Anti-Semitism And The MRC: The Virus Spreads
The Media Research Center was as squishy on the anti-Semitism of Kyrie Irving and on Donald Trump's dining with anti-Semites Kanye West and Nick Fuentes as it was on Ye's anti-Semitism.
By Terry Krepel
The Media Research Center spent so much time complementing rapper Kanye West for his anti-abortion talking points that when Ye went anti-Semitic, it took days for the MRC to offer any meaningful criticism (but was still making excuses for him).
In the month before Donald Trump had a dinner with anti-Semites Kanye West and Nick Fuentes, the Media Research Center labored to protect Trump from allegations of being anti-Semitic over his criticism of non-right-wing American Jews for allegedly not being sufficiently supportive of Israel. When he first made the claim in October, Mark Finkelstein launched quickly into Trump Defense Mode in an Oct. 17 post:
Monday's Morning Joe launched quickly into Trump Attack Mode, bizarrely claiming Donald Trump put out a "dangerous" and "anti-Semitic screed" on his Truth Social account about American Jews and Israel.
Finkelstein followed up with more defense the next day:
This would be funny if it weren't so outrageous.
Finkelstein didn't explain any criticism of Israel is automatically anti-Semitic.
When Trump said pretty much the same thing a month later, it was Jason Cohen's turn to be the designated defender in a Nov. 22 post:
In the left’s latest effort to frame Donald Trump as an antisemite, HuffPost tried to spin his recent remarks at the Republican Jewish Coalition in a piece with the headline “Donald Trump Scolds Jews, Praises Evangelicals In Geopolitical Swipe.” Sounds terrible, right? But in reality, it was not at all. Huff Left out details about the speech and the response to it.
Actually, Trump has a record of invoking offensive Jewish stereotypes such as calling them good with money and shrewd negotiators, as well as telling Jews that Israel is "their country," which invokes another anti-Semitic trope, that of dual loyalty. Cohen's claim that Trump "has a lifelong record of being a friend to the Jewish people" linked to an article written by a pro-Trump organization called Jews Choose Trump -- hardly an objective source.
Cohen concluded by huffing: "When will the left ever learn to judge people by their actions, not words and tonality?" Weird how Cohen thinks words and tone don't matter when it's a right-winger spouting the offensive ones.
A few days after Cohen's post went live, Trump had his dinner with Ye and Fuentes. Cohen was among those MRCers who were mad -- not at Trump, of course, but that reasonable observers viewed this dinner as evidence Republicans have a certain comfort level with anti-Semitism. Mark Finkelstein, in a Nov. 27 post, was more mad that the silence of Republicans was being called out -- and that Fox News was the one doing it -- than he was about the dinner:
Guest-hosting Fox News Sunday, Jennifer Griffin suggested to Jonathan Swan that Donald Trump's dinner with Nick Fuentes had triggered something of a wave of criticism of the former president among prominent Republicans.
Finkelstein not only didn't criticize Trump's dinner, he didn't even explain that Fuentes is a white nationalist. He did acknowledge Fuentes' odiousness, however, in a post the next day:
Don Lemon has unwittingly let CNN's cat out of the bag. Guests aren't there to engage in an actual discussion. They're brought on to express a specific opinion. And if they try to stray from CNN's script, they will be shut down.
Finkelstein censored the fact that Khodorkovsky refused to explicitly condemn Trump for having dinner with West and Fuentes, making that appearance less successful than Finkelstein would have you believe.
A Nov. 28 post by Curtis Houck threw a fit that people were making logical conclusions about the Republican Party based on a dinner by the party's leader and the refusal of other Republicans to criticize it:
CNN’s Inside Politics host John King has long been seen as one of the more even-keeled CNN mainstays, but when he has an itch, he becomes just as partisan as the rest. Such was the case Monday when he and his panel used former President Trump’s brazen dining with virulent racists and anti-Semites Kanye West and Nick Fuentes and the GOP response as proof that the party is content with being an anti-Semitic party encouraging hate crimes.
Houck himself did not denounce Trump's dinner -- unless we're supposed to believe that calling it "brazen" was a criticism -- nor did he cite any Republicans who did, which would seem to prove King right despite all of Houck's whining.
Something similar is also missing from a Nov. 29 post by Jason Cohen complaining about similar logical conclusions:
Salon’s Amanda Marcotte is on to you, Republicans. She can see right inside your pasty white scalps and into your racist brains. She knows you’d be fine with Trump dining with white supremacists, as long as it did not hurt your election chances.
Funny, we recall that Cohen tried to justify West's anti-Semitism a month earlier, so it seems he doesn't actually believe anti-Semitism is as "imbecilic" as he claims. He also didn't actually criticize Trump over the dinner.
Another Nov. 29 post, by Kevin Tober, finally offered something approaching explicit criticism of Trump (albeit though noting that other Republicans have criticized him) while serving up the same familiar whine about Republicans being called out for tolerating anti-Semitism:
On MSNBC's low-rated show The 11th Hour, host Stephanie Ruhle during a segment on former President Donald Trump's dinner with white supremacist Nick Fuentes and anti-Semite and degenerate rapper Kanye West, Ruhle decided to smear the entire Republican Party by suggesting they are the party of racists and anti-Semites despite the fact that Republicans from all corners of the party have rightly condemned Trump for keeping bad company.
