Conservative YouTuber Joey Salads found himself in the crosshairs on Twitter this weekend, after a picture of him wearing a swastika armband was shared, along with his name, in a thread highlighting neo-Nazis who participated in the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The only problem: Salads was on vacation in Jamaica last weekend.
Nonetheless, the 23-year-old Hollywood resident said he’s still dealing with the blowback from the false association of him with the white supremacist and neo-Nazi protests that led to three deaths and dozens of injuries — and widespread national outcry.
“I’ve received hundreds of thousands of [direct messages] and tweets, people actively campaigning to get my social media taken down,” Salads told TheWrap. “You know, death threats — a large influx.”
Salads, who has 1.7 million followers on his YouTube channel, also claimed he lost a “four-figure” branding deal as a result of the confusion. He declined to share with TheWrap which brand had dropped him.
The mix-up came when the “Yes, You’re Racist” Twitter account shared a picture of Salads wearing a swastika from a YouTube skit he had posted in March — which was widely misinterpreted as if Salads had participated in the Charlottesville protests.
“He attached it to the thread of all the pictures at the rally, so he was trying to misdirect people into thinking I was at the rally,” said Salads. “There was some hit factor because I’m a YouTuber.”
The image itself was real. Salads said he deliberately wore the swastika to a mini-Trump rally for to see if he’d be called out — hoping to disprove a
As it happened, the three-minute, 40-second video showed Salads being hassled by other Trump supporters. “I don’t care if you wear a Trump hat on, if you’re coming around spouting that ideology you need to leave,” one man tells him.
After Salads reached out to “Yes, You’re Racist” to correct the record, project overseer Logan Smith posted a follow-up tweet, offering “apologies for the confusion.”
It seems this pic was from a different event. Mr. Salads says he was wearing the armband for an "experiment." Apologies for the confusion.
— Yes, You're Racist (@YesYoureRacist) August 13, 2017
“Somebody sent the photo to me of him at a conservative rally, wearing the armband, so I went ahead and sent it out,” Smith told TheWrap. “My original tweet said ‘Here’s a photo of Joey Salads wearing a Nazi armband,’ which, if you look at the picture, is pretty true to me.”
Smith added, “But we talked about it and it was clear that he wasn’t at that rally, so I took down the original post and posted a follow-up clarifying.”
Still, the mea culpa from Smith didn’t satisfy Salads.
“He tried to do some kind of loophole to justify him posting it, because it [Salads wearing a swastika] was technically a fact, but because it was tied into the Charlottesville stuff, it’s like he misrepresented it,” said Salads. “He purposely misdirected it to get more buzz on his stuff.”
Salads told TheWrap he’s a conservative, but not a member of the alt-right associated with extreme white supremacist and anti-Semitic views. “I’m a Trump supporter,” he said. “I don’t agree with everything he says or how he does it, but I’m 100 percent a conservative.”
The native New Yorker also pushed back when asked if he sympathized with the neo-Nazis at “Unite the Right.”
“I don’t support them at all,” said Salads. “And I don’t even think they politically align with the conservative movement.”
Now, Salads said he’s dealing with the fallout from Charlottesville. “It’s stressful, I’m trying to enjoy a vacation and I gotta deal with this fake news stuff, brought up from something six months ago,” he said.
Despite being out of town and not following the rally with a close eye, Salads told TheWrap the mainstream media has done a poor job of representing the situation.
“I’m obviously not condoning anything going on with Nazis, everything that happened there was wrong,” said Salads, who claimed that anti-fascist groups dubbed “antifa” also were riling up crowds. “But to act like this was 100 percent done by Nazis was false, because antifa was there as well, starting up fights and riots back. So people don’t like to talk about that right now.”
He concluded: “Something like this was just as much the fault of the extreme left as it is the extreme right, so there’s some hypocrisy going on there with celebrities and political figures.”