided to round out this season with something a little different. We asked you, our listeners, to tell us about your picks for the best stories from this year. [Brittany 00:00:50] Jones wrote that she loved this episode entitled Who’s Getting Rich off Your Student Debt?



Speaker 2:


They’ve literally reversed the whole idea of helping students and turned it into a business right underneath all of our noses without anyone even really realizing, “Wow, here’s people making a lot of money off of this.”


Al Letson:[Thomas 00:01:10] liked our sonic tribute to the victims of the Pulse Night Club shooting in Orlando. Ryan was listening to our podcast on a cross country trip. He couldn’t get out of the car to set up his tent because he had to hear how our story on the daycare system in Alabama would end.





With the exemptions, she could open up basically anywhere, and be okay with it. The law is unfortunate. It does not protect the kids.


Al Letson:But one of the most popular episodes this year was Russia’s New Scapegoats. Understanding what’s going on in Russia has become more important since the FBI and the CIA accused Russia of interfering with the US election to help Donald Trump win the White House, and there are other connections. Since the election, white supremacists have come forward praising both Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. They say one reason they like Putin is because he’s an aggressive protector of traditional Christian values.


[00:02:30]Now, Putin has never promoted white supremacy, but he has targeted minority groups including the LGBT community. Many people who know Putin say he’s not a homophobe, but he’s used an anti-gay agenda to manipulate the Russian public and suppress political dissent. We investigated how that played out in a show that ran earlier this year, starting with the story of Lyosha Gorshkov. He told me that by the summer of 2014, life in Russia had become impossible for him.


Lyosha Gorshkov:Every single day, it was like, I don’t know, prison, and I spent the last six months in Russia in the fear that I will be put in jail, I will be killed, I will be beat.


Al Letson:He was so afraid for his life that he avoided going home to his apartment, and instead stayed with a friend, but he was still in danger. He felt he had no choice but to leave.



Lyosha Gorshkov:


And I couldn’t tell anybody. I couldn’t tell my mom. I couldn’t tell my close friends, and it was undescribable, and I just bought tickets, got a flight, and got here in the United States.


Al Letson:Lyosha wasn’t a fugitive. He hadn’t committed a crime. There wasn’t a loan shark hunting him down for money.



Lyosha Gorshkov:


Actually, I’m here because I escaped from my country because I was persecuted as a gay and humiliated, and it was only one chance to get out of there.


Al Letson:So can you describe for me, because I think most Americans don’t really know or understand what’s happening in Russia right now, so can you describe for me the daily reality for gay and lesbian people in Russia?


Lyosha Gorshkov:Sure. It’s a very complicated question because by the constitution, Russia is a very democratic country, but in reality, you will face a lot of difficulties because now right-wing activists, different groups of people calling themselves “traditionalists” rise up, and if you are gay, lesbian, especially transgender, you will be not only beaten, but you will be killed, and government keeps targeting LGBT population because it’s easiest target.



Al Letson:


And it’s been just over the past few years that the gay community has become a target in Russia. Now, that’s not to say homophobia and gay bashing didn’t exist before. They did, but things for the LGBT community had been gradually getting easier. In the years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russian society was steadily becoming more accepting, more open. All that changed when a series of laws were passed that made gay and lesbian Russians outsiders in their own country. For Lyosha, it meant the end of a successful career.



Lyosha Gorshkov:


I was a professor at the university for the last 13 years, and I was an open gay, and in 2015, I became a deputy dean of student affairs, so because I became a deputy dean, I became a target for Federal Security Service.


Al Letson:The Federal Security Service is the modern version of the KGB. It’s the main security agency in the country, and there was an agent now working at the university as a security advisor. One day, he called Lyosha into his office.



Lyosha Gorshkov:


I came over, and he shut the door, and started to engage me, try to engage me in some activities, you know?


Al Letson:He wanted Lyosha to tell him the names of any communists or homosexuals he knew. The agent said they were a threat to the nation, but it didn’t stop there.


Lyosha Gorshkov:He would follow me every single week, calling me, looking for me at the university, and I realized that he’s going to catch me. He’s going to do something to kick me from the system.



Al Letson:


And not long afterwards, it happened. A bogus article about Lyosha and a colleague circulated on social media at the university.


Lyosha Gorshkov:And it said that those people tried to promote sodomy, literally, and you have to fire them, and it was a scandalous article, and I realized, “This is time. I have to do something,” and it was a very tough experience.



Al Letson:


What does that feel like to be a part of a group of people that basically the government ignores at best, and at worst, encourages that kind of violence against?


Lyosha Gorshkov:You know, I’ve got some ambiguous feelings about this because from the one side, it’s fear. It’s a fear, of course. It’s very dangerous, and you’re always under some kind of feeling that you could be the next, but from the other hand, it gives you strength. It separates you from the majority, and you understand that you have to fight, so basically, I’ve got tough skin because of my identity.



