If you ask OpenAI’s artificial-intelligence chatbot ChatGPT to generate a Steve Sailer tweet, it will respond, “I’m sorry, I cannot generate a Steve Sailer tweet, as his tweets often contain controversial and divisive content, which goes against OpenAI’s values of promoting kindness and respect.” Major publications are afraid to cite him. Journalists I know are afraid to be seen interacting with him on Twitter. A Florida professor was disciplined by his university for linking to a Steve Sailer article on his personal Twitter account.

The marketing researcher-turned-online gadfly has long been a fixture of conservative internet commentary. After receiving his MBA at University of California, Los Angeles, in 1982, Sailer spent almost two decades in the business world working on such things as consumer data from grocery scanners before becoming a full-time journalist. His interests in typical company-barbecue topics—golf, sports, real estate—turned out to intersect in provocative ways with his more esoteric interests in genetics, history, and anthropology, especially on the issues of race and sex. This has made Sailer’s writing too controversial for most right-of-center publications.

Yet everybody reads him. Stories that Sailer broke can be traced like blue dye as they seep through the rest of the media. One was the University of Virginia rape hoax. For 10 days after Rolling Stone published its story about a violent gang rape at a fraternity at UVA, the internet was abuzz with praise for the author, journalist Sabrina Rubin Erdely. Jeffrey Toobin of CNN called the story “amazing work.” Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic tweeted, “Superb reporting job.” The president of UVA suspended all Greek activity on campus for the rest of the year on the basis of the article.

Journalist Richard Bradley was the first person to raise questions about Erdely’s reporting in a post on his personal blog. Sailer commented on Bradley’s post adding some doubts of his own, then came back a few days later to see that he was still the only commenter. At that point, on Nov. 29, 2014, he linked to Bradley from his own blog, iSteve, which started a cascade of scrutiny into the story’s implausible details. Erdely’s story fell apart and had to be retracted, eventually leading to multiple lawsuits against Rolling Stone, resulting in multimillion-dollar jury awards and settlements.

Get the best of Compact right in your inbox.

Sign up for our free newsletter today.

Great! Check your inbox and click the link.
Sorry, something went wrong. Please try again.