“Thank god that chapter is over,” he told me Wednesday. “I haven’t been on social media for months really. I have kept my mouth shut besides my little video from two months ago, and now I can finally talk openly and honestly and that feels really good.”
It was fitting that we met in a Starbucks given how many of the viral, screeching rants Christian is best known for feature him sipping from an iced venti caffeinated drink in one of the coffee chain’s drive-thrus. (His coffee order — a triple espresso over ice in a venti cup with two pumps of vanilla and pumpkin cream cold foam — took the barista at least five minutes to prepare.)
From the get-go of his career as an influencer, Christian used these videos to expertly weaponize — and thus capitalize on — his identity and its seeming contradictions: a young Black man who first gained prominence on social media by speaking out in viral rants against the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020; an effeminate man who says he’s attracted to other men but refuses to identify as gay, lest he seem liberal, and who rails against the need for a Pride Month. Conservatives would hold him up as a star. Liberals would loathe him, mock him, and turn him into memes. They would all duet him on TikTok, increasing his notoriety and exposure.
Being contrarian was the point. It felt punkish to reject what might traditionally be politically expected of him as a young same-sex-attracted Black man and instead be so evidently red-pilled. “It’s totally countercultural,” he told New York magazine of his politics in March last year.
And it was making him a star: More than half a million followers on Instagram (his preferred app) and another 566,000 on Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok combined. He dreamed of hosting a Wendy Williams–esque talk show, he told New York mag, but he could first easily springboard into a paid contributor role on Fox News. Who better than to make liberals lose their minds on Tucker Carlson each night? Being the son of a senator might help add some gravitas to his screeds.
But Christian said he feared that his dad’s decision to run for office would actually jeopardize his efforts to build a career, as well as their complicated relationship. After the domestic violence and ugly divorce when Christian was a toddler, he had felt abandoned by his father, but Herschel was still a presence in his life. “Childhood was really rough with him. It almost might have been better in my circumstance, if he was not present at all, but he was around,” Christian said.
Still, things between them improved somewhat in recent years. Herschel dedicated his 2008 memoir to Christian, writing, “To my son, Christian Walker, I love you. Thank you for helping me to mature as a man and a father.” The pair bonded in 2020 during the election, even attending the Republican National Convention together.
“It definitely wasn’t tumultuous,” Christian said of their recent relationship. “If anything, it was in a good position.”
But when Republican then-senator Kelly Loeffler lost the January 2021 Georgia runoff to Warnock, almost immediately, Christian said, the calls began imploring his father to run. Loudest of all was Trump, who had known Herschel since the 1980s when he was a member of a United States Football League team, the New Jersey Generals, that the business mogul owned.
Despite the entreaties from influential political figures, Christian said everyone close to Herschel pleaded with him not to run. Christian doubted the intentions of those urging Herschel to jump in the race, and he didn’t believe his dad could make inroads with Black voters by virtue of simply being Black himself.
Worst of all, he feared what the media would uncover. “Please do not do this to us and please don’t do this yourself,” Christian said he told his father. “It’s a nasty thing. You have a good reputation. Nobody really knows about your past.”
Part of that past included Herschel, a critic of absentee fathers, fathering three other children in addition to Christian whom he had never fully spoken of publicly (these included a child with the woman who first told the Daily Beast that Herschel had paid for an abortion when he impregnated her on another occasion).
Christian said he only learned of his half-siblings, whom he says he still has never met, when he was a teenager. Once, Christian said, he found a picture on a gossip website of a woman holding a baby that Herschel was said to have fathered, only for his dad to deny it and tell him that his attorneys were taking care of it. Another time, he said he found a picture of his father’s girlfriend with a baby that Herschel again denied was his. According to Christian, it wasn’t until he found a text message from someone else wishing his dad a happy Father’s Day that he learned the truth. (Representatives for Walker’s campaign did not respond to requests for comment for this story.)
Christian believes that had his father been honest with voters when he began his campaign and framed his story as one of redemption, many people would likely have forgiven him. This was the strategy that Herschel assured his son he would take when he launched the campaign, according to Christian, but it was one that never actually came to be.
After speaking at Mar-a-Lago and praising his dad on Instagram when he first launched his bid in August 2021, Christian drifted away from the campaign. Sharp observers may have noticed he didn’t post about it or appear at rallies, despite what Christian said were pleas from the campaign to do so.
Soon, Christian was disgusted that a 2008 interview his mother had given about the domestic violence she endured had been repurposed into an attack ad. Then he was angered when news of his half-siblings was finally reported in the press. And then, finally, the abortion story dropped.
“It had been lie after lie after lie at the expense of our family, so this was just the final straw,” he said. “You just lie about it and you smear the woman. I feel like I sound like a liberal right now — ‘smear the woman’ and all that — but that’s what happened.”
The Daily Beast even obtained a handwritten “get well” card that Herschel had signed for the woman, and still his father denied it. “I just lost it because … I knew that that was his handwriting. I wouldn’t expect anyone else to know, but I knew,” Christian said, “and that just made me deranged.”
Returning to his Miami apartment after a dinner with friends the night the story was published, Christian put on his pajamas, opened up his phone, and got ready to tweet.
Now, here was the final contrarian position he would take: the son who once appeared doting and a loyal conservative soldier, but who could now help to bring down his father.