Al Letson:


These days, Lyosha lives in New York and is seeking asylum in the US. He’s the coordinator for RUSA LGBT, an American organization that helps people like him, who have fled Russia and neighboring countries out of fear. In a typical week, he says he has three new arrivals.


[00:07:30]So how did things get so bad for the LGBT community in Russia? That’s what we wanted to find out. So we teamed up with Coda Story, an online news organization that does in-depth crisis reporting. We focused on St. Petersburg, which has become the epicenter of homophobia in Russia. What you’re about to hear is disturbing, but we feel that it’s the only way to truly understand what’s happening inside of Russia. Here’s reporter Amy MacKinnon.



Amy MacKinnon:


My tickets were booked and I was packing my bag when I received a message from a friend in Saint Petersburg. A journalist, Dmitry Tsilikin, had been murdered. Russia can be a dangerous place for journalists. Over the years, dozens have been killed for getting on the wrong side of corrupt politicians and gang bosses, but this explanation just didn’t fit for Dmitry. He was an art supporter, he reviewed the city’s ballet and opera. Dmitry’s friends and local media believe that Dmitry was killed because he was gay. When I arrive in Saint Petersburg I seek out Dmitry’s friends and colleagues to find out more about what happened. Tatyana Moskvina was best friends with Dmitry since college. When I meet her at her home, she is visibly still in shock.





When I try and imagine that our neat, intelligent Dmitry was killed with a knife in the tidy apartment where I have been. He cleaned it twice a week. Everything had its place, books, CDs. A vase of flowers was carefully placed on the windowsill. I cannot imagine that apartment covered in blood.



Amy MacKinnon:


Police believe Dmitry met his killer on an online dating site and invited the man to his apartment. Homophobic vigilantes have been known to prowl these sites, luring gay men and women out on dates only to humiliate, attack, or even kill them. When the police found Dmitry, he was lying in a pool of blood with multiple stab wounds. His killer had taken his cell phone, his laptop, and house keys, leaving him trapped to bleed to death in his own home.


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Speaker 1:… leaving him trapped, to bleed death, alone in his own home.


By the time I meet Tatiana the police have arrested a 21 year old student, Sergey Kosiyrev, on suspicion of murder. Local media reported that during media questioning he said that his life was “a crusade”, against certain social groups, and that he’d asked to be referred to as “the cleaner”.


Kosiyrev’s lawyer has dismissed these statements as total nonsense. But Tatiana believes the police have got their guy. “The case is closed she tells me with a heavy sigh”.



Speaker 2:


Imagine, all his life Dmitry wrote about art and culture, and he ended up in the crime pages.


Speaker 1:I go to the offices of St. Petersburg Delavoi, where Dmitry worked for years. It’s the cities leading business newspaper, and it is well known for its independent stance. When I meet with Dmitry’s editor another Dmitry, Dmitry Grozny, he blames politicians and state owned media for stirring up this hatred.



Speaker 3:


In Russian now, there is such a concentrated amount of hatred at any given time you can just turn on the TV and watch the news. It’s Orwellian the famine and hate. Well they tell people to hate their neighbors, and unfortunately it’s directed towards gay people.



Speaker 1:


I head to St Isaac square, a busy plaza in the center of the city. It is emblematic of St. Petersburg’s imperial style, and is dominated by Mariinski Palace, built by Czar Nicholas as a gift to his daughter. It’s now home to the St. Petersburg city legislator.


I’m here to meet a member of the assembly, Vitaly Milonov. In 2012, he became the face of homophobia here, when he masterminded the cities infamous gay propaganda law. The law is so vaguely worded and bizarre, that is can be difficult to explain. It’s based on the assumption the LGBT people propagandize to children by supposedly spreading their ideas to them. So law prohibits any public portrayals of LGBT issues in a positive, or even neutral way.


[00:12:00]So that means no articles in magazines, no gay characters on TV, no support for LGBT kids in school, nothing. The St. Petersburg law pave the way for a nationwide ban, one year later. Milonov is also the guy who said that gay athletes could be arrested at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.


[00:12:30]He’s a busy man, but he readily agrees to meet me in his office. While I wait, I chat with some of his staff members, two giggly interns and his assistant Illya. I ask them what they think of their bosses sponsorship of the gay propaganda law.





… like the springs first day, like the sunshine. Homophobia is a beautiful … like a rainbow.


Speaker 1:Just in case you didn’t catch the Illya is comparing homophobia, to Spring’s first day. He said that it is, “a beautiful thing, like a rainbow”.


I get the signal the Milonov is ready, and I am shown to his office. Now before I continue Milonov is known for making controversial statements. So, I’m expecting to hear some of the slurs and hate speech that is infamous for. He shifts uncomfortably in his chair, and scarcely makes eye contact during our interview.


[00:13:30]Why did you feel it was necessary to introduce such a bill?


Milonov:We have to face moral dangers. Moral factors of present world, like homosexual propaganda, which is disgusting, immoral. Disease of modern anti-Christian society.



