Former Star-Telegram Conservative Columnist Spews Hate in Student Chatroom
Why was an intolerant activist allowed to double-time as a columnist for a major newspaper?
Update February 1, 2023: Representatives of the Fort Worth NewsGuild (the union which represents many Fort Worth Star-Telegram staff reporters) stated that they previously requested information from McClatchy, the paper’s parent company, about how four conservative columnists, including the subject of this article, were chosen for their roles. Their request was denied. According to a statement shared on the union’s Twitter account in response to this article, the guild stands “firmly against hateful rhetoric and misinformation in all its forms—including when it appears in any of the pages of our newspaper.”
“As journalists, we are expected to deliver fair, accurate content. We call on McClatchy and Fort Worth Star-Telegram management to apply the same standards of accuracy and ethics to columnists as are applied to newsroom employees,” the statement concludes.
Last year, Carlos Turcios regularly wrote columns for the Fort Worth Star Telegram that criticized Fort Worth Independent School District (FWISD) while simultaneously working for a PAC that opposed so-called “critical race theory” and called for organizing protests against FWISD policies—facts that were rarely disclosed in his essays.
On January 25, 2022, the Star-Telegram announced a handful of new conservative columnists who they hoped would fill what they described at the time as a “dearth of content” in the area of “conservative commentary on local and state issues.” Nevermind the right-center rating the Star-Telegram has received from two media bias websites. According to the Star-Telegram, what Fort Worth needed at that particular juncture—amid a national panic over critical race theory—was more conservative commentary.
Among them was Carlos Turcios, described as a student at University of Texas at Arlington and a Republican Party precinct chairman who has “gained attention for his activism on education issues in the Fort Worth school district.” Indeed, Turcios has gained attention for organizing protests and events relating to issues that he writes about. Turcios has also gained the attention of the Texas Observer for the hateful posts he’s apparently made in a Discord chatroom for the UTA chapter of Turning Points USA (TPUSA), a nonprofit organization founded by right-wing activist Charlie Kirk focused on recruiting college students via chapters across the country that regularly promotes far-right talking points and has flirted with the “alt-right.”
(After the Texas Observer reached out to Turcios for comment, he changed his Twitter bio to reflect that he’s now a former, rather than a current columnist for the paper. His last column appeared on December 16).
The following quotes, culled from various Discord chats that occured between November 2022 and January 2023, include a variety of hateful rhetoric. Consider this a trigger warning.
“Radical leftists are flooding the petition against the sex Ed curriculum,” a user under the name Los Pollos Hermanos wrote in the UTA TPUSA Discord chatroom. (Los Pollos Hermanos is a reference to a fictional restaurant—with ties to the criminal underworld—in the TV show Breaking Bad). That user also posted a link to a Star-Telegram piece by Turcios, calling it “my article,” and was addressed as Carlos by other users—apparently confirming that Turcios was in fact writing under that username. “All because we are against a sex Ed curriculum that removes male and female. These people are pedos and groomers,” Los Pollos Hermanos continued.
In response to a Tik Tok post by a trans person, the user that is apparently Turcios—whose Facebook says he is the son of immigrant parents from Mexico and El Salvador—wrote “People like that need to lose their citizenship and be sent to Central America doing countryside labor.”
Turcios, under the name Los Pollos Hermanos, has also apparently spread deeply transphobic conspiracy theories in the chat echoing the bogus “great replacement theory” that was first originated and promoted by neo-fascist groups. “The Trans Community is a man made community created to destroy the nuclear family and western civilization,” he wrote.
When a second user asked, “Great Replacement Theory? Is that what it’s called?” a third user responded, “I don’t think it’s much of a theory anymore since they’re openly admitting it.”
“Ban the transformer surgeries once and for all,” Los Pollos Hermanos wrote in another post. “And the transformer injections.”
Los Pollos Hermanos, who is believed to be Turcios, put it more clearly in a separate series of posts. “Drag shows need to be criminalized at this point. Ban Gender reassignment surgeries. Ban Gay Marriage.” A laugh-crying emoji was appended after marriage.
Homophobia and transphobia aren’t the only form of bigotry Los Pollos Hermanos has exhibited in the chatroom. He also posted a YouTube video titled “Rush Limbaugh Mimicks [SIC] Chinese Language,” an act derided as racist by Asian-American lawmakers and advocacy groups like the Asian American Legal Defense and Education.
Turcios also expressed support for the attempted insurrection in Brazil by ultranationalist supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro, who refused to recognize his opponent’s electoral victory.
“Folks,” Los Pollos Hermanos wrote. “Brazil is based.”
In a series of posts from November 2022, Los Pollos Hermanos also spewed baseless, InfoWars-esque conspiracy theories regarding the “New World Order,” claiming the World Economic Forum and “Globalists” want to “destroy the family.”
The Discord chats also revealed Turcios’ role as the manager of the Instagram account for the TPUSA chapter at UTA.
“Find out who runs the TPUSA at UTA Instagram level: extremely easy,” wrote an unidentified used called Goose.
“It’s actually Carlos,” responded another user.
