Distraction? CNN Hosts Compare Omar’s Anti-Semitic Tweets to McCarthy Criticizing Soros

Despite the fact that CNN has covered the latest anti-Semitism from Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-MN) throughout the day on Monday, numerous analysts and hosts have tried to assist Omar by muddying the waters, suggesting House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is also anti-Semitic for a tweet last year criticizing the left-wing views of Michael Bloomberg, George Soros, and Tom Steyer.

So criticizing the policies of specific individuals as radical is on par with suggesting money from Jewish people controls politicians? Yeah, no. Not the same. CNNers such as Anderson Cooper, Amanda Carpenter, and Brian Stelter have condemned what they’ve seen as gaslighting by the President, but it’s doubtful they’ll be vocalizing or even thinking the same thing here.

 

 

Inside Politics host John King fretted about the “backlash” against Omar for suggesting politicians are pawns for Israel because they’ve received money from Jewish people and specifically the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

Here was King to his panelists:

In the case of Leader McCarthy, I just want to make clear he himself had to delete a tweet just a short weeks ago where said we can't allow Soros, Steyer, and Bloomberg to buy this election. So, as he now says there’s anti-Semitism on the Democratic side, he faced this himself not that long ago, so he should be careful how high he jumps up on the box.

Along with this strategy to muddy the waters instead of stopping then and there with Omar’s remarks being wrong, the Associated Press’s Elana Schor and The New York Times’s Carl Hulse invoked what they saw as a stalled Republican response to racist remarks from Congressman Steve King (R-IA) (click “expand”):

SCHOR: And this isn’t the first time that Congresswoman Omar has responded to criticism of the way she talks about the Israeli government by saying, hey, I’m willing to learn. I’m open to it and to Carl’s point, there may be some formalized counseling moment. But, it's clear that Republicans, even though let's just also be clear, they took a long time to condemn Steve King the way that they did. Everybody knew for years. 

HULSE: Several decades. 

SCHOR: Several decades, yeah. It's clear that Republicans are going to keep harping on this. 

CNN’s At This Hour host Bolduan also mentioned this McCarthy tweet in the same vein as Omar’s, insisting in the hour prior: “He’s asking the Speaker to action, but Kevin McCarthy himself — he has been accused of sending an anti-Semitic tweet just last year before the midterms. There’s a lot of dynamics about play here.”

Always willing to be a liberal partisans, weekday afternoon CNN Newsroom host Brooke Baldwin and The Atlantic Peter Beinart came to Omar’s defense by dubbing McCarthy as anti-Semitic and praising Omar for speaking out against supposedly poor Israeli treatment of Palestinians.

Beinart fretted that the Israeli “human rights abuses of Palestinians are really serious,” but it’s an “unfortunate” “tragedy” how “that’s been completely lost in this firestorm” seeing as how “I don’t think it was her intent” to be anti-Semitic.

The conversation later concluded by suggesting that the Soros criticism of McCarthy was an “anti-Semitic trope” that “everyone’s pointing out” (click “expand”):

BEINART: But when you talk about this particular issue, that anti-Semitism has been bound up with the idea that Jews buy governments, that Jews wield influence in these nefarious ways for literally centuries,, I think it's better to avoid the subject and make the point you want to make on the policy. Part of the tragedy here is that’s been completely lost in this firestorm. Talk about Palestinian rights. Don’t talk about Jews and money. 

BALDWIN: And then just broadening out the big picture, it was the, you know, house minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, who was calling her out on Twitter. Yet, now everyone’s pointing out, well, hang on a second. Look at what you tweeted and we have the graphic from — from before the midterm elections, right? Again, you know, the theme of Jewish people and money. Anti-Semitic trope. You also have congressman Steve king, the racist remarks he's made. The President over the weekend sparking backlash over Trail of tears and then you have this on Twitter doubling down on Twitter using the word savage. It's a lot of hate and racism and anti-Semitism out in the open at the moment and people would also say not just at the moment, but for years and years among politicians. 

BEINART: Right and the tragedy is that we need to be bound together in this. Jews need to fight Islamophobia as if it was anti-Semitism. Muslims need to fight anti-Semitism as if it was Islamophobia. We need to all be united in this struggle and Ilhan Omar has a really important role to play and unfortunately, she made a mistake that undermines her ability to play that role. I hope she comes back from it. 

No. No, we’re not, Brooke. It’s just you guys on the left trying to muddy the waters. Do better. Most people aren’t that stupid.

To see the relevant transcript from CNN’s Inside Politics on February 11, click “expand.”

CNN’s Inside Politics
February 11, 2019
12:52 p.m. Eastern [TEASE]

JOHN KING: Up next for us here, critics on both sides of the aisle say a freshman Congresswoman’s tweets are anti-Semitic. Now, some Democrats say Speaker Pelosi must act.

