Maui guest interrupts Steve Bannon broadcast to rail against politicisation of wildfire coverage

Journalist Nick Sortor was interrupted by a man who popped up behind him on camera

Kelly Rissman
Monday 21 August 2023 23:00 BST
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Maui resident interrupts Steve Bannon guest and slates politicised coverage of wildfires

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Steve Bannon’s War Room podcast had an unexpected guest show up mid-broadcast when the former Trump aide’s interview subject was confronted by a Maui resident who accused him of politically exploiting the island’s wildfires.

Nick Sortor, an independent journalist who has been featured on Fox News, Newsmax and OAN, has been covering the Maui wildfires. While talking to Bannon, he was interrupted by a man who popped up behind him on camera.

“Hey, what’s up, Nick? I’ve been trying to reach out to you, been reaching out to you on X,” the man said, referring to the social media site previously known as Twitter. “You’re supposed to be meeting with people here. What victims have you been meeting?”

The journalist appeared confused and stumbled a bit before saying to Bannon, “So you’re seeing this vibe right now. People actually track me down.”

Despite Sortor turning back to the camera, the man continues to heckle him, saying, “I thought you were staying in a tent?” and then accused him of “taking up resources.”

“I don’t know how you live with yourself, man,” the heckler continued. “You’ve seen the devastation; you’ve seen the people.”

Sortor then grabbed the camera and appeared to try to walk away from the man. Bannon asked what was going on, to which Sortor replied: “I’m getting chased is what’s going on.” He added that he was being “doxxed.”

The man caught up to Sortor though, and continued to argue with the journalist, who then apologised to Bannon.

Bannon asked if he was safe and Sortor replied that he wasn’t sure. “This is terrifying,” he said to camera as he moved to a secluded spot. “I don’t even wanna go near my vehicle. I don’t want them to know what vehicle I’m driving either.”

The journalist recounted the incident in a lengthy post on X. He said the incident began at 5.45am, when he was talking to Bannon and “while alone in the rear of my hotel,a stalker aggressively approached me from behind.”

He added that his hotel is 45 minutes from Lahaina. “I don’t know who this guy is or why he showed up to my hotel at 5:45 am. He would’ve had NO WAY of knowing I had a live shot scheduled,” Sortor wrote.

“I’ve even received SEVERAL death threats from ‘anonymous’ users (aka cowards) over the past days, and ESPECIALLY the last 12 hours. Although I now have to move hotels, get a new rental car, and possibly even HIRE SECURITY to travel around with me for my own safety,I WILL NOT BE DETERRED,” he continued.

“If anything, I will be MORE vocal. Stalking and harassing me WILL backfire—I promise you that. I don’t trust the Maui, Hawaii, or US governments. They’re all lying. They know the truth, but they’re hiding it from the public,” the journalist concluded.

Despite Sortor’s claims that he wasn’t planning on sleeping in a tent, he previously tweeted on 14 August: “This is going to be incredibly expensive (although a few of us will be camping in a tent to ensure we don’t take hotel rooms from locals), but if you can afford to support us independent journalists, we’d SINCERELY appreciate it.” He then posted payment details for the “Lahaina Maui Journalism Relief Fund”; as of Monday, the fund has raised just over $1,900.

In another tweet, he vowed to bring his own tent to Hawaii: “I’ll literally ship a tent to Maui. I will NOT take a hotel room away from the displaced residents. I’ll promise you that. I wish I had the money to help house all of them.”

A heckler called Nick Sortor out for living in a hotel room instead of a tent, as he had promised to do on social media
A heckler called Nick Sortor out for living in a hotel room instead of a tent, as he had promised to do on social media (Nick Sortor / X)

Sortor also previously claimed in a tweet that the fires were not a natural disaster. He wrote, “This fire was started by HUMANS—whether accidentally or intentionally. The government LIES are absolutely ENRAGING.” Similarly, he also alleged in a separate tweet, “This Maui disaster is CRIMINAL. PEOPLE NEED TO GO TO JAIL. I’m fired up more now than I’ve ever been. WE’RE GOING TO BLOW THE LID OFF THIS COVERUP.”

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