September 4, 2023 | NPR

Jared Holt speaks to NPR about how a country song became the anthem of the far right

‘Rich Men North of Richmond’ reached the top of the Billboard top 100 chart almost overnight, catapulting its unknown singer, Oliver Anthony, to instant fame. It was even mentioned on the stage of the first Republican primary debate.

ISD’s senior researcher Jared Holt spoke to NPR about this song and why far-right figures are attaching themselves to it.

Jared explains how this song not only rails against taxation and people on welfare but also nods to a widespread conspiracy theory about the Jeffrey Epstein scandal and his death in jail in 2019. He explains how sceptical views surrounding Epstein’s death became intertwined with anxieties around COVID-19 and election fraud narratives.

He goes on to explain how this song became viral: “It sort of spread as an anthem. How I encountered it was through political channels rather than music-focused channels. It’s not like Pitchfork wrote up the song.”

“What is concerning is how this song is being used and the type of figures who are attaching themselves to the song, especially on the back of its success […] And if these far-right figures are successful in associating themselves directly with the song, it could potentially open up a wider audience that they might normally not have access to all the time.”