“This is McCarthyite,” wrote Open Society Foundations President Patrick Gaspard in a letter to Fox News chief executive Suzanne Scott. He requested an on-air retraction and the banning of diGenova from Fox air.
The letter alights on a bitter and ugly history. In October 2018, Chris Farrell of Judicial Watch suggested on “Lou Dobbs Tonight” that Soros, a Jewish billionaire philanthropist and Democratic donor, was somehow responsible for a large migrant caravan approaching the United States via Mexico. "A lot of these folks also have affiliates or are getting money from the Soros-occupied State Department and that is a great, great concern. We need to start cutting money — start cutting money there.” A Fox Business executive was forced to issue an apologetic statement: “We condemn the rhetoric by the guest on Lou Dobbs Tonight,” said Gary Schreier, Fox Business Network’s senior vice president of programming. "This episode was a repeat which has now been pulled from all future airings.” Farrell would no longer appear on Fox Business or Fox News, the network declared.
But perhaps the network’s most brazen and conspiratorial attack on Soros came Wednesday night, when host Lou Dobbs welcomed diGenova and Victoria Toensing to break down impeachment news. Toensing and diGenova are longtime Washington attorneys who frequent the program of Fox News host Sean Hannity and have done their level best to advance the argument that the real collusion in the 2016 presidential campaign took place between Democrats and Ukrainians against candidate Donald Trump. To further the intrigue, Toensing and diGenova have represented John Solomon, a former employee of the Hill who has written mortally punctured stories on Ukraine, President Trump, the Bidens and so on.
In his discussion with the pair of conservative lawyers, Dobbs mentioned George Kent, one of two government officials to testify in Wednesday’s House impeachment hearing. As deputy assistant secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, Kent is the senior State official overseeing Ukraine policy and has expressed misgivings about Trump’s maneuvers with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Dobbs said that Kent had tried to limit an investigation in Ukraine into an anti-corruption group supported by Soros. “This is a complicated deal here,” said Dobbs.
With that, diGenova was off:
Well, there’s no doubt that George Soros controls a very large part of the career Foreign Service at the United States State Department. He also controls the activities of FBI agents overseas who work for NGOs, work with NGOs. That was very evident in Ukraine. Kent was part of that. He was a very big protector of Soros. … The truth is George Soros had a daily opportunity to tell the State Department through Victoria Nuland what to do in Ukraine. And he ran it, Soros ran it. He corrupted FBI officials, he corrupted Foreign Service officers. And the bottom line is this: George Soros wants to run Ukraine and he’s doing everything he can, to use every lever of the United States government to make that happen — for business interests, not for good government.
Where did that come from? When asked to elaborate by the Erik Wemple Blog, diGenova cited the “work of the award winning journalist, John Solomon,” his client and the progenitor of flimsy, tendentious pieces that bear the veneer of good old-fashioned investigative journalism. In August, Solomon wrote an article titled “George Soros’s secret 2016 access to State exposes ‘big money’ hypocrisy of Democrats,” which cites emails showing that Soros’s people had contacted then-Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland about various matters, including the European Union’s migration policy. In a phone call, Soros told Nuland that he’d pass along a draft of an essay he was writing on migration for the New York Review of Books.
Solomon sums up: “Few people in the world could command the attention of one of America’s busiest, most influential diplomats for a pre-publication read of a column. Soros apparently was one of those few.” In a 2016 New York Review of Books essay, Soros advocated “surge” funding to deal with the European refugee crisis. “The refugee crisis poses an existential threat to Europe. It would be irresponsible to allow the EU to disintegrate without utilizing all the resources it has at its disposal,” wrote Soros.
In concluding his article, Solomon writes: “Whatever political persuasion you hold, Soros’s election-year contacts at State speak volumes about the fact that big-money access to those in power is a bipartisan phenomenon.”
From that premise, apparently, diGenova decided that Soros controlled the State Department, or at least a “very large” chunk of it. As Nadine Epstein writes in a short biography, Soros survived the Nazi occupation of Hungary — where he was born — and bolted to England in 1947, having experienced both Nazi and communist rule. Migration and refugee policy have been animating interests of Soros ever since. His Open Society Foundations has also funded government accountability efforts worldwide and has contributed 17 percent ($289,285) of Ukrainian anti-corruption group AntAC's funding through the end of 2018, according to the Wall Street Journal. In a CNN interview, Trump’s personal llawyer Rudy Giuliani, teller of far-fetched Ukrainian tales, said, “George Soros has a not-for-profit called AntAC.”
Biographical facts and the like, though, are scarcely necessary to diagnose diGenova’s outburst for what it is: Stripped-down anti-Semitism. Here’s a tweet from Jonathan Greenblatt of the Anti-Defamation League:
Invoking #Soros as controlling the State Dept, FBI, and Ukraine is trafficking in some of the worst anti-Semitic tropes. @FoxNews won’t have Chris Farrell on for making similar remarks, and they should hold the same standard for @JoeDiGenova. https://t.co/IbCQCdXZfL— Jonathan Greenblatt (@JGreenblattADL) November 14, 2019
In his letter to Scott, Gaspard — in addition to requesting a retraction and diGenova’s banning — also recommended an apology to the State Department and the FBI. “This is beyond rhetorical ugliness, beyond fiction, beyond ludicrous,” wrote Gaspard. "It’s patently untrue; it is not even possible. This is McCarthyite. On behalf of Mr. Soros, founder and chairman of the Open Society Foundations, which I lead, I ask you what attorney Joseph Welch asked of Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy, in one of the darkest chapters in this country’s history: “At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”
The Erik Wemple Blog has asked Fox News/Fox Business for a comment and has not heard back.
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