Celebrity chef William Crandall, who heads Michael Mina’s Stripsteak in the Fontainebleau Miami Beach, has been smeared by Reuters and Miami Times journalist Zachary Fagenson for wearing a hat associated with the Proud Boys fraternal organization.
Fagenson obtained a photo from Crandall’s private Instagram, in which Crandall wore a camouflage Proud Boys hat while holding his infant son.
According to Fagenson, this serves as proof of the celebrity chef’s membership in the organization, which Fagenson falsely claims was considered an “extremist group with ties to white nationalists” by the FBI, and that Crandall must exhibit “chauvinist, racist, or bigoted” attitudes and behaviors. Fagenson also claims that the Proud Boys make immigrant families an “object of scorn”.
It was briefly reported last year that the FBI was investigating the Proud Boys, and this was quickly revealed to be a false rumor circulated entirely in media circles that had no basis in reality.
Within Fagenson’s article, Crandall explicitly denies having ties with the Proud Boys, and states that he is “not a hateful person, and I’ve never said a hateful thing about anybody in this business.” Crandall added, “I’m not and I would never support anything homophobic, Islamophobic, xenophobic, or anything that promotes hate.”
Big League Politics was contacted by Enrique Tarrio, the self described Afro-Cuban chairman of the Proud Boys, who informed us that he has never met Crandall and that the celebrity chef is not a member of the fraternal organization.
“I’m not worried one bit about our members, who are known for their tough skin and their ability to drain a bar of their supply of Budweiser,” wrote Tarrio. “I’m worried about a gentlemen I have never heard of, William Crandall.”
Tarrio is both the chairman of the Proud Boys and the president of the Vice City chapter of the Proud Boys, which based on geography, would have required Tarrio to personally approve Crandall’s Proud Boys membership.
“Welcome to the Miami New Times, where they want to smear a person for wearing a hat,” added Tarrio. “This is why we are suing the SPLC, for slander like this.”
Big League Politics contacted Fagenson for comment on this factually inaccurate story, and the journalist declined to speak to us and referred us to his editors, who have thus far not provided a comment.
Big League Politics also contacted Reuters for comment regarding whether they intend to take any action after one of their journalists flagrantly broke with the outfit’s Handbook of Journalism by relying on debunked information. We did not receive a response from Reuters.
Tarrio also told Big League Politics that while the organization has no relationship with Crandall, the Proud Boys stand for the celebrity chef’s right to wear what he wants, and may consider protesting the restaurant if it chooses to fire Crandall based on Fagenson’s reporting.
“If they fire [Crandall], I might be inclined to get our chapter and use our First Amendment right to protest this establishment,” wrote Tarrio, noting that they successfully did this “at The Cheesecake Factory when they discriminated [against] an African American for wearing his Make America Great Again hat.”
Tarrio claims his organization’s protest resulted in two Cheesecake Factory employees being fired.
The current status of Crandall’s employment with the restaurant is unknown.
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