Watch: CNN Guest Says Trump 'Radicalized So Many More People than ISIS'
Every piece I’ve written about GQ writer Julia Ioffe usually begins with some permutation of, “Julia Ioffe is no stranger to controversy.” I’ll freely admit this is totally accurate and woefully understated. It’s a bit like saying, “Vladimir Putin is no stranger to border incursions,” or “Celine Dion is no stranger to critical apathy from the indie rock community.”
Ioffe was the woman who got canned from Politico after she sorta-sarcastically implied that Donald Trump was sleeping with his daughter. She managed to land on her feet and has done pretty much everything she can to impugn the president, Republicans and their supporters in the most demagogic terms in the past few years.
After the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh this past weekend, Ioffe began to officially lose all semblance of not only objectivity but reality, instead directly blaming Trump and his supporters for the anti-Semitic mass murder.
“To all the well-meaning Gentiles telling me what to think and not (to) think about the synagogue shooting today: kindly shut up. Today is your day to be quiet,” Ioffe, who is Jewish, tweeted.
To all the well-meaning Gentiles telling me what to think and not go think about the synagogue shooting today: kindly shut up. Today is your day to be quiet.
— Julia Ioffe (@juliaioffe) October 27, 2018
Well, this certainly might not have been Ioffe’s best moment, but it certainly didn’t qualify as offensive. This escalated quickly:
And a word to my fellow American Jews: This president makes this possible. Here. Where you live. I hope the embassy move over there, where you don’t live was worth it.
— Julia Ioffe (@juliaioffe) October 27, 2018
Yes, that’s right — Trump caused the shooting in Pittsburgh (or at least made it possible), and the only reason Jews might vote for him is their dual loyalties to Israel and desire to see the U.S. embassy there moved to its capital.
This is so wrong on so many levels; not only does it say the president made Saturday’s attack possible, it brings up one of the most pernicious anti-Semitic libels there is — the idea that American Jews have dual loyalties to Israel.
These were not particularly well-reasoned or inoffensive tweets, which engendered surprise on my part when Ioffe was invited to appear on “The Lead” with Jake Tapper on Monday. Maybe she had regained her composure by then. Or maybe she said, “This president has radicalized so many more people than ISIS ever did.” One of the two.
(It was the latter.)
The only pushback for her remark came from panelist David Urban, who chastised Ioffe and Tapper.
“Jake, for you not to push back … for you not to push back that is irresponsible!” Urban said. “That’s irresponsible. For her to say the president of the United States has radicalized more people than ISIS is irresponsible.”
“Well, OK,” Tapper responded. “You disagree with it, and I’m bringing you in and Mona (Charen) in to contradict her.”
And nevertheless, Ioffe persisted.
“ISIS had like 10,000 members. I think the president has far more supporters who espouse an equally hateful ideology that dehumanizes other people,” she said.
The number of Islamic State group soldiers was reported to be 80,000 in 2014 — eight times more than Ioffe said — and was down to about 30,000 in August 2018, according to the U.N. They were known for drowning people alive in cages and using child soldiers, but clearly Trump fans are worse because they chant “lock her up.” Gotcha.
Oh, and then there’s the fact that Trump has been one of the most pro-Israel presidents of all time — not just in terms of moving the embassy to Jerusalem but also in standing up for the Jewish state. He’s given no quarter to anti-Semites at home, either, which is why two dozen scumsuckers still in the alt-right have turned the full capacity of their vitriol on the administration.
After 40 minutes, Tapper tried to have Ioffe apologize for her claim, which didn’t go quite as planned.
“I think I spoke in the heat of the moment. This has been a very emotional and personally painful time for me. I think I exaggerated, and I apologize for that,” she said, adding that it was “not factual.”
“But the point I was trying ham-fistedly to make, is that it’s not a coincidence that according to the ADL, the number of anti-Semitic attacks has jumped by nearly 60 percent in the first year that Donald Trump was in office,” Ioffe continued. “And it’s no coincidence because even though the main danger is home-grown, right-wing extremists, as many studies have pointed out, this administration has methodically shifted resources away from monitoring those people, away from trying to control those people and keep them from committing violence.”
Without arguing the merits of that, that’s not what you said. That’s not even close to what you said. You literally said Donald Trump had radicalized more people than the Islamic State group and — given the lack of qualifiers — in a similar way.
To her marginal credit, Ioffe apologized more unequivocally on Twitter.
I clarified and apologized on air, but I’ll say it again here. This has been a very emotional and painful time, but I absolutely should not have gone with such hyperbole on the air. I apologize.
— Julia Ioffe (@juliaioffe) October 29, 2018
I understand that this weekend was particularly traumatic for any Jewish person, especially Jewish-Americans. In that respect, I have nothing but sympathy for Ioffe. I would also hope, however, that if people feel so traumatized by an event that they cannot speak on it in a clear-headed manner, they would recuse themselves from speaking on it at all.
At some level, professionally, you have to have some level of self-knowledge, particularly when you’re angry. Since the Tree of Life attack, Ioffe has impugned Jewish Trump voters as disloyal Americans more concerned about Israel than their home country and Trump supporters as akin to Islamic State terrorists and then as complicit in other hate crimes. She doesn’t have to appear on television. Nobody would have faulted her if she said no. Her career wouldn’t have faced the most infinitesimal of setbacks. Once that camera was live, however, she bore complete responsibility for whatever came out of her mouth — no matter how upset she may have been.
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