Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Reserach Center was very reluctant to tag Kanye West as an anti-Semite or to admit that Donald Trump plays into anti-Semitic tropes (which wasn't helped by his dining with West and white supremacist Nick Fuentes). But while all that reluctance was going on, the MRC was more than happy to repeatedly attack Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar as anti-Semitic -- largely by portraying any criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic without explaining why the two must be conflated. We've noted how the MRC's Mark Finkelstein tried to distract from Trump's embrace of anti-Semitic tropes by reciting right-wing talking points about how "Omar has a long history of anti-Israel/antisemitic statements. There was that notorious tweet in which she wrote: 'Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.' Her most infamous bit of classic antisemitism came when, directly pointing the finger at AIPAC, Omar claimed US support for Israel is 'all about the Benjamins baby.'"
Indeed, Omar has been a longtime MRC target for building a narrative of anti-Semitism around her. In February 2022, Curtis Houck complained that Stephen Colbert called out Florida gov. Ron DeSantis for not quickly denouncing neo-Nazis but "ignored DeSantis emphasizing how anti-Semitism is a scourge inside the left as they’ve chosen to include open anti-Semites in the halls of Congress like Ilhan Omar (MN). In an April 2022 post, Matt Philbin sneered when Omar called out right-wing Christian travelers who inflicted their religion on their fellow plane passengers by holding a loud prayer session: "It’s not just Jews. Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn, doesn’t seem to like Christians much, either.
As the MRC was desperate to downplay the Kanye/Trump drama, it was quite eager to attack Omar's alleged anti-Semitism -- particularly as Republicans taking control of the House meant that they would purge designated Democratic enemies like Omar off committees. Nicholas Fondacaro raged in a Nov. 22 post when a co-host on "The View" defended her:
Up in arms that possible House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) promised to strip extremist Democrats of their committee assignments when/if he becomes speaker of the House, including Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, The View took to downplaying her rabid anti-Semitism on Tuesday and giving a full-throated defense of her anti-American comments comparing the United States to terrorist groups like Hamas and the Taliban.
Despite admitting that Omar had used disparaging tropes about the Jews and money, racist co-host Sunny Hostin whined that McCarthy’s repeated references to them were somehow harmful “tropes” against her. “She committed to learning more. We’ve never heard her say anything like that again,” she falsely declared, pointing to their midterm win percentages as a bizarre argument against McCarthy.
Hostin then tried to use her big brain to hint that McCarthy attacking Omar, a popular politician on the left, was somehow racist code for the Republican base:
So, I think it's very interesting that the people he chooses to attack are the very same people that he thinks his base wants attacked. That says something about where the Republican Party is today.
In recent months, co-host Sara Haines has become the only cast member willing to stand up to Hostin when she’s spewing nonsense. And she did it again in this instance as she called out how Omar had compared the U.S. and Israel to the terrorist organizations of Hamas and the Taliban.
Hostin and co-hosts Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar immediately jumped to Omar’s defense arguing that what she said was true “depending on who you talk to”:
The Omar remark to which he's referring is so entrenched on the right that Fondacaro didn't feel the need to explain or elaborate. It comes from a 2021 remark in which she noted that "we have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban"; she later clarified to note that “I was in no way equating terrorist organizations with democratic countries with well-established judicial systems."
Note that Fondacaro also does not dispute the accuracy of her statement but instead rushed to smear her as anti-Semitic for saying it; he also does not explain how it was "false" for Hostin to say Omar is "committed to learning more." (And, again, Fondacaro is maliciously smearing Hostin as a "racist" because he doesn't understand metaphors.)
Kevin Tober called Omar a "noted anti-Semite" in a Nov. 26 post, unironically linking to a 2019 NPR story on Omar's "criticism of Israel," thus again conflating any criticism of Israel to anti-Semitism (and blowing up the MRC's narrative about NPR being hopelessly biased). Jeffrey Lord gushed over McCarthy's plans in his column the same day:
The liberal media loved Pelosi for forcing the Republican Rep. [Marjorie Taylor] Greene off her committee assignments for, among other things, anti-Semitism. McCarthy warned of the precedent this would set, but he went unheeded.
Now McCarthy has turned the tables. Democrat Rep. Omar has been seriously accused -- as was Greene -- of anti-Semitism. Infamously Omar had written of AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, “It’s all about the Benjamins baby.” An uproar ensued. On another occasion Omar had cited what she called “unthinkable atrocities committed by the US, Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan and the Taliban.”
The MRC portrayed Greene as a victim because her anti-Semitism (Jewish space lasers, anyone?) and extremism was called out and even whined that she was being compared to Omar.
In his Dec. 3 column, Lord touted right-wing radio host Chris Salcedo playing whataboutism over Trump dining with Ye and Fuentes , highlihght that he delcared "Fuentes is every bit as anti-Semitic as 'AOC, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, and Louis Farrakhan are.' For Trump to dine with Ye and Fuentes, he said, was just as bad as if he 'broke bread with Ilhan Omar, the leaders of BLM, or Linda Sarsour, or any leftwing Jew hater.'"