Speaker 1:


Milonov is a devoutly religious man. Walls of his room are lined with religious icons, and black flag that reads, ” Orthodoxy or Death”, hangs behind his desk. There is no nationwide monitoring of hate crimes committed against LGBT people in Russia. Local and international rights groups, piece together what they can. And both have reported a sharp increase in homophobic and transphobic violence, since the gay propaganda law was passed. Human Rights Watch blames this violence on the anti gay rhetoric coming from politicians and state media.


[00:14:30]I asked Milonov what he makes of this.


Milonov:Human Rights Watch is a cheap piece of (expletive deleted) I’m sorry for my French. We have no serious figures of position of violence against homosexuals. There is quite a big number of criminal cases that are connected with the homosexuals, because many homosexuals at the same time, they love little kids.



Speaker 1:


Do you have any evidence of that?


Milonov:Yeah, sure. Absolutely.


Speaker 1:Where?


Milonov:It’s just a statistics.


Speaker 1:This anti gay myth is standard rhetoric, not just in Russia, but anywhere they are attacking the LGBT community. And in St. Petersburg these kind of statements have inspired violence against LGBT people. The kind of violence that police believe led to the murder to Dmitry Tsilikin Which I ask about next.


[00:15:30]Well if I could give you a very recent example, here in St. Petersburg, I’m sure you heard of the murder of the journalist, Dmitry Tsilikin, who was stabbed in his apartment. And it’s believed this was motivated by the fact that he was gay.




Speaker 1:And the young man you killed him-


Milonov:I know this case.


Speaker 1:– and local media have reported that he was an admirer of you.





This guy. What happened with him? This old faggot got acquainted via the internet with a young guy, and he invited him to his house. Either to rape him, at least the main reason for this invitation was sexual harassment.


Speaker 1:But, that’s not what the police believe at all. They think, that the suspected murderer set up the date with Dmitry with the intention to kill him. My interview with Milonov goes on for a while, and he continues to spout the hate filled propaganda, which has turned this cultured city into the epicenter of the anti gay movement in Russia.


[00:16:30]The next day, I managed to set up and interview with one of the cities most infamous anti-gay vigilantes, Timur Bulatov. Like Dmitry’s suspected killer, he also calls himself. “The cleaner”. Bulatov has not been known to be violent, but he does seek to destroy the livelihoods of LGBT people, by combing through the social media accounts of St. Petersburg teachers, singling out the ones suspects of being gay, and reporting them to their schools. We agree to meet at his office in the district council building. But as I’m in the taxi on my way there he messages me with a different meeting point. This last minute switch makes me nervous.


[00:17:30]We meet in his rented office. A cramped and claustrophobic room. The rest of the building seems to be empty. As I walk in I notice a camera set up on a tripod so he can film whatever happens next. Bulatov’s assistant, a tall man in a roll neck sweat shirt sits in the corner of the room, and fixes a silent stare on us. The feeling that maybe I’ve been setup doesn’t seem so paranoid anymore. Given how many journalists have been attacked, for their reporting here in Russia.


[00:18:00]I asked Bulatov to introduce himself, and he jumps straight to the point.


Bulatov:The fight for the unifying moral issues of traditional family values. For faith. For the Fatherland. For the fight for statehood.


Speaker 1:Bulatov, is deeply proud of his work and boasts about how many teachers he claims to have gotten fired.


Bulatov:At first, it was like 29, but now it is more like 50. Some got with a scandal, went through the courts. The more prudent perverts, who understand their perversion , chose to quit themselves.



Speaker 1:


It’s not actually illegal in Russia to be a teacher if you’re gay, but if a teacher is publicly outed the stigma is so strong that they won’t last long in their position. Bulatov speaks with such a single minded hatred for LGBT people. That at one point he actually breaks out into a sweat. When I ask what he thinks of the attacks on the LGBT people in the city, he says he doesn’t condone violence against homosexuals, but he certainly doesn’t condemn it either.





Well society reacts the way it reacts. Why all this talking about gay people as victims, why are we not talking about the actions of these homosexuals, these lesbians and faggots. What they do to provoke a reaction.



Speaker 1:


Halfway through the interview I notice a handgun sitting on the table next to him. I am too afraid to ask what it’s for. By the time I leave I am so on edge that I head straight to dive bar across the street, and settle my nerves with a shot of vodka


I am glad that the interview is over but, it is not long before I bump into Bulatov again.


[00:20:00]So I am here in St. Petersburg, on the 15th of April it’s actually a day of silence, it’s an international day-


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Amy:15th of April, it’s actually the day of silence. It’s an international day used by LGBT activists in many countries as kind of day of remembrance for people who’ve been killed or harassed or bullied for being gay. Local activists have organized a meeting here in the center of St. Petersburg in front of the train station. Events like this are quite often broken up by skinheads, or by the police, so I’m interested to see how this is going to go. There’s already a very heavy police presence, can see a truck of the omon, which is Russian special forces sitting out front.


