Amid Omar Controversy, ‘Morning Joe’ Says Anti-Semitism Is Mainly a Right-Wing Problem

March 11th, 2019 11:39 AM

MSNBC's Morning Joe kicked off the week by discussing President Trump's reaction to the controversy surrounding Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar and how House Democrats have responded to her dual loyalty comments. Co-host Joe Scarborough asked Jake Sherman of Politico if Trump, as part of his 2020 re-elcection campaign, would, "Continue to paint Democrats as the anti-Jewish party, despite his own checkered past."

Sherman agreed, saying that Omar has provided Republicans an opportunity that they have been seeking for years: a chance to show how the Democratic Party has drifted away from Israel in recent years coupled with a resolution "that was a bit too light for their liking." Sherman described the controversy as "a convenient punching bag" and that Trump is putting "one of the first Muslim females in Congress... on a pedestal in a sense and then knocking her down and saying she's emblematic of all Democrats, which is obviously not the case."

Before turning to New York Times correspondent Nick Confessore, Scarborough went into his usual list of purported anti-Semitic controversies involving Republicans. He again falsely accused Kevin McCarthy of warning about "Jew money" in the lead up to 2018 in attacks on George Soros, Tom Steyer, and Michael Bloomberg and went after Rep. Jim Jordan for replacing the 'S' in Steyer with a dollar sign, something "he's never done with a gentile." Tom Steyer is an Episcopalian.

Scarborough likes to say that Trump is a chronic liar, but has spent the better part of the last month lying about Kevin McCarthy's tweets warning of progressive money. He then led Confessore with more of a statement than a question, "Again, if we want to add up anti-Semitic tropes, Nick, Republicans, they're going to win this one by a landslide."



Confessore began by adding to Scarborough's list, reminding the morning show co-host of David Duke's support for Trump and Trump refusing to distance himself by saying he was unfamiliar with Duke's views. Confessore, and the media at large, have not bothered to take notice of Duke saying that Omar, "By Defiance to Z.O.G. Ilhan Omar is NOW the most important Member of the US Congress!" Confessore declared that, "If there is a repository for anti-Jewish sentiments in politics today, it is chiefly on the right." Confessore's statement that anti-Semitism is "chiefly on the right" may be contrasted with an article from his own employer in October entitled, "Is It Safe to be Jewish in New York?," where the commanding officer of the Hate Crimes task force told Ginia Bellafante in the previous 22 months, "not one person caught or identified as the aggressor in an anti-Semitic hate crime has been associated with a far right-wing group."

Confessore stated that the real fight the country is in right now is "over the current rulers of Israel, the current President [sic] of Israel, Netanyahu, it's mostly about him." Except, it isn't. Omar's comments were about hypnosis, money and influence, and dual loyalty, which would be anti-Semitic whether Netanyahu was prime minister or whether Israel gets a new centrist or left-wing prime minister after April 9 who refuses to do what Omar wants.  

Scarborough and former Hillary Clinton operative Adrienne Elrod tried to end on a positive note for Democrats. "At least Democrats have Nancy Pelosi," to keep their freshmen in line, Scarborough said. Despite lambasting Democrats for cowardly hiding behind their "anti-hate resolution" on Friday, Scarborough on Monday declared that, "Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic leadership, man, they are shoulder to shoulder, strong, speaking out against anti-Semitism."

Elrod wanted to make clear that she was in no way condoning Omar's comments, but also argued that because there are more Democrats in Congress than there has been in recent years, that people, "are going to say things that may not be politically correct. We have a very diverse caucus." She went on to say that she had "a little bit of sympathy for these members" as their communities have been targeted by Trump both as President and during the campaign, but that she ultimately is not that worried as, "[Pelosi] can whip that caucus into shape like nobody else."

Therein lies the problem for Democrats. Democrats do have a diverse caucus and in an attempt to keep them all in line, they introduced an anti-hate resolution, meant to give Omar cover, while also claiming to rebuke her...again. If Pelosi is truly the best caucus herder the Democrats have, then Democrats can expect to be right back here not too long from now.

Here is the relevant:

MSNBC's Morning Joe

March 11, 2019

6:02 AM Eastern

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: We begin with President Trump pushing the bounds of political rhetoric even further this weekend. Reportedly telling a gathering of Republican donors on Friday night that Democrats hate Jewish people, something that stands in contrast to how Jewish-Americans vote and their broad representation in the Democratic Party compared to Republicans.


JOE SCARBOROUGH: Well here’s where we are and the question is Jake Sherman, is this what we’re going to see over the next year or so, if Donald Trump does in fact run for reelection? Is this a preview? Is he going to continue to paint Democrats as the anti-Jewish party, despite his own checkered past?