Tober then whined that "Not only did she fail to offer any evidence to back up her hateful smear of half the country, but she was defiant. When called out on Twitter shortly after she made those comments, she refused to apologize or retract what she said."He then posted an exchange between him and Ruhle in which he called her a "dunce" -- not the way to engender good faith and invite an enlightening dialogue. Ruhle knew Tober was a bad-faith hater, and she pithily dissed in response: "Thanks for tuning in Kev." He continued to rant at Ruhle, which she understandably ignored.
Also note that Tober is calling West a "degenerate rapper" -- which comes full circle to the insults the MRC hurled at West before he struck up a bromance with Trump and started spouting right-wing anti-abortion rhetoric, which the MRC loved.
Finkelstein returned for yet another post on the subject -- not to actually criticize Trump himself, of course, but to mock "Morning Joe" co-host Mika Brzezinski for grudgingly acknowledging that Trump's former vice president, Mike Pence, criticized Trump.
Kyrie Irving's anti-Semitism
As with Kanye West, the MRC hated NBA star Kyrie Irving before it loved him. It was, however, for a much briefer time than it hated Ye: The only early criticism of Irving it made was in a June 2020 post by Jay Maxson complaining that Irving was among NBA players considering boycotting the rest of the 2020 season (which would eventually be played in a bubble in Florida to protect against COVID infections) over social justice concerns following the death of George Floyd.
So when Irving indulged in Kanye-esque anti-Semitism by posting a link to an anti-Semitic film on his Instagram account, then wouldn't apologize until after the NBA suspended him, he had built up enough anti-vaxx goodwill at the MRC that it came to his defense instead of criticizing his anti-Semitism. A Nov. 10 post by Clay Waters whined that the New York Times reported on both Irving's and West's anti-Semitism and that they were being "blamed on Trump and Republicans." Waters did at least call the anti-Semitism "rancid" -- which is the only word of criticism the MRC has expressed toward Irving's anti-Semitism in the days immediately after the incident. (Just like with Kanye.)
The next day, however, Maxson wouldn't criticize Irving at all, instead going into full whataboutism mode:
On Thursday, Nike co-founder Phil Knight said the Swoosh is done with Brooklyn Nets’ Kyrie Irving because the star guard “stepped over the line” by posting a social media link to an anti-Semitic movie. Boston Celtics’ all-star Jaylen Brown was having none of this, as he tagged Nike for hypocrisy over the issue of China.
Speaking of meaningless lip service, the MRC used to criticize Elon Musk for his close ties to China -- until he started spouting right-wing rhetoric and got interested in buying Twitter.
It took both Jason Cohen -- again, the guy who wrote a post that tried so hard to justify Kanye's anti-Semitism that the MRC eventually deleted it -- and Matt Philbin to write a Nov. 17 post that played whataboutism with both Irving's and Ye's anti-Semitism:
Say what you want about Kanye West and Kyrie Irving their antisemitism doesn’t come with a body count. Then there’s Al Sharpton.
At no point do Cohen and Philbin actually condemn Irving's or Ye's anti-Semitism -- they simply argue it wasn't allegedly as bad as Sharpton's.
It seems that Cohen and Philbin only want to cancel anti-Semites when its convenient to their right-wing agenda -- and Irving and Kanye have been too convenient to their agenda for these two to offer even the slightest criticism of their anti-Semitism, let alone go into cancel mode.
Houck again whined about this in a Nov. 30 post:
Is there any difference between John Dickerson and Joy Reid? It’s a worthwhile question as Dickerson and the CBS Mornings co-hosts eagerly used former President Trump’s idiotic dinner with a trio of white nationalists (with one of them also being a Holocaust denier) to tar and feather the party Wednesday as one that trumpets white nationalism and “normalizes” anti-Semites having a home in the GOP, with violent rioting being “legitimate political discourse.”
Beyond calling the dinner "dumb" (in the headline) and "idiotic," Houck offered no actual criticism of Trump himself; to the contrary, he complained that Dickerson "falsely claimed Trump has 'never condemned white supremacy' or 'Nazis,'" insisting that "A simple search of the Trump White House website and his Twitter account ... would disprove that." None of which, by the way, contradicts the fact that Trump willingly had dinner with two rabid anti-Semites.
While Jeffrey Lord admitted the dinner was an issue in his Dec. 3 column, he spent much of it cheering a right-wing commentator playing whataboutism over it:
Well, bravo. Over there at Newsmax, Chris Salcedo, the host of "The Chris Salcedo Show", nailed it exactly when covering the dust-up over the Trump-Kanye West dinner that, unknown to Trump, would include decided anti-Semite Nick Fuentes.
One of the examples cited was "neo-Nazi activist Richard Spencer, the latter who endorsed Biden for president." In fact, he was simply trolling to get attention -- and Salcedo and Lord fell for it. Lord then insisted that Trump, "who has a Jewish daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren, successfully negotiated the Abraham Accords, became the first president to visit the 'Wailing Wall' in Jerusalem and moved the US Embassy to Jerusalem," couldn't possibly be anti-Semitic -- but he ignored Trump's frequent invocation of anti-Semitic stereotypes.