[inaudible 00:20:39] who we met yesterday has shown up to disrupt the event. He’s got a broom with a toy rat hanging off it. The toy rat is holding rainbow flags, and he’s walking around telling people watching that these are perverts.


So there’s a group of two dozen or so young activists. I watched them put duct tape over their mouths. It’s a symbolic gesture of silence. And they walked down the city’s main street, Nevsky Prospect. Along the way, I got chatting to [Mark 00:21:07], an activist for a local LGBT group called coming out. Mark’s job today is to document any acts of hate speech or homophobic violence at the demonstration. As a transgender person himself, Mark is at an even greater risk of being harassed or attacked on the street. He tells me that at today’s protest someone has already verbally attacked one of their activists.


[00:21:00]Who was it? Who tried to attack them?



Speaker 2:


Just some guy. He was very young. He was speaking just some government propaganda, like we are orthodox country. We have traditions. You have no place here.


Amy:Does it frighten you?


Speaker 2:No. Not now. I was very frightened before, but then my friend committed suicide because of homophobia. Then I understood that silence will not help anyone and I must speak for myself and for those who cannot speak themselves.





Just moments after we speak, the police show up with a loudspeaker, telling everyone that the protest is illegal. In Russia, to hold any kind of protest or demonstration which involves more than just one person, you have to go to the city to get a special permit.


Speaker 3:[Russian 00:22:26]


Amy:Out of nowhere, the police just rush at the protesters and line them up against the wall. Some of them stand with their mouths still taped up in silence, but others try and reason with the police. And then seemingly at random, seven of the activists are just picked out of the lineup and taken away to police vans parked around the corner.


Speaker 3:[Russian 00:22:47]





The next day, I head down to one of the city’s small LGBT community centers. It’s in the heart of the city but tucked away in a basement, unmarked. You’d never guess it was here.


I’m greeted by a veteran of the city’s LGBT activism movement, [Alexei 00:23:09]. He’s asked that we don’t use his last name, out of fear that he could be targeted. It’s a humble space, three rooms and hardly any furniture, but despite their tiny budget, they’ve done what they can to make it cozy. A number of young activists from the center were arrested at yesterday’s demonstration. They were charged $200 each for participating in an unsanctioned protest. That’s a small fortune in a country where the national minimum wage is just $109 per month. They’ve gathered here tonight to discuss what happened yesterday. They ask for privacy, so I step into the next room to have a chat with Alexei.





It’s very important to us to protect the right to be who we are. As for me, I have got so much support. I’m ready to help to the people around in return.





It’s been a long week in St. Petersburg, and I am exhausted by all the hatred that I have seen. But when I ask Alexei if he has hope for the future, he says he does.


Alexei:Hope? I do. I do.


Amy:Despite everything that’s going on, he speaks with such determination. Such optimism, that his voice begins to crack.


Alexei:We are at risk. But my optimism helps me to believe that every single [inaudible 00:24:40] Sooner or later. Not now, not in a year, not in three years, but in twenty years, everything will be fine. I’m sure.





That report was from Amy MacKinnon of Coda Story. The crackdown on the LGBT community in St. Petersburg became a blueprint for Vladimir Putin’s national anti-gay agenda, but we don’t need to go halfway around the world to find that kind of intolerance. We can find it in our own backyard.





The ideal of a white ethnic state, and it is an ideal, is something that I think we should think about in the sense of what could come after America. It’s kind of like a grand goal.


Al:That’s next on Reveal, from the Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX.


Julia:Hey there. [Julia B. Chan 00:25:43] here. We heard from a lot of you about your favorite Reveal stories and episodes. Although we weren’t able to fit them all in this final episode of the year, I made a list for you, complete with your comments, online. Head over to to check out the stories that listeners like you said stood out from the crowd, and why. Again, that’s





From the Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX, this is Reveal. I’m Al Letson. This week we’re playing some of the stories that you, our listeners, told us were your favorites. By far, the one story that was mentioned more than any other was the interview I did the night after election day, with the man who coined the term “Alt right,” Richard Spencer. On the broadcast that week, we only had time to play part of the conversation, but made the full interview available on our podcast. Because so many of you asked for it, this time we’ll play you the whole thing.


[00:26:30]When I spoke with Richard he was both thrilled and surprised that Donald Trump won. A lot of people were, but, Spencer’s different. He’s a white nationalist. He heads a small group called the National Policy Institute. Spencer sees Trump’s election as the first solid steps towards a new, post-America, whites only nation. Might not happen in his lifetime, he says, but he can start to lay down the groundwork now that Trump has won.


[00:27:00]So, Richard, it’s the day after Donald Trump won the election. I think so many people were surprised. Were you surprised by it?


Richard:I was surprised, and I didn’t believe it, and I’m not sure I believe it even right now. It’s all a little surreal. I thought that he, I thought he had a much better chance than people were giving him credit for. I thought it was a much better chance than say the 5% chance that the Huffington Post or the New York Times gave him. Or even the 25% chance that Nate Silver was giving him. I thought he was gonna bring in new voters, and I also thought that there were a lot of shy Trump voters out there. But, even I couldn’t believe it when it happened. I was with a friend, we were actually at the Trump hotel on election night, and that was a lot of fun. We were just walking around town, we were both kind of like, [inaudible 00:28:09], I’m not sure it’s real. So, it’s been quite a day.





