A three-year-old CNN interview with hate group leader Matthew Heimbach came in handy today as the news network covered a violent fight in Sacramento between the white nationalist Traditionalist Worker Party and the anti-fascist group By Any Means Necessary. Heimbach – who was not at the Sacramento rally but is a leader of the TWP – was interviewed several years ago for his racist views as a member of the The White Student Union of Towson University in Maryland.
Heimbach can also be seen in much-viewed news footage from a March Donald Trump rally in Louisville, KY. In the footage, Heimback is shown shoving a female Black Lives Matter member through the crowd.
Although CNN didn’t pre-empt regular programming for its Sacramento coverage, the network devoted considerably more time throughout the afternoon to the violence than other news networks. By 5 pm ET, MSNBC went with its usual Lockup programming. Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace focused on political coverage.
In CNN’s old interview with Heimbach, the 2013 Towson grad spoke of his involvement in a student group opposed to campus crime. The group was suspected of writing “White Pride” graffiti and inventing the campus crime rate statistics.
Heimbach said in a statement today to CNN that his group was defending itself from attackers at the Sacramento rally. “The anti-fascists used knives, bottles, bricks, and chunks of concrete they broke off a construction site. When they attacked, our men defended themselves to be able to drive the attackers off,” he told CNN today.
Seven people were hospitalized, with at least two having serious stab wounds, according to Sacramento Police Department Officer Matt McPhail.