FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Katie McHugh’s Expendable Labor

On June 3rd, Katie McHugh, a staple at Breitbart, tweeted:

There would be no deadly terror attacks in the U.K. if Muslims didn’t live there. #LondonBridge

Within 48 hours, Breitbart fired her for said quip.

The firing is much more shocking than the quip. Even people with the most superficial knowledge of our media landscape know that right-wing partisans think, and indeed often say, exactly what Miss McHugh tweeted. The tweet was par for the course over at Breitbart. They have a “muslim immigration” tag brimming with macabre stories of crimes allegedly committed by Europe’s new arrivals. They have equally lurid tags for “black crime” and “illegal immigration” too.

Furthermore, Breitbart is famous for its unwavering support for Donald Trump, who has called for a ban on all Muslim immigration into America — ostensibly to protect us all from terrorism.

The thinking behind Miss McHugh’s tweet is the thinking behind just about everything at Breitbart, and the President they all adore feels the same way.

Even in terms of tweets, the one that ended Miss McHugh’s career was not out-of-bounds in these circles. Remember when, as a candidate, President Trump tweeted out the insane claim that 81% of white murder victims had black killers? Miss McHugh herself has even said considerably more offensive things on twitter than her latest. Just one example:

“British settlers built the USA. “Slaves” built the country much as cows “built” McDonald’s.”

So why the hell did Breitbart fire her now

She was not out of line with Breitbart’s world view or confrontational style. Nor did she say something that their idol Donald Trump would disagree with. It’s impossible to believe that this is the first step in an attempt to revamp Breitbart and turn it into something more respectable like a poor man’s Weekly Standard.

If I had to bet on money on it, I’d guess politics had nothing to do with it. She probably got fired for one of the typical reason millions of regular people get fired from their jobs by their miserly bosses, that is to say, a higher-up decided she cost too much.

She was the homepage editor of Breitbart during its meteoric rise in popularity. Maybe she was demanding a raise because of how much her hard work benefited the entire company. Maybe she got that raise, but then they decided she wasn’t worth it after all. Maybe she was taking too many sick days, or she was using her health insurance too much. After all, right now she’s fundraising to cover medical bills until she can find another job.

It’s pure speculation, but maybe somebody slapped her ass and she complained about it “too much.” That’s not exactly unheard of at rabid right-wing media companies.

Whatever it was that got her fired, it was not the tweet. Vox, and so many other liberal outlets and pundits are out of their minds to suggest “We finally know what counts as “too racist for Breitbart”.” Breitbart as a whole, and Miss McHugh in particular, have regularly been more racist than that tweet, and will continue to be more racist than that tweet. Don’t believe me? Here’s a recent Breitbart headline: “Poland: Refusing to Import Muslims is Only Proven Counter-Terror Method.” The story was published the same day Miss McHugh was fired.

Breitbart is going to be as racist as ever. This “purge” will not change the site’s tone in the slightest, nor will it improve the lives of Muslims.

All this changes is Katie McHugh’s life. She got fired from her job and her life’s problems are now fodder for liberals desperate for the blood the “Russian scandal” never gave them. After being a topdog for as long as she was at Breitbart, transitioning into a new role will be tougher than an ex-pornstar trying to catch a break on an HBO show. Her medical bills may have to wait a while, but in the meantime I’m sure she’s getting plenty of death threats.

She is going to learn the hard way that right-wing populists are just the bourgeoisie in sexy uniforms. There was no reason for her to worry about her job in the slightest when she fired off that tweet. Tweets like that were part of her job. But now that she’s unemployed and national news. Very few folks in the right’s media empire are going to want to associate with her at all now that she’s been so thoroughly tarred. If she gets hired by the Daily Caller or WND in the next few weeks, her new employer will know that she has nowhere else to go, and will both treat and pay her accordingly.

Breitbart cannot replace its employees with machines and it can’t outsource them to Bangladesh (though wouldn’t that be something?), but it certainly can make an example out of somebody to make sure everyone else stays in line. Miss McHugh has now been cast into the ranks of our country’s poor, white, and hated surplus population, a surplus population she thought she and her now-former employer were helping. Her role will be filled on the cheap with a recent college grad dreaming of sticking it to his liberal professors, or hoping that Steve Bannon will get his dad a new job at a new factory. Like with every job after a high-profile firing, the employees will be sure to be extra productive and extra obedient until the memory of the incident fades.

