Reveal: Richard Spencer’s Cotton Farms

— By Julia B. Chan, Reveal

On this episode of Reveal, we follow up on three stories at the center of controversy.

White nationalist Richard Spencer has left Montana to set up shop in the nation’s capital – so, how’s it going? Well, he’s been punched on the streets of Washington, D.C., and kicked out of a major conservative political gathering.

Reveal host Al Letson catches up with Spencer, who claims donations to his organization promoting a “white ethno state” have increased tenfold since the election of Donald Trump. But how much is his own money supporting his work? Our reporting has identified one source of Spencer’s family wealth: cotton farms in Louisiana, held since the days of Jim Crow segregation and now worth millions of dollars. We asked Spencer about his cotton farming wealth; he didn’t want to talk about it.

Next, we hear the story of the Marine veteran who broke the news that hundreds – possibly thousands – of naked photographs of female service members were being shared online.

The photos, distributed through a Facebook page called “Marines United,” were reported on by former Marine-turned-journalist Thomas Brennan. Al talks to Brennan about what he found. They also discuss the backlash against Brennan – his family’s been threatened and people have dug up Brennan’s social media past in which he made lewd comments about women. Al also speaks with one of the women whose photos were found.

And finally, we follow a man who was at the center of a recent Reveal episode about a decades-old arson case. Bryan Sheppard was recently released from federal prison after serving 22 years for a crime he says he didn’t commit. He and four others were given life sentences for the deaths of six firefighters in Kansas City, Missouri.

Sheppard talks to Al in his first extensive interview since being released. We hear from Sheppard on what it’s like to be free and reunited with his family.

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Reveal is a weekly radio program produced by The Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX. For more, check out our website and subscribe to our podcast. Image: Anna Vignet for Reveal

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