This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.
As one of the most popular hosts for Canada's alt-right media torchbearer, the Rebel, Lauren Southern has frequently put herself in crowds of people whose views are fundamentally at odds with her own. She's made a habit of parachuting into spaces where visible minorities are speaking out about their rights and demanding they explain their political positions and teach her why she's wrong.
Southern — who announced on Thursday that she is parting ways with the Rebel and "going independent" — sees herself as a commentator, tasked with countering "the mass amount of left wing media we have that pretends to be impartial in Canada." In a series of interviews with VICE News over the last month, she opened up about her views, her critics, and how she's built her profile.
Almost immediately, she is recognized by a protester who politely confronts her about the Rebel's coverage of a mass shooting in a Quebec mosque earlier this year, in which Alexandre Bissonnette, a white man who reportedly expressed anti-refugee views, allegedly killed six Muslims as they prayed. Early reports had mistakenly identified a Muslim man as a suspect but unlike other news outlets, the Rebel didn't correct the record until the following day.
"She corrected that information, if you paid attention to the next news report, which you apparently didn't," Southern tells the woman, defending her then-colleague Faith Goldy, who in her reports continued to raise questions about what authorities may be hiding.
This tactic of seeding doubt and raising questions that counter the dominant narrative in mainstream media has proven fruitful for the Rebel, which is just over two years old. Founded by anti-establishment and right-wing muckraker Ezra Levant, the organization has a roster of 28 hosts and contributors, rakes in millions of views every month on YouTube, and is influential enough that a rally held in Toronto in opposition of a motion to condemn Islamophobia also drew four contenders for leadership of the federal Conservatives.
It's not clear what led Southern and the Rebel to part ways. The young pundit declined to get into details in her announcement and Levant wished her well on Twitter. But there's no question she had become one of its most powerful weapons.
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