So now your candidate has won. What do you see the future of America being? Because I feel like Trump winning means that all bets are off. Everything that people may have thought was gonna happen the day after, and, from here on after, can be shifted at this one moment in time. So I’m curious, for you, what does the future look like, or what do you hope the future looks like?





Yeah. I think you’re absolutely right. I don’t think this was just an unusual election with an unusual candidate. I think this really was a paradigmatic shift. The new paradigm that Donald Trump brought into the world was identity politics. And, in particular, white identity politics, and this question, which he asked directly, are we a nation or are we not? And, defining his political message, not on conservatism, because Trump is not a conservative in the way that self-described, ideological conservatives understand that term. He does not, his starting point is not freedom and liberty, his starting point is not tax cuts, his starting point is not an aggressive democracy promotion foreign policy in the Middle East. His starting point is nationalism. Are we a nation, are we a people, are we not? And, again, this is something that his critics said, oh, this won’t play, this is too toxic, it’s too awful.





To you, when he says that-


Richard:This will never work. But it worked.


Al:To you when he says, “Are we a nation or not?” Does nation mean specifically white people, because when I hear, “Are we a nation or not?” I hear him say all Americans. That’s what I’m listening for. But does that, is that coded language and it says something different to you?


Richard:Well, obviously there are people of other races who are United States citizens, they’re here. But


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Richard Spencer:Other races who are United States citizens, they’re here, but what really defines the American Nation?


[00:30:30]Is the American Nation just defined as a kind of economic platform for the world? Is the American Nation just purely defined by The Constitution and some legalisms? No. The American Nation is defined by the fact that it is derived from Europe, that European people settled this continent, that European people built the political structures, that European people influenced its architecture, its economy, its art, its way of life, and society, and so on.


America … I agree of course, there are many different people here, but which people truly defined what America is?


Al Letson:Well, I-


Richard Spencer:Obviously, that could change-


Al Letson:Let me respond to that. Let me respond that though, because I would say that every culture that came to America, helped shape America as it is now. It was all the people that were here that created what America is.



Richard Spencer:


That’s certainly true to a certain extent, but I would say that white Americans, European-Americans, in particular Anglo-Saxon American, Anglo-Saxon Protestants were this essential historical people. That they defined it in a way that no other people did. Of course African-Americans have influenced American culture and American identity. Of course Asians have, and so on. But, it really was Anglo-Saxons who truly defined it, who made America what it is, who are indispensable.


[00:31:30]There are other people, other races, in all sorts of different countries, but there has to be that founding people, that indispensable people that really makes the country what it is.


Al Letson:I disagree with you completely, but I’m going to go past that, because-


Richard Spencer:Okay.


Al Letson:I want to get back more to your idea about what the future is going to be. Because, if you see America as a place that was predominantly created by white people, and for white people … Which, I’m not sure if I disagree with the, “For white people.” I would definitely say, if you see that as what America has been, is that where you see it going?



Richard Spencer:


To be honest, that’s not where I have seen it going. Over the course of my lifetime, I’ve experienced something that is quite the opposite of this notion of this America of and for white people. I have experienced a great transformation of the American Nation, and American culture and society. I have certainly experience through immigration, and moved towards multi-multiculturalism, and multiracialism.


[00:33:00]There is, you could say, a moral component to it was well, where we live in a world of white-guilt complex. Where, if a non-while actor is hired for this new movie role, or more non-white applicants apply to this college, or there’s a new non-white CEO of this major corporation. That is thought of, inherently, as a good thing morally speaking. We need more of that. We need less white people in positions of power. We need more non-white people in positions of power. This has been my experience. I’m 38-years-old. I was born in 1978. This has been my experience of America, the arrow has not been pointing towards a country of and for white people.


Al Letson:I guess the point I would make there, is that if you look at the numbers, majority of the power in this country is controlled by white people.



Richard Spencer:




Al Letson:If you look at Hollywood … If you just look at Hollywood right now, majority of the films that are being made star white people. If you look in colleges and look at the admission rates, you see majority of that is white people. I think that what you’re talking about is that the world, or the country is trying to find a balance where everybody gets a seat at the table, where it’s not just so white people get all of this stuff, and everybody else gets left into the corner.


[00:34:30]I hear this argument a lot, where I hear people talk about things like, there’s BET, Black Entertainment Channel, and people wonder like, “Why isn’t there a White Entertainment Channel.” But, every time I cut on the T.V. and look at just any T.V. station, majority of what I see is white. So therefore, there already is a White Entertainment Channel. We don’t need a white caucus in Congress, because most of Congress is white.


