It's Republican heaven: The RNC has transformed Cleveland into a right-wing hub

Downtown featured ads by InfoWars, Dinesh D'Souza & other right-wing groups for the Republican National Convention

Published July 18, 2016 4:43PM (EDT)

Delegates walk outside of Quicken Loans Arena before the opening session of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, July 18, 2016.   (AP/Matt Rourke)
Delegates walk outside of Quicken Loans Arena before the opening session of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, July 18, 2016. (AP/Matt Rourke)

Salon arrived in sunny Cleveland on Sunday for the 2016 Republican National Convention. Although normally a somewhat liberal city, Cleveland has turned into a right-wing hub for the RNC. In fact, it's impossible to walk a single block without being made distinctly aware of the ongoing convention.

As soon as we arrived, we were welcomed by a plane carrying a banner reading, "Hillary for Prison 2016."

The banner was sponsored by InfoWars, the far-right website of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.

Jones, a staunch supporter of Donald Trump, insists the "New World Order" and "globalists" control the planet. He also claims that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Oklahoma City bombing and Sept. 11 attacks were "false flags" to take away Americans' freedoms.

Trump himself has appeared on Jones' extreme right-wing show. Some of InfoWars' more popular conspiracies are that the government is poisoning Americans with water fluoridation and that the United Nations is a communist cabal.

Numerous ads in downtown Cleveland, paid for by a right-wing group, read "Don't believe the liberal media!"

Another ad emblazoned on the sidewalk also told pedestrians not to believe "the liberal media."

These ads were paid for by the Media Research Center, a right-wing media organization that says it seeks to prove supposed "liberal bias" exists in the U.S. media that "undermines traditional American values."

The organizations says its goal is "to neutralize its impact on the American political scene." It receives funding from foundations, and has also been supported by ExxonMobil.

In 2011, Media Research Center President Brent Bozell said on Fox News that President Obama looks like "a skinny ghetto crackhead."

Many buses and bus stations in downtown Cleveland also feature ads for right-wing pundit Dinesh D'Souza's new film "Hillary's America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party."

Media outlets and Twitter took over restaurants and bars in downtown Cleveland to make hubs from which to work.

One man sitting near the MSNBC tent held signs reading "Trump vs tramp" and "Hillary for prison." He wore an "infidel" t-shirt and his sign linked to a pro-Israel, anti-Muslim website.

It seems everything in the city revolved around the convention. Virtually all of the local restaurants and bars featured RNC-related ads.

There was a heavy religious presence as well. Baptist churches from northeast Ohio were handing out pamphlets titled "How to Get to Heaven from the RNC."

The pamphlet implores readers, "Find an Independent, Fundamental, Baptist church, and be baptized in obedience to your Lord."

They handed out another brochure that implied that the U.S. is and must be based on Christianity as its "foundation."

Ohio's Faith Community Baptist Church also handed out a pleasant-looking pamphlet with smiley faces on the cover. On the inside, however, are warnings of fire and brimstone.

"The only way you can pay for your sins is by spending eternity in Hell," the pamphlet says.

By Ben Norton

Ben Norton is a politics reporter and staff writer at AlterNet. You can find him on Twitter at @BenjaminNorton.

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Cleveland Elections 2016 Republican National Convention Rnc 2016