Over the past decade, media personality Candace Owens has been viewed as both an anti-conservative and pro-conservative commentator. It is seldom that you see someone’s political leaning make such a dramatic shift over such a small period of time. Not only has this shift been abrupt, but her rise to fame has been incredibly quick and mired with controversy.
During her post-secondary education, Owens had been pursuing an undergraduate degree in Journalism at the University of Rhode Island. After her junior year, however, she dropped out of school, citing an issue with her student loan as the cause.
Strangely, despite being unable to complete her education, Owens was able to secure an internship at Vogue magazine in New York. After this in 2012, she was hired as an administrative assistant for a private equity firm in Manhattan. Over her time at this organization she rose to the rank of vice president of administration.
In 2015, Owens became the CEO of Degree180. Degree180 was a marketing agency that offered consultation, production, and planning services. More notably, however, the business’ website included a blog that was known for sharing ant-conservative, and more specifically anti-Trump, content.
Owens, who wrote on the blog, was known for writing in an incredibly inflammatory manner. She would criticize then presidential candidate Donald Trump on his penis size, as well as comment on the “bat-shit-crazy antics of the Republican Tea Party”. She was also credited as writing “The good news is, they will eventually die off (peacefully in their sleep, we hope), and then we can get right on with the OBVIOUS social change that needs to happen, IMMEDIATELY.”
In 2016, Owens launched a much lauded website entitled SocialAutopsy.com. Owens claimed that the website would expose online bullies by tracking their digital footprint. The website would have had users send in screenshots of offensive posts, where they would then be categorized by username and indexed within a search engine for public viewing/shaming.
Online, and across a wide spectrum of ideologies and beliefs, this website was criticized for doing little more than doxxing internet users and violating their privacy. People from all sides believed that the website would become nothing other than a public shaming list that would encourage retaliatory harassment of those who ended up in it.
Eventually, SocialAutopsy.com was pulled into the GamerGate scandal, with both progressives and conservatives involved condemning the use of the site. Soon after this, people began sharing Owen’s personal information online in retaliation to the website being launched.
Owens, with little evidence beyond timing, blamed her doxing on progressive voices within the GamerGate controversy. After publicly laying the blame on the likes of Zoe Quinn, Owens was met with the support of right-wing political commentators like Milo Yiannopoulos and Mike Cernovich. It was at this moment that Owens made the switch from progressive to conservative.
In 2017 she commented on this, saying, “I became a conservative overnight … I realized that liberals were actually the racists. Liberals were actually the trolls … Social Autopsy is why I’m conservative”. Kickstarter suspended the funding received for Social Autopsy due to harassment and the website was never created.
Since this shift in ideology, Owens began posting about her pro-Trump views and anti liberal rhetoric regarding structural racism, systemic inequality, and identiy politics online. She launched Red Pill Black, a website and YouTube channel that discussed and promoted black conservatism in the US.
In late 2017, Owens was hired by Turning Point USA to the position of director of urban engagement. This hiring occurred shortly after allegations of racism began emerging at Turning Point. She continued working for the organization until May 2019.
Throughout this period, Owens appeared on fringe media sources such as InfoWars. These websites feature a number of conspiracy theories and far-right ideological discussion. In 2018, she began to distance herself from these appearances after becoming a guest host on Fox News.
Also during this time, Owens launched the Blexit movement. The Blexit movement is a social media campaign that was designed to encourage African Americans and other minorities to abandon the Democratic Party. This movement sought to have minorities register as Republicans. At the launch of the movement, Owens claimed that Kanye West had designed merchandise in support of the campaign. The following day, West denied having any involvement in Blexit and stated that he had been used in spreading messages he did not believe in.
Owens currently hosts The Candace Owens Show on PragerU’s YouTube channel. In April 2020, Owens announced that she intended to run for office. She said this would be in the US Senate, or for the role of governor. She stated that she would only run against an incumbent Democrat, but never against a Republican. As of now, she has not revealed which specific office she would run for, or even in which election cycle she would choose to begin her campaign.