(....)

12:55 p.m. Eastern

KING: It's a bipartisan backlash today against the Democratic congresswoman for weekend tweets condemned as anti-Semitic. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has long been a critic of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and she backs a democratic boycott — an economic boycott of Israel The new scrutiny comes because she added, “all about the Benjamin's baby” in response to a tweet about Republican criticism of her views. Then she tweeted that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee was paying politicians to be pro-Israel. And now two Democratic members of the House who are Jewish, Congressman Josh Gottheimer and Congresswoman Elaine Luria, are demanding action from Speaker Nancy Pelosi, writing to her: “As Jewish members of congress, we're deeply alarmed from the recent rhetoric by certain members of our caucus. We hope our caucus will take strict action to address these issues in the coming days.” What will the caucus do in this case? Republicans are saying — she's a freshman congresswoman, a Somali-American — that she should be removed from the foreign affairs committee. Will the Democrats do that, or will that be giving Republicans the victory? 

ARIT JOHN: We saw Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy when he stripped Steve King of his committee assignments say that, you know, Republican act when our members step out of line and he called on Nancy Pelosi to act. Weeks have passed since then. Now, the — the controversy is rising to the level of her fellow Democrats calling on Nancy Pelosi to do something. So, it seems at this point that she may be — she may be prompted to discipline her in some way, to at least make a statement or comment saying, like, we don't approve of these sort of comments, but it's not clear what she exactly she’s going to do.

KING: Not clear. In the case of Leader McCarthy, I just want to make clear he himself had to delete a tweet just a short weeks ago where said we can't allow Soros, Steyer, and Bloomberg to buy this election. So, as he now says there’s anti-Semitism on the Democratic side, he faced this himself not that long ago, so he should be careful how high he jumps up on the box. But to your point about the committee assignments or what sanctions there would be, Elliot Engel is the chairman of the committee, he just put out a statement saying “anti-Semitism in any form is unacceptable and it's shocking to hear a Member of Congress invoke the anti-Semitic trope about Jewish money.” He goes onto say he hopes the committee will focus on policy. Nowhere here does he say anything she shouldn't be here. 

CARL HULSE: Jerry Nadler also put out a pretty tough statement on her. One thing, I think, when you have a really diverse caucus as they now have, this is the kind of conflicts you’re going to have, and Nancy Pelosi is going to have navigate and adjudicate them. This is a brand new member. I don't think that they'll take any severe action against her, but there’ll probably be some counseling to her or something along those lines. But, you know, this is — this is something that's going to be played out in the months ahead. 

KING: And it's playing out loud, it's playing out online. We’re going to show you some tweets. Just first Republican members. You just see whether it’s Senator Marco Rubio, Senator Cramer, Congressman Zeldin, Representative Cheney, Nikki Haley, who recently left as U.N. ambassador, who has political ambitions in the Republican Party, a lot of Republicans saying it's unacceptable. Nikki Haley saying it can’t be tolerate. Liz Cheney, again, she’s a leading Member of the House Republican leadership, she wants the congresswoman taken off the Foreign Affairs Committee. What’s interesting in this age of social media was an exchange with Chelsea Clinton. Chelsea Clinton was critical of the Congresswoman. The Congresswoman — she said: “Co-signed as an American. We should expect all elected officials, regardless of party, and all public figures to not traffic in anti-Semitism.” And Congresswoman said: “Chelsea - I would be happy to talk. We must call out smears from the GOP and their allies. And I believe we can do that without criticizing people for their faith. I look forward to building an inclusive movement [of] justice with you.” So, these things play out in the Capitol, but it is remarkable how, now, Chelsea Clinton and this playing out on social media.

ELANA SCHOR: And this isn’t the first time that Congresswoman Omar has responded to criticism of the way she talks about the Israeli government by saying, hey, I’m willing to learn. I’m open to it and to Carl’s point, there may be some formalized counseling moment. But, it's clear that Republicans, even though let's just also be clear, they took a long time to condemn Steve King the way that they did. Everybody knew for years. 

HULSE: Several decades. 

SCHOR: Several decades, yeah. It's clear that Republicans are going to keep harping on this. 

MICHAEL BENDER: And, you know, there is a difference between bringing another voice and a needed voice to congress and more inclusion and different — different cultures and different viewpoints, but it's another to sort of be throwing bombs here. I don't know if anyone plays the inside game better than Nancy Pelosi, so it’ll be interesting to see how she plays on this specific issue. 

KING: And to your — she has counseled many members of the past, to your point about that. If you know you have an issue and you legitimately want to clean it up, think before you tweet. Good advice for everybody in town. 


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