‘Critics say’ is an insufficient way to contextualize Trump’s false, offensive, and antisemitic calumny against Democratic Jews

There is so much wrong with what Donald Trump said on Monday about Jews – and Democratic Jews in particular – that I have a bit of sympathy for the political reporters who were supposed to synthesize it on deadline.

And yet, that’s no excuse for outsourcing the analysis to “critics” and “Democrats” and “Jewish leaders” rather than clearly explaining, in an institutional voice, the many ways in which what Trump said was offensive, false, and highly antisemitic.

“Any Jewish person that votes for Democrats hates their religion,” Trump said. “They hate everything about Israel, and they should be ashamed of themselves because Israel will be destroyed.”

Let’s unpack that a bit.

First of all, it’s obviously not true.

Secondly, Trump is basically telling American Jews they should have a loyalty to Israel that transcends domestic U.S. politics — an embrace of the antisemitic calumny that American Jews have a dual loyalty.

Thirdly, he’s actually attacking most American Jews, as the vast majority – about 70 percent – vote Democratic.

Fourthly, he treats Jews as a uniform group, which is racist stereotyping.

Fifthly, he denies the possibility that someone can be supportive of Israel generally, while being critical of the current Israeli government and its horrific attacks on Gazan civilians.

Sixthly, he lacks the moral authority to tell anyone what they should be ashamed of.

I could go on and on.

My point is that a racist and incendiary comment by a racist and incendiary presidential candidate requires more than stenography.

But that’s what we got in most mainstream news outlets.

In the New York Times, Chris Cameron led his story this way:

Former President Donald J. Trump accused Jews who vote for Democrats of hating their religion and Israel, reviving and escalating a claim he made as president that Jewish Democrats were disloyal.

He then followed that with five paragraphs of unrebutted Trump quotes. And when the pushback finally came, it was all delegated to others:

A White House spokesman described Mr. Trump’s comments as “vile and unhinged antisemitic rhetoric.”

“There is no justification for spreading toxic, false stereotypes that threaten fellow citizens,” said Andrew Bates, a deputy press secretary for Mr. Biden, adding that the Biden administration “will never give hate any safe harbor, including today.”

Jonathan Greenblatt, the chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League — a Jewish advocacy group — said that “accusing Jews of hating their religion because they might vote for a particular party is defamatory and patently false.”

There was only one paragraph of context in what you might call the reporter’s own voice:

Mr. Trump had received significant criticism for similar comments he made as president, when he repeatedly accused Jewish voters of disloyalty if they voted for Democrats. Those remarks, and Mr. Trump’s comments on Monday, evoke an antisemitic trope that Jews have a “dual loyalty” and are often more loyal to Israel than to their own countries.

But what is a “trope” anyway? Trope is not an accessible word.

A trope is basically a figure of speech. So saying something is an antisemitic trope is a euphemistic way of saying: It’s antisemitic.

I’d rewrite that last part to say:

Those remarks are antisemitic because they carry with them the presumption that American Jews have a greater loyalty to Israel than to the United States. The accusation of dual loyalty has a long history of being used to scapegoat, harass, and vilify Jews.

Mariana Alfaro, writing in the Washington Post, similarly waited eight paragraphs before citing any kind of pushback, which came not in her own voice but from Senator Chuck Schumer, the Anti-Defamation League, and the White House.

She then quoted Trump’s campaign repeating his calumny

“President Trump is right — the Democrat Party has turned into a full-blown anti-Israel, anti-Semitic, pro-terrorist cabal,” Karoline Leavitt, the campaign’s national press secretary, said in a statement.

CNN’s Kate Sullivan at least put the critique in her lead:

Former President Donald Trump said in an interview aired Monday that any Jewish person who votes for Democrats “hates their religion” and hates “everything about Israel,” again playing into an antisemitic trope that Jewish Americans have dual loyalties to the US and to Israel.

Over at the Guardian, Adam Gabbatt properly put the critique before the statement, writing:

The White House has criticized Donald Trump for “vile and unhinged antisemitic rhetoric” after the former president claimed that Jewish people who vote for Democrats “hate Israel” and “hate their religion”.

And yet he, too, left the context entirely to the White House press secretary and Democratic members of Congress.

Credit goes to USA Today’s David Jackson and Marina Pitofsky for being more direct in their lead, and actually using the word “offensive”.

Former President Donald Trump again used an offensive stereotype about Jewish Americans, prompting immediate backlash from Jewish groups and leaders.

By contrast, the Associated Press’s Jill Colvin basically treated it like a jump ball:

Former President Donald Trump on Monday charged that Jews who vote for Democrats “hate Israel” and hate “their religion,” igniting a firestorm of criticism from the White House and Jewish leaders.

And at Axios, Andrew Solender’s report included, with remarkable understatement, the bullet point that

  • Trump has landed in hot water before for attacks on Jewish Democrats.

The fact remains that the mainstream American political media remains incapable of simply and plainly informing its readers that one of the nation’s two presidential candidates is a racist, an antisemite, and a liar.  The longer they fail to do so, the greater the disservice they do to their audience.


  1. THANK YOU for this. Every time I see that mealy-mouthed “critics” deflection it makes my blood boil.

    How about “rational people,” or “neutral observers,” or “non-partisan experts,” or even just “ordinary Americans” say…? And what are they afraid of, these corporate journalists? The orange loser can’t afford to sue them right now, since every bad lawyer in the country is currently already busy with one of his many court cases.

    As you point out, it’s CORPORATE media who are the culprits in minimizing the threats to our very most fundamental rights from a man who has no morals, no sense of decency, no understanding of democracy and governance, and no interest in learning anything about anything.

    Keep their feet to the fire!


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