Moms for Liberty, the extreme right-wing, education-focused organization picking school board fights across the country, hosted their annual conference in Philadelphia over the weekend.
Though most media attention focused on appearances from leading Republican presidential candidates — including Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, Asa Hutchinson and Vivek Ramaswamy — one program in particular offered the clearest insight yet into the group’s modus operandi.
You may remember from my previous post that Moms for Liberty scheduled a breakout session promising to offer tips on “mastering the spin” when it comes to the media. Given the group is already pushing a bigoted anti-education agenda under the guise of parental love and care, I figured the session could have just as easily been named “How to manipulate the media and its narratives for personal gain.”
Thanks to NBC News, we now have an idea of the kinds of things attendees learned at this session. In short: Never apologize for mistakes, target your opponents relentlessly and always maintain paranoia about the media. The session was hosted by Florida GOP Chair Christian Ziegler, the husband of a Moms for Liberty co-founder.
According to NBC News, Ziegler criticized a local Moms for Liberty chapter for publicly apologizing after it used a quote attributed to Hitler in one of its newsletters. (Weird: Hitler quotes seem to be a recurring issue for Moms for Liberty.)
NBC News reported:
“Never apologize. Ever,” said Christian Ziegler, the chairman of the Florida Republican Party. “This is my view. Other people have different views on this. I think apologizing makes you weak.”
He advised the attendees to instead make it clear that the Hitler comment was “vile” but to immediately pivot to make the point that Hitler indoctrinated children in schools and that that’s what Moms for Liberty was fighting against. Ziegler warned that any apology would become the headline, so that should be avoided.
The host also told attendees how to pester their political opponents:
Ziegler told attendees to look for opportunities to rattle their opponents, and he shared as an example a tactic to mess with a political opponent’s head. It involved printing out a direct mail piece that goes to 50 of the opponent’s friends and neighbors — but that the person will believe went to the whole town.
“They’re totally paranoid,” Ziegler said. “And they’ve burned three days of productivity” because they’re spending time worrying about a mailer that went out to only a few dozen people.
Ziegler frames this as a somewhat benign political ploy, but some could also argue it’s a legitimate scare tactic. Moms for Liberty has been classified as an extremist group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. People who hear of Moms for Liberty mailers in their community have every reason to be concerned.
Ultimately, this kind of strategizing by Moms for Liberty and its supporters calls for heavier media scrutiny of the organization. There should be no lingering doubt that the group is anything but a tool used by the conservative movement to attack people and concepts — like Black authors or multiculturalism — they don’t like being introduced to the masses.
I’m reminded that right-wing conspiracy theorist Steve Bannon spoke, in 2021, about deploying “suburban moms” in the fight against inclusive school curricula. Bannon has promoted Moms for Liberty on his podcast several times, and I suspect he’s happy to know their members and associates are being trained in the “art” of media manipulation.