“True,” said Los Pollos Hermanos.
During Turcios’ apparent management of the account, the TPUSA Instagram posted a story that called for “jailing all abortioners (real).”
Turcios did not respond to requests for comment. But within 24 hours of being contacted, new policies were put in place in the chatroom and chat histories were deleted.
“From now on the server will wipe every 72 hours, maybe, still haven’t picked a time,” a user named Joe Zoo wrote.
“What?” responded a user named Mardarius Christo-Fascist.
“Uh,” Joe Zoo wrote. “Long story.”
The admin of the TPUSA UTA Discord, known by the username “Comrade Mac,” has a number of badges on their profile which act as identifiers and flair. Among them are “Hates our democracy,” “leadership,” and “club president.” That would be Camden Sipe, according to the official UTA clubs website for TPUSA, which lists Sipe as president of the club. In the chats, Sipe outed himself, sharing “my email” in a request for vice president candidates.
Sipe is a UTA student and active ROTC member, something which Comrade Mac mentioned in the Discord chats.
“I thought I was doing bad in ROTC but I got an email saying I was identified as a potential active duty cadet,” Comrade Mac wrote in the Discord.
Comrade Mac, apparently Sipe, also made posts promoting anti-drag protests organized by the New Columbia Movement, a Catholic Christofascist youth movement with ties to Carlism and Falangism—semi-fascist Catholic ideologies with roots in Spain that joined together to form the sole ruling party under dictator Francisco Franco’s brutal and repressive regime—which has also expressed support for the attempted coup in Brazil. Photos of those protests shared by the New Columbia Movement feature Sipe. One of those protests also attracted a separate openly neo-fascist group.
Sipe did not respond to a request for comment.
A variety of other tasteless and bigoted posts from other TPUSA UTA Discord users were reviewed by Texas Observer, including one user—who the Observer confirmed is not Black—spelling out the N-word.
In his role as columnist for the Star-Telegram, Turcios penned a handful of columns focused on so-called critical race theory. He also was given a platform to attack the UTA Progressive Student Union (UTA-PSU), which protested an event Turcios helped organize.
“My article about PSU,” Los Pollos Hermanos wrote in December 2022, alerting the entire chatroom to an article Turcios penned by tagging “@everyone.” The column, title “Since young leftists can’t or won’t defend their positions, this is what they do instead,” argued that members of UTA-PSU “no longer value freedom of speech” and “question basic biology” because they protested a TPUSA event featuring Jeff Younger, a failed Republican congressional candidate and transphobe who has said trans people “don’t exist.” Younger recently lost a custody battle over his child, who is gender nonconforming, which went all the way up to the Texas Supreme Court.
The Jeff Younger event wasn’t the only event Turcios organized that he also wrote about for the Star-Telegram. He played a hand in organizing a protest in opposition to the Fort Worth Independent School District (FWISD) Equity Department on July 26, 2022. On August 4, 2022, his name appeared under the following headline: Why were Fort Worth ESL teachers told ‘lesson planning is a political act’ in training session?
To be fair to the Star-Telegram, they did disclose that Turcios played a role in organizing protests of the district’s equity policies. But this was only after he’d written several articles about so-called critical race theory in the district. The disclosure is notably absent in articles by Turcios about FWISD written in February 2022, March 2022, April 2022. The disclosure appeared in an August 2022 column by Turcios where he mentioned a protest he’d helped organize and promote, but was again notably absent in a September 2022 column. The only time Turcios’ involvement as an officer of TPUSA UTA is noted is in his column from December 2022 about the Jeff Younger event at UTA when he was serving as a vice president of the organization.
While writing for the Star Telegram, Turcios was also actively working with Fort Worth First (FWF), an ostensibly nonpartisan PAC created to support school board candidates that oppose critical race theory and “transgenderism.” Public records show FWF officially started as a PAC in December 2021, but its Twitter account was started in August 2021. According to Turcios’ LinkedIn, from June 2021 to January 2022 he was employed as a contractor for GoodBoy Public Relations, a conservative political PR firm in Arlington originally responsible for the noxious Keep Dallas Safe astroturf scheme that was linked to another Republican PR firm in Utah that happened to be working with a hoax Black Lives Matter group in Dallas.
This all raises the question: Why did the Star-Telegram seek out a conservative activist who organized protests of the local school district to write about education policy in the district, only to frequently fail to disclose his involvement as a protest organizer? A failure to note Turcios’ involvement as a protest organizer could easily be attributed to ignorance were it not for the fact that the Star Telegram reported it several times in 2021. Turcios was recently quoted in a January 2023 article about FWISD.
The Star-Telegram did not respond to a request for comment.
By providing Turcios a platform as a columnist, the Star Telegram didn’t simply give a voice to a “right-of-center” commentator. They gave a microphone to a bigoted activist who has played a direct hand in some of the events on which he’s commented. Imagine if the shoe had been on the other foot and Turcios had been writing columns about the need for more inclusive education in FWISD while simultaneously organizing protests calling for that demand. The conservative media would have “canceled” him by now.