Richard Spencer:I think there’s a certain degree of truth to what you’re saying, if we were living, in say 1965. We’re not living in that world anymore. Yes, white people are generally better off than many other people. But again, the question really is, which way is the arrow pointing? All of these institutions are not acting in behalf of white people, they are acting on behalf of non-white people.


[00:35:00]You can talk about this being fair, or what have you, but I will be brutally honest with you, fairness has never been a really great value in my mind. I like greatness, and winning, and dominance, and beauty. Those are values, not really fairness.


Al Letson:So, Donald Trump is your perfect candidate.


Richard Spencer:Yes. Again, I don’t think Donald Trump is me. I don’t think Donald Trump is Alt-Right. I don’t think Donald Trump is an Identitarian, as I would use that term. I think Donal Trump is a kind of first step towards this. He’s the first time that we’ve seen a genuinely, if incomplete, politician who’s fighting for European identity politics in North America. This is the first time we’ve seen it.



Al Letson:


How do you maintain it though? Because the numbers are going against you. Pretty soon, white people are going to be the minority in America, like in the next, what, 40 years?



Richard Spencer:


Yes. By 2042, if nothing else changes, white people will become a minority. Also, the majority of births right now, are actually to non-white people. There is a dramatic transformation taking place.


Now, what is going to happen in that? Are we going to all … In 2042 are we going to all decide, “Oh, well. Race doesn’t mean anything anymore. Identity is meaningless. We’re just all atoms here in the United States, and we all go shopping at the same store, we just have different skin colors”? No, I don’t think that’s what’s going to happen. I think whites are going to be … They’re going to have an amplification of their consciousness, of being white. That this whole process that we’re experiencing is not going to bring about racelessness. It’s going to bring about a new consciousness amongst white people that actually wasn’t there before.



Al Letson:


What happens with that consciousness?


Richard Spencer:It’s not necessarily … It might not be about maintaining an all-white society. I don’t think that I could snap my fingers and we could go back to 1965 before the Major Immigration Act during LBJ, that really dramatically changed the country. I don’t think that. I think the only way forward is through identity politics. The only way forward for my people, for us to survive and thrive, is by having a sense of identity. I don’t know what the future’s going to hold, but we need that.



Al Letson:


Our interview with Richard Spencer will continue when we come back. This is Reveal.



Speaker 3:


Hi listeners, Byard Duncan here, Reveal’s Community Manager. Our staff listens to a lot of podcasts, and I mean a lot. We’ve put together a list of stories that we love this year, from other podcasts and shows. If you’re looking for some recommendations, check out our staffs’ best of list at



Al Letson:


From The Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX, this is Reveal. I’m Al Letson.


This week we’re playing some of our most memorable stories of the year, chosen by you, our listeners. Before the break we heard the first half of an interview I recorded after election day with Richard Spencer, a White-Nationalist. Here’s the rest of the interview.


[00:38:30]Earlier, when you were talking to our producer and reporter, you talked about that you wanted a white-ethnostate. Is that the end goal, the white-ethnostate? Because, I guess I don’t understand how you get to a white-ethnostate if already you’re beginning to lose the numbers.


Richard Spencer:Right. The ideal of a white-ethnostate, and it is and ideal, is something that I think we should think about in the sense of what could come after America. It’s kind of like a grand goal. It’s very similar to, in the 19th century when the left had ideals of communism. It was … Politics is the art of the possible, but philosophy is kind of the art of the impossible, so to speak. They were imagining a new society, and at some point, they brought it into being. A similar thing could be said of Jews in the 19th century, who were imagining Zionism. There’s a Jewish state in the Middle East. That was impossible, that did not exist.



Al Letson:


Richard, respectfully man … Are you saying that America has to end, in order for you ethnostate to happen? Because, if you are trying to have a white-ethnostate, what you’re basically saying is, that you have to forcibly remove people. Because, I got to tell you, I’m African-American and I’m not leaving.


Richard Spencer:This shouldn’t be taken as a cop-out, but the fact is, I don’t know, because I don’t know what history has in store for us. I don’t know how history’s going to unfold. What I do know, is that for my people to survive we have to have a sense of who we are, we have to have a-


 Section 4 of 5          [00:30:00 – 00:40:04]
 Section 5 of 5          [00:40:00 – 00:52:58]
(NOTE: speaker names may be different in each section)


Richard Spencer:To survive, we have to have a sense of who we are. We have to have identity. And we don’t always have it. We don’t have an ethnic racial consciousness. Now in terms of an ethnostate, I don’t know how that will be possible. I mean for Leftists in the 19th century, communism seemed just downright impossible over and over again. But history presents opportunities and it becomes possible. So the ethnostate’s not going to happen next week. It’s most likely not going to happen through Donald Trump. What the ethnostate is, is an ideal, it’s a way of thinking about, we want a new type of society that would actually be a homeland for all white people, all European people. So that would include Slavs. That would include Germans. That would include Latins. It would include people of all ethnicities that we would always have a safe space. We would always have a homeland for us. Very similar to how Jews conceive of Israel.