JAKE SHERMAN: Yeah, for sure. I mean, the Ilhan Omar controversy in which she has made comments that have been interpreted as anti-Semitic and she has apologized for one and Democrats took action last week to rebuke her lightly in a way that Republicans thought was a bit too light for their liking, they are trying to make the entire Democratic Party -- it's kind of one of these moments where Republicans behind the scenes have been saying for many years that the Democratic Party was drifting away from its previous staunch support of Israel and things of that nature and Republicans are saying it's finally coming home to roost. It's a convenient punching bag for the President quite obviously he is making one of the first Muslim females in Congress, he's putting her up on a pedestal in a sense and then knocking her down and saying she's emblematic of all Democrats, which is obviously not the case. Listen, I think "The New York Times" has a fascinating story this morning of Benjamin Netanyahu using Trump as the main centerpiece in his campaign in Israel and we’ll get a fresh test of what people think of President Trump when it comes to Israel’s elections, which are April 9 and Netanyahu struggling as he almost never has before to retain the prime minister role. I think we'll perhaps get an indirect test of what Donald Trump said, which is he would be at 98% in polls in Israel were he to run for prime minister.

SCARBOROUGH: Again, we've said this before but Nick Confessore, you actually look at the record and, again, it's pretty remarkable that Donald Trump, the Donald Trump of Charlottesville, who talked about moral equivalency between neo-Nazis and anti-fascists. The Donald Trump that put a star of David over Hillary Clinton's face talking about how Jewish money was going to buy the presidency, the Trump Republican Party of Kevin McCarthy, Kevin McCarthy of course putting a tweet out before the election in 2018 basically saying that it's the Jews, the Jew money that's going to take over and we cannot allow Soros, Steyer, and Bloomberg to buy, in all caps, this election. Of course, Kevin McCarthy selects three Jews and George Soros’ name. It’s an old, tired anti-Semitic trope. Let me continue, of course Jim Jordan, I ain’t reading anything, I could go on all day. Jim Jordan talking about Tom Steyer just last week and, oh my gosh, he's never done this with a gentile, but he replaces the ‘S’ in Steyer with a dollar sign…


SCARBOROUGH: Jim, you figure, we can’t figure out you’re doing. Again, if we want to add up anti-Semitic tropes, Nick, Republicans, they’re going to win this one by a landslide.

NICK CONFESSORE: You can go further, Joe, back to the 2016 campaign when David Duke supported President Trump and President Trump was asked about it and refused to distance himself from David Duke and said he wasn’t familiar with David Duke’s views. If there is a repository for anti-Jewish sentiment in politics today, it is chiefly on the right, not only on the right, but If you talk to actual neo-Nazis, the thing you hear from them over and over again is Trump is making the ideas of the far-right and neo-Nazis more palatable in the mainstream and they see him as their guy in the mainstream way, the mainstream of American politics. There is plenty of anti-Semitism in the world and Omar has been dinged for her comments but it's ridiculous to say the left is the repository for all of these things. What we’re actually seeing here is a fight over the current rulers of Israel, the current President of Israel [sic], Netanyahu, it's mostly about him.


SCARBOROUGH: By the way, this is not new. We caused so much problem, in 1994 we came in and one of us was saying something stupid every day. When we weren't saying something stupid, Newt Gingrich was saying something stupid. At least Democrats have Nancy Pelosi. But, you know, just this weekend AOC calls FDR racist, calls the New Deal racist. You have a different anti-Semitic remark coming every week. Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic leadership, man, they are shoulder to shoulder, strong, speaking out against that anti-Semitism. I'm just curious, though, what's their next play? What's their next act moving forward if this continues?

ADRIENNE ELROD: Well, part of the problem, Joe as you know, when you have more Democrats in Congress, there are more people in the party who are going to say things that may not be politically correct. We have a very diverse caucus. I'm not going to stand here and defend some of the comments by AOC and some of the other members, but at the same time, these are women who have their own opinions and they have grown up in an age in politics where they -- and they were largely elected, by the way, to speak their mind. I'm certainly not defending that but they have earned the right to go out there and say what they believe. I thinks it's also important to note, some of these members are representing communities in their districts that have been large targets by Donald Trump. They're going to Washington showing “we're angry, we're here to represent constituents who have been essentially persecuted by Donald Trump since he's been in office and since frankly, he’s been has running for President.” I have a little bit of a sympathy for these members coming in with a little bit more of a hard edge. But at the same time this is why we have Leader Pelosi. She can whip that caucus into shape like nobody else and I cannot imagine anybody else being the Speaker right now who can really try to unify her caucus around some of these issues.