In the span of about six hours yesterday, The New York Times announced the hiring of Quinn Norton as a tech columnist and then apparently fired her. The Times claims that their decision to “go their separate ways” was guided by “new information,” revealed through a social-media maelstrom, about slurs Norton had used on Twitter and about her friendship with someone called weev. In October, Norton called weev “a terrible person, and an old friend of mine.” The rest of the world calls him a Nazi.
weev’s given name is Andrew Auernheimer. As Luke O’Brien reported for The Atlantic in December, Auernheimer is a white supremacist, Nazi, and internet troll who’s the webmaster for The Daily Stormer, which O’Brien called “the world’s biggest neo-Nazi website.” In August 2017, Auernheimer moved The Daily Stormer to the dark web after Google and GoDaddy refused to host it. Around the same time, Twitter banned several accounts associated with The Daily Stormer. Auernheimer himself was banned from Twitter in December 2016.
Auernheimer got involved with The Daily Stormer in 2014, after he was released from federal prison on identity-theft and hacking charges and living in Europe. Andrew Anglin, who was the focus of O’Brien’s story and who founded The Daily Stormer, said of Auernheimer in 2016, “I don’t know what I would be doing if it wasn’t for him … He’s the one basically holding the whole thing together.”
Besides keeping The Daily Stormer online, Auernheimer’s “hacktivism” has included hijacking printers on college campuses to make them print out swastika-bedecked fliers and leaving a voicemail for a Jewish woman in Montana that called her a “fucking kike whore” and informed her that “this is Trump’s America now.” Auernheimer also set up a crowdfunding campaign for Anglin on a far-right platform so that Anglin could hire a lawyer for a court case brought by that same Montana woman. The trial was recently set for January 2019.
According to O’Brien, Auernheimer was an active user of a private chat server for Stormers, where, among other things, he forbade any members from talking to the police, coordinated a plan to send Nazis to Heather Heyer’s funeral, and wrote:
All I want is to see [Jews] screaming in a pit of suffering on the soil of my homeland before I die … I don’t want wealth. I don’t want power. I just want their daughters tortured to death in front of them and to laugh and spit in their faces while they scream.
In a podcast hosted by Christopher Cantwell in December, Auernheimer blamed Jewish people for the loss of a dot-com home for The Daily Stormer. He said, “If you don’t let us dissent peacefully, then our only option is to murder you. To kill your children. To kill your whole families.”
Last month, Newsweek reported that, despite his vitriol against Jews, Auernheimer is in fact of Jewish descent.
As of December, Auernheimer was living in Transnistria, a Russia-backed breakaway region in Moldova on the border with Ukraine. Last year, Auernheimer claimed that he was moving The Daily Stormer’s forum to “a much beefier server in the Russian Federation.” Although Anglin, the site’s founder, claims that he has no Russian government support, The Daily Stormer has been found to be supported by a network of bots and Twitter accounts with false identities—virtually all of which are inactive between midnight and 6:30 a.m. on Moscow time.
Norton has written for several other news organizations, including this magazine. Her October tweet explained, “Some of my friend (sic) are terrible people, and also my friends.”