As the late Pierre Bourdieu noted in Acts of Resistance:

It has emerged clearly that job insecurity is now everywhere…. in industry, but also in the institutions of cultural production and diffusion — education, journalism, the media, etc…. The existence of a large reserve army, which, because of the overproduction of graduates, is no longer restricted to the lowest levels of competence and technical qualification, helps to give all those in work the sense that they are in no way irreplaceable and that their work, their jobs, are in some way a privilege, a fragile, threatened privilege…. So insecurity acts directly on those it touches (and whom it renders incapable of mobilizing themselves) and indirectly on all the others, through the fear it arouses…. by putting the workers in permanent danger of losing their jobs. The whole world of production, material and cultural, public and private, is thus carried along by a process of intensification of insecurity.

Breitbart is not reforming or getting woke, they just figured out a new way to bring casualization to a media company. The ocean of angry Pepe’s on twitter is one big pool of cheap reserve labor for every Roger Ailes who’s still breathing and hoping to turn a buck on the misdirected rage of the Rust Belt and Appalachia. Said reserve labor pool is a capitalist’s dream. It already has a false consciousness that guarantees they won’t unionize, and ensures they’ll look to solve their economic woes through nationalism instead of class solidarity.

Katie McHugh is never going to get the Muslim ban she dreams of. Instead, she’s going to have a harder and harder time getting those medical bills taken care of. The folks that promised her one are the same folks who are giving her the other.

Did she work for an evil company to actively promote evil? Yes. Are her beliefs reprehensible? Absolutely. But right now, she’s just another overworked woman with medical expenses who got fired by an unscrupulous boss. While that situation certainly won’t change Breitbart’s outlook, it might change hers.

With any luck, she’ll take note that it wasn’t Muslims who used her for their own aims and then spit her back out, it was a bunch of old white capitalists who told her they were on her side.

More articles by:
July 17, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Trump & The Big Bad Bugs
Robert Hunziker
Trump Kills Science, Nature Strikes Back
John Grant
The Politics of Cruelty
Kenneth Surin
Calculated Buffoonery: Trump in the UK
Binoy Kampmark
Helsinki Theatrics: Trump Meets Putin
Patrick Bond
BRICS From Above, Seen Critically From Below
Jim Kavanagh
Fighting Fake Stories: The New Yorker, Israel and Obama
Daniel Falcone
Chomsky on the Trump NATO Ruse
W. T. Whitney
Oil Underground in Neuquén, Argentina – and a New US Military Base There
Doug Rawlings
Ken Burns’ “The Vietnam War” was Nominated for an Emmy, Does It Deserve It?
Rajan Menon
The United States of Inequality
Thomas Knapp
Have Mueller and Rosenstein Finally Gone Too Far?
Cesar Chelala
An Insatiable Salesman
Dean Baker
Truth, Trump and the Washington Post
Mel Gurtov
Human Rights Trumped
Binoy Kampmark
Putin’s Football Gambit: How the World Cup Paid Off
July 16, 2018
Sheldon Richman
Trump Turns to Gaza as Middle East Deal of the Century Collapses
Charles Pierson
Kirstjen Nielsen Just Wants to Protect You
Brett Wilkins
The Lydda Death March and the Israeli State of Denial
Patrick Cockburn
Trump Knows That the US Can Exercise More Power in a UK Weakened by Brexit
Robert Fisk
The Fisherman of Sarajevo Told Tales Past Wars and Wars to Come
Gary Leupp
When Did Russia Become an Adversary?
Uri Avnery
“Not Enough!”
Dave Lindorff
Undermining Trump-Putin Summit Means Promoting War
Manuel E. Yepe
World Trade War Has Begun
Binoy Kampmark
Trump Stomps Britain
Wim Laven
The Best Deals are the Deals that Develop Peace
Kary Love
Can We Learn from Heinrich Himmler’s Daughter? Should We?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Franklin Lamb, Requiescat in Pace
Weekend Edition
July 13, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Brian Cloughley
Lessons That Should Have Been Learned From NATO’s Destruction of Libya
Paul Street
Time to Stop Playing “Simon Says” with James Madison and Alexander Hamilton
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of Formula and Honey
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s Intellectuals Bow to the Queen of Chaos 
Michael Collins
The Affirmative Action Silo
Andrew Levine
Tipping Points
Geoff Dutton
Fair and Balanced Opinion at the New York Times
Ajamu Baraka
Cultural and Ideological Struggle in the US: a Final Comment on Ocasio-Cortez
David Rosen
The New McCarthyism: Is the Electric Chair Next for the Left?
Ken Levy
The McConnell Rule: Nasty, Brutish, and Unconstitutional
George Wuerthner
The Awful Truth About the Hammonds
Robert Fisk
Will Those Killed by NATO 19 Years Ago in Serbia Ever Get Justice?
Robert Hunziker
Three Climatic Monsters with Asteroid Impact
Ramzy Baroud
Europe’s Iron Curtain: The Refugee Crisis is about to Worsen
Nick Pemberton
A Letter For Scarlett JoManDaughter
Marilyn Garson
Netanyahu’s War on Transcendence 
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail