The show has been streaming live from a small rental home near Clearwater.
Anthime Gionet appears behind the microphone with his signature Pit Viper glasses and the same bleached hair that was on display when he livestreamed the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection from inside the U.S. Capitol.
Fans know him as Baked Alaska, a nickname referring to his home state, and follow along in the chat box as he shouts out each one by their usernames.
The host and his audience spend more than six hours a night together via livestream, time mostly filled with him playing video games on a shared screen. But he also leads hours-long discussions on politics and culture, spreading an ideology where white Christian men are under threat and women shouldn’t be leaders.
Gionet has made Pinellas County home for the past year as he awaits sentencing for his role in the insurrection, his arrival overlapping with a stark rise in extremism in Florida over the last few years.
Since moving from Arizona, he has hosted a parade of antisemitic and racist livestreamers who used his rental house as a base to spread fear and hate on the internet, their fans responding with donations.
In December from Gionet’s living room, three men laughed while hoisting a Nazi flag on camera.
During a show on Aug. 19, Gionet read a follower’s comment: “What’s important is a place where we don’t have to say what women and Jews tell us to.”
He looked at the camera.
Gionet recently announced he’s here to stay. On Monday he moved into a house he bought “in the Tampa area.” But he has been careful to not disclose too many details since his rental had quickly become a target of harassment by sleuths who tracked his address.
Gionet, 34, has been a steady figure in the Trump era, outlasting other white nationalists who attained wider name recognition but faded from view. He was one of the few alt-right celebrities at the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, who went on to play a visible role in the Capitol breach.
He now aligns with the America First movement, an alt-right spinoff whose 24-year-old founder Nick Fuentes paints immigration as a threat to traditional values and rejects the Republican party for being too moderate.
Fuentes, of Chicago, has hosted four conferences in Florida since early 2020 that have drawn political figures and white supremacists like failed congressional candidate Laura Loomer and former U.S. Rep. Steve King.
While Gionet doesn’t have the same reach, he plays a large supporting role by radicalizing followers with his lively, joking delivery, said Jared Holt, an expert on hate and extremism in the U.S. and senior research manager for Institute for Strategic Dialogue.
Read inspiring stories about ordinary lives
Subscribe to our free How They Lived newsletter
You’ll get a remembrance of Tampa Bay residents we’ve lost, including heartwarming and amusing details about their lives, every Tuesday.
You’re all signed up!
Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.
“This stuff doesn’t exist purely online,” Holt said. “These antics end up having actual consequences in the real world, whether it’s doing something ridiculous for these streamers or saying something to please his audience.”
It’s not clear why Gionet moved to Tampa Bay. But he did so as Florida has seen a significant increase in hate-related incidents in the past two years, “driven, in part, by widespread disinformation and conspiracy theories which have animated extremists and fueled antisemitism,” according to a report published this month by the Anti-Defamation League.
The number of antisemitic incidents like harassment and vandalism rose 50% in 2021 over the previous year in Florida, the report said.
This reality has prompted synagogues to secure their buildings in ways they’ve never had to before, said Matthew Berger, rabbi at Temple Ahavat Shalom in Palm Harbor.
“Time and again it’s shown that hateful rhetoric and words can lead to violence and that is really the danger that comes from this,” Berger said.
Before killing 11 people at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburg in 2018, the shooter posted antisemitic comments on a far-right website.
Gionet did not respond to a note left at his door or to an email sent to his attorney seeking comment. He did share the note and phone number on a social media feed and encouraged followers to harass the reporter seeking comment.
‘Our boy Donald J. Trump’
Gionet will be sentenced on Jan. 12 for his role in the Capitol insurrection after pleading guilty in July to one misdemeanor count of parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building. It carries a maximum sentence of six months in prison.
Inside the building that day, Gionet turned the camera to his face as he picked up a phone in an office and pretended to speak to the U.S. Senate.
“Yes we have a fraudulent election I would like to report,” he said. “Yeah, we need to get our boy Donald J. Trump into office.”
During the hour livestream, fans commented in the chat box and some donated money.
Streaming is income for white nationalist influencers like Gionet. During his daily show, a bar at the bottom of the screen counts real-time donations fans make toward his $2,000 weekly goal.
Since he’s been banned from most mainstream sites like YouTube, Twitter, and GoFundMe, Gionet has used the streaming platform launched by Fuentes and a fundraising platform created by another white nationalist.
“This monetized propaganda represents an entirely new way to make money,” said Megan Squire, deputy director for data analytics at Southern Poverty Law Center. “In the past, threat actors would take donations to fund the creation of propaganda. Here, they are able to make money from the propaganda itself.”
