The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Politico tells staff regarding anti-Semitic threats: ‘Your personal safety is of the utmost importance to us’

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump arrives for his election night rally at the New York Hilton Midtown in New York on Nov. 9. (Andrew Kelly/Reuters)
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Jane Eisner, the editor in chief of the Forward, told this blog several days before the Nov. 8 election: “I don’t think this is going away no matter what happens [on Election Day]. I think we’re going to have to work very hard as a society to understand why people resort in their anger and resentment to doing the things they do.”

She was talking about the most troubling trend in U.S. media today — the anti-Semitic attacks that have descended upon journalists covering Donald Trump. Most commonly expressed on Twitter, but also via email and other channels, the vile and threatening messages ballooned during Trump’s run through the Republican primaries and, true to Eisner’s prediction, haven’t gone away in light of his victory last week. To wit, New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman recently came home and found an orange envelope holding “three pages of anti-Semitism,” according to CNN.

Politico reporters haven’t been excluded from this utter barbarity. “I’m sure you’ve seen the recent reports and social media posts about journalists and media types receiving threatening correspondence. Several of our reporters and editors received similar letters,” notes Brad Dayspring, Politico’s vice president of communications, in response to an inquiry from the Erik Wemple Blog. The letters, notes Dayspring, are “in line with” what Haberman experienced.

This morning, Politico editor Carrie Budoff Brown and John Harris, publisher and editor in chief, sent a note to staff with this reassurance: “Over the last week, it’s been reported that some journalists and media executives have received threatening correspondence, both at their place of work and to their home. Your personal safety is of the utmost importance to us, and we thought you should be aware that POLITICO has procedures in place designed to protect our employees.”

More: “We regularly monitor our building security, we partner with a security firm that screens our physical mail, and the HR and IT departments have processes in place to review inappropriate electronic communications that our employees receive. In addition to our own internal safety protocols, we have a security consultant with extensive contacts within local and federal government who advises us and assists on specific incidents.” (Emphasis in original.)

An Anti-Defamation League report titled “Anti-Semitic Targeting of Journalists During the 2016 Presidential Campaign” found that between August 2015 and July 2016, 800 journalists were targeted in almost 20,000 anti-Semitic tweets. Ten of them got 83 percent of the Twitter nastiness. From whom were all these hate-tweets coming? “There is evidence that a considerable number of the anti-Semitic tweets targeting journalists originate with people identifying themselves as [Donald] Trump supporters, ‘conservatives’ or extreme right-wing elements,” notes the ADL.

In a May interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Trump fell short of condemning the anti-Semitic attacks — some of them from apparent Trump supporters — against Julia Ioffe, a reporter who’d profiled Melania Trump for GQ. “I don’t have a message to the fans. A woman wrote an article that’s inaccurate,” said Trump. After his triumph, however, he appeared on “60 Minutes” and had a message for supporters who have disparaged and threatened Latinos, Muslims and gays: “Stop it,” he said. A single verbal appeal on “60 Minutes,” of course, won’t squelch all the hatred and prejudice that have surged from the Trump movement. Perhaps our president-elect could use his Twitter account toward a good and mature end, by denouncing anti-Semitism precisely where it has taken root.