Al Letson:


Sure. Are you gonna do that in Europe?



Richard Spencer:


Again, I’m not trying to, this is not a cop-out, I don’t know. All I’m saying is that you have to dream it before you can build it. And we have to have this idea in our mind. I don’t know where it’ll happen because I don’t know how history’s going to unfold. All of this stuff might very well not happen in my lifetime. But the thing is, I know that in my lifetime I’m going to have opportunities to fight for the survival of my people and my civilization.


Al Letson:I’ve done some reading on you, researched and watched a couple videos. You’re a handsome guy, man.



Richard Spencer:


Thank you.


Al Letson:And you’re well put together. You’re really smart. I’m actually enjoying having this conversation with you. But, what’s the difference between you and the racists that hung people up from trees? What’s the difference between you and the Klansmen that burned crosses on people’s lawns? What’s the difference between you and the people who don’t look at me, an African American man, as a full human being? What’s the difference? Because you have this great sheen about you and I don’t necessarily agree with your views but this is America and I totally support you being able to have those views. But to me, it just sounds like the same old thing that I’ve heard before in a different packaging.



Richard Spencer:


Well I don’t think it is the same old thing that you’ve heard before. I think you just said that it’s not, that you’re actually intrigued by it. Look, I’m not going to comment about some hypothetical Klansmen or whomever-



Al Letson:


There’s no such thing as a hypothetical Klansman-


Richard Spencer:[crosstalk 00:42:42] need for-


Al Letson:Because the people that I’m talking about exist. They have gone out. They have burned crosses on people’s lawns. They have lynched people. They’ve done horrible, horrible things. They are the first American terrorists. So it’s not hypothetical. I’m not comparing you to this thing that I’m just dreaming up. I’m comparing you to history. And I’m not intrigued by your ideas. I’m saying to you that your ideas sound just like them except you wear a nice suit and you can speak to me directly. And I respect that about you. I respect that you and I can have this conversation. That you’re not wearing a hood. But it’s the same thing. So that’s what I’m asking, what is the difference?


Richard Spencer:I’m sure there is some commonality between these movements of the past and what I’m talking about, but you really have to judge me on my own terms. I’m not those people. And I don’t know in the specifics of what you’re referring to, like I am who I am. And you, if you’re going to treat me with good faith, you have to listen to what I’m saying. Listen to my ideas.


[00:43:30]I think someone who would go down the path of becoming a Klansman or something in 2016, I think those people are very different than I am. It’s a non-starter. I think we need an idea … we need a movement that really resonates with where we are right now.



Al Letson:


Richard, how are you different from them? Because you are talking about a white ethnostate. You are saying that white people don’t have space in this country. And I heard the interview with our producers, and one of the things you said is that you are going to be able to talk to people of color about going along with your white ethnostate. You’ve got a person of color with you right now, talk to me about your white ethnostate.


Richard Spencer:Let’s not talk about the ethnostate, let’s talk about identity. Who are you? If I say that, don’t think about it, just answer. Who are you?



Al Letson:


Sure. I’m an African American male, that has four kids. One of those kids is a white kid. I adopted him. He has no black blood in his body at all. He is the apple of my eye. He’s my 16-year-old boy and I love him to death. I have a child that’s biracial and I have two black kids. So yeah, I’m a black man who has love in his heart for everybody on this planet, including you. So that’s who I am. Who are you?



Richard Spencer:


I’m Richard Spencer. I’m a European person. I’m part of this great story of Europe and our history. I was born in Massachusetts, grew up in Texas. I like mountain biking. What I’m getting at is that, when I ask you that, even despite the fact that you have I guess a white wife perhaps, or a white child, you still answered that, “I’m an African American male.” And that has meaning for you, and I respect that. If you ask you average white person in America, they’re going to probably never get around to talking about their European identity or their heritage. They’re afraid of it. They know it. Everyone’s kind of racially unconscious. They know it in their bones, but they’re not conscious. They don’t want to really talk about it and explore it and think about how that inflects their life.


[00:45:30]So that’s what I want to bring. I respect your identity. I respect that fact that you think about it seriously, that you take it seriously. I want white people to take it seriously.


[00:46:00]In terms of what I was talking about of we’re going to do this together, I think that I want to see an identitarian future. I want to see different peoples, different civilizations having a sense of themselves and finding out ways to live together.


Al Letson:But a white ethnostate is not people living together. What you’re saying to me now is different from what you said before, because what you said before would basically mean that I would live in one state and my son, my white son, would have to live in another state. For me, when we talk about my blackness and me saying that I’m an African American man, it’s true I am proud of my blackness. But I’m not advocating for ethnostate. So I want to respect you as a white man. I see that. I understand that history. I want you to respect me as a black man and see that and understand that history, and then figure out how we move forward together. That’s the difference between me and you is that I want to move forward together and you feel like those fissures that are between us are too big to pass over.