Prosecutors used Gionet’s video to build their case against him, quoting his words and actions with correlating time stamps in the Department of Justice’s affidavit.
Gionet is also scheduled for another trial, this one set for Oct. 21 in Scottsdale, Arizona. He faces two misdemeanor charges alleging he defaced a Happy Hanukkah sign at the state Capitol last November, according to court records. An archived video shows Gionet livestreaming while he pulled down the sign from a menorah display and said: “No more Happy Hanukkah. Only Merry Christmas. This is a disgrace.”
In an unrelated case in Scottsdale, Gionet was sentenced in January to 30 days in an Arizona jail after being convicted of misdemeanor assault, disorderly conduct and criminal trespass when he pepper-sprayed a bouncer who told him to leave a bar while livestreaming. The sentence has been stayed until an appeal is heard.
Pepper spray is described as “content spray” in the online community of white nationalist livestreaming, where antics often escalate as donations pour in real-time.
On July 29, white nationalist livestreamer Shawn Tyler McCreless, 30, pepper sprayed three people outside The Castle, a dance club in Ybor City, after a man knocked his camera out of his hand, video shows.
The Tampa Police Department had no record of the incident.
At the time, McCreless, of Alabama, had been living with Gionet in the rental near Clearwater. When Gionet announced on his livestream that he bought a house in the Tampa area, he stated McCreless will be living there with him too.
McCreless was one of the men who held up the Nazi flag for Gionet’s livestream last year. Another was Zvonimir Joseph Jurlina, 32, a fellow Jan. 6 defendant who was arrested in June, accused of destroying property during the riot while livestreaming.
“The bigger concern for Floridians is to step back and say, ‘Why are we attracting this person who has worn out his welcome almost in 49 other states?’” Southern Poverty Law Center spokesperson Michael Edison Hayden said of Gionet.
“Figures like this feel they are safe in Florida, and I think that has a lot to do with the kind of culture courted by politicians there.”
Doubling down on extremism
Gionet grew up in Anchorage, the son of Christian missionaries. After college, he began creating rap videos under the name Baked Alaska.
His willingness to do social media stunts like pouring a gallon of milk on his face got him a job in 2015 at Buzzfeed, where Gionet worked on the outlet’s social media accounts, according to a 2021 New York Times column that former Buzzfeed editor in chief Ben Smith wrote about Gionet’s role in the insurrection.
Gionet left Buzzfeed in 2016 to work for far-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos. His social media following grew, expanding to nearly 200,000 on Twitter before he was banned, where he shared videos of people saying “Hitler did nothing wrong,” Gizmodo reported.
Gionet was scheduled to be a speaker at the Unite the Right rally in August 2017, where he livestreamed while shouting “You will not replace us” during that night’s infamous torch-lit march. The next day, a white supremacist drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer.
After the 2019 massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand, where a white supremacist killed 51 people at two mosques, Gionet recorded a video repenting for his rhetoric. He said “this shooting was highly influenced by internet online meme culture” and said “I regret ever contributing anything to that culture.”
“A huge reason I left the alt-right is because these jokes started to distort my reality and I bought into a lot of bad ideas that I had no idea I was even thinking myself,” Gionet said. “In a weird, crazy way, I was brainwashed, I was part of a cult, and I just want to stop people from making the same mistakes before it’s too late.”
But he only leaned deeper into extremism, often livestreaming in public to capture reactions while his speaker played a racial slur on repeat.
He continued livestreaming when he moved to Pinellas County around July 2021, and it didn’t go unnoticed.
Last year, he was kicked out of the Conservative Grounds coffee shop in Largo while filming. He responded by sharing the shop’s number and encouraged his online fans to call and harass the store.
Gionet also has been the victim of at least 10 “swatting” calls, where a person reports a fake crime to 911 to prompt a law enforcement response.
During one on Nov. 22, a person called police falsely identifying themselves as Gionet. The caller stated he shot his girlfriend and was going to shoot himself, according to a Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office report.
Clearwater Police responded and surrounded the house. Sheriff’s deputies arrived with ballistic shields. Police detained Gionet and four others in the house, including Jurlina, the fellow Jan. 6 defendant, and white nationalist livestreamer Jared Noble.
A military tactical vehicle and a helicopter arrived, the sheriff’s report said. After searching the house, law enforcement determined the incident was bogus.
In another incident last year, Gionet called police when his lawn service alerted him that someone had thrown tin cans in front of his house.
Written on the cans were messages: “F–k you Nazi” and “GO HOME.”
Friends, this isn’t the time to be complacent. If you are ready to fight for the soul of this nation, you can start by donating to elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris by clicking the button below.
Thank you so much for supporting Joe Biden’s Presidential campaign.