Richard Spencer:


I do respect your identity and I respect you as a black man. But the question I would have to ask is, do you really think that we’re all better together? Do you think that modern America, contemporary America, there’s greater levels of trust and togetherness than we had decades ago? Or that more ethnically homogenous nations have? I don’t think so. And I have to be honest, I think we actually kind of hate each other. And that is a very tragic thing, and that is a very sad thing. And we don’t trust each other. And we can talk about how one day we’re gonna all be holding hands, or we can actually be realistic about this. And we can actually look at the power of human nature and the power of race.



Al Letson:


If that is your worldview then I’m sorry, because like I said, I have white family members that I love. So no, I don’t think that we hate each other. I think that there’s not a nation in this world that doesn’t have problems. But I would say that when you just said like if we could go back X-amount of years, would we be better? No, because I wouldn’t be talking to you right now. I wouldn’t be in the position that I am in right now.


[00:48:00]And I’m sorry, but the mixing pot is already created. You’re talking about going into a stew that’s already been made, spilling it out and picking out each individual ingredient and thinking that you’ll have a whole thing that works again, and you won’t.


Richard Spencer:I think you’re using your own personal experience, and I think you’re being genuine in talking about it, but you’re projecting that onto everyone else’s experience. Look what just happened, I mean, is this an example of class trumps race? Is this an example of us getting together? No, it wasn’t.


[00:48:30]Look, I can get along with non-white people. I do. There are certainly exceptions that prove the rule, but the rule is the most important thing. And that is that when you have two really dramatically different cultures, two dramatically different races, all being forced together, it’s a recipe for turmoil, and distrust, and hatred. And I don’t know of an historical example that contradicts that.



Al Letson:


Listen, you and I could go back and forth nonstop and if you ever want to have a conversation just to hear the other side, or anything, you feel free to call me up because I will talk to you all day. Because I think honestly the only way forward is through, and the way through is that people like you and I actually have conversations.


[00:49:30]As much as I think that you’re dead wrong, and as much as you think that I’m dead wrong, the fact that we’re having the conversation is probably the best benefit that could come out of both sides of it.


So Richard, I appreciate your time. Thanks for talking to us. Like I said man, seriously, if you want to have another conversation … I don’t know how many black people you get to talk to in your life. But if you’d like to have a conversation at any time, feel free to give me a call. And if you’d like to talk to my son, I would love to put you on the phone with him to hear his experience of America.



Richard Spencer:


Interesting. Let’s do it.


Al Letson:We’ll let you know if that conversation ever happens. Richard Spencer is a white nationalist. He has a small think-tank The National Policy Institute.


2016 is definitely a year that I will not soon forget. Not just because of the political unrest that happened and all the stories that we told here at Reveal, but because of you. I mean, you tuned in on your public radio station or on the Podcast and from me and the entire staff of CIR and PRX, I just wanted to say, thank you. It means the world to us that all the work we are doing has found a home in your ears. We promise that next year we are gonna continue to tell stories that matter, that reveal the world around you, and hold the powerful accountable.


[00:50:30]We’d like to thank our friends at the Esquire Classic Podcast from PRX. The show dissects classic Esquire magazine stories and reveals the cultural currents that make them as urgent and timely today as they were when they were first published. Guests include Esquire writers, along with noted authors, comedians and actors who offer unique and personal perspectives on some of the most lasting stories ever published.


[00:51:00]Our show today was produced by Julia B. Chan and edited by David Ritsher. Special thanks to Emily Harris for producing the Richard Spencer interview and our partners at Coda Story for reporting on the anti-gay movement in Russia. Taki Telonidis edited that story with help from producer Katharine Mieszkowski.


[00:51:30]Our sound design team is the wonder twins, my man, J-Breezy, Mr. Jim Briggs and Claire “C-Note” Mullen. Our head of studios, Christa Scharfenberg. Amy Pyle is our editor-in-chief. Susanne Reber is our executive editor, and our executive producer is Kevin Sullivan. Our theme music is by Calmerado, “Lightning.” Support for Reveal is provided by the Reeve and David Logan Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation. Reveal is a co-production of the Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX.


[00:52:00]I’m Al Letson, and remember, there is always more to the story.


 Section 5 of 5          [00:40:00 – 00:52:58]

Julia B. Chan worked at The Center for Investigative Reporting until June, 2017. Julia B. Chan is a producer and the digital editor for Reveal's national public radio program. She’s the voice of Reveal online and manages the production and curation of digital story assets that are sent to more than 200 stations across the country. Previously, Chan helped The Center for Investigative Reporting launch YouTube’s first investigative news channel, The I Files, and led engagement strategies – online and off – for multimedia projects. She oversaw communications, worked to better connect CIR’s work with a bigger audience and developed creative content and collaborations to garner conversation and impact.

Before joining CIR, Chan worked as a Web editor and reporter at the San Francisco Examiner. She managed the newspaper’s digital strategy and orchestrated its first foray into social media and online engagement. A rare San Francisco native, she studied broadcasting at San Francisco State University, focusing on audio production and recording. Chan is based in Reveal's Emeryville, California, office.