Politico ripped for 'anti-Semitic' illustration of Sanders, who is Jewish, with 'money tree'
The Friday cover of Politico Magazine is graced by the image of Bernie Sanders, the only Jewish candidate in the packed Democratic presidential race, standing against the backdrop of a tree with dollar bills instead of leaves and a luxury mansion. The article, titled 'The Secret of Bernie's Millions', contrasts Sanders' socialist inclinations with being "a three-home-owning millionaire with a net worth approaching at least $2 million."
Politico's Michael Kruse does not pull any punches in his review of Sanders' political career, with colorful passages like: "The champion of the underclass and castigator of 'the 1 percent' has found himself in the socioeconomic penthouse of his rhetorical bogeymen." He describes Sanders' 2016 presidential run, effectively hijacked by the Clinton camp and the Democratic National Committee (DNC), as "the most lucrative thing he's ever done."
It is not the bashing of their preferred candidate that sparked progressive activists' outrage, but the way the imagery used by Politico reinforced anti-Semitic stereotypes related to Jews and money.
In a now-deleted tweet, Politico wrote: "Bernie Sanders might still be cheap, but he's sure not poor," accompanying it with a photo of Sanders with two houses on his shoulders and one in his hand.
Another tweet, now redacted, read: "Bernie Sanders has become one of those rich people against which he has so unrelentingly railed," with an illustration showing Sanders flanked by a money tree.
MEDIA: When speaking of public figures we must be careful not to use racially insensitive tropes--except when talking about Bernie Sanders, then we can just crib straight from The Protocols of the Elders of Zion pic.twitter.com/nMKfzo8BBX— New York City DSA 🌹 (@nycDSA) May 24, 2019
AOC, who has emerged as the voice leading the backlash against Politico, asked the magazine to explain how "talking about how 'cheap' and rich he is" and photoshopping a money tree next to him was not an act of anti-Semitism.
"Or are they just letting this happen because he's a progressive politician they don't like?"
She pointed out that the establishment and media had been quick to disown Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) when she complained of the overreaching role the Israeli lobby plays in US politics.
Can @politico explain to us how photoshopping money trees next to the only Jewish candidate for president and talking about how “cheap” and rich he is *isn’t* antisemitic?Or are they just letting this happen because he’s a progressive politician they don’t like? pic.twitter.com/O9qvDBw4ib— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) May 25, 2019
"Look at how these accusations are selectively enforced on the left, esp when it's the *alt-right* actually committing antisemitic violence in the US," she tweeted.
Notice the people willing to explain this away, yet when Ilhan’s words are taken out of context, they are the 1st to jump on her.Look at how these accusations are selectively enforced on the left, esp when it’s the *alt-right* actually committing antisemitic violence in the US.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) May 25, 2019
Omar was ostracized by the Washington political establishment, including the leadership of both parties, accused of using an "anti-Semitic trope" with her remark that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) pays American politicians to champion Israel's interests. Omar was pressured into apologizing, but maintained that her criticism was directed at the Israeli government's policies and was not meant to feed into hatred against Jews. "Being opposed to Netanyahu and the occupation is not the same as being anti-Semitic," she insisted in March.
While Omar has faced a major backlash for her remark, Politico seems to be getting a pass, some pointed out on Twitter.
The Politico Bernie Sanders story uses antisemitic tropes. The first person to call it out? @bungarsargon, who blew the whistle on Ilhan Omar's tweets.You're not being held accountable for antisemitism because there's "a double standard." The only standard is don't be a bigot.— Ariel Sobel (@arielsobelle) May 26, 2019
"I find both Politico's illustration of the Sanders piece and Omar's comments about dual loyalty concerning. But to slam one as anti-Semitic while claiming the other was just 'taken out of context' reeks of bad faith," one commenter wrote.
Sanders' fellow Democrats, House Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, have so far been mum on the controversy.
ben shapiro, where art thounancy pelosi, our esteemed denouncer of all hate chuck schumer, man— Current Affairs (@curaffairs) May 24, 2019
Despite the widespread outcry, Politico did not apologize, instead making cosmetic changes to the wording of one tweet that now reads: "In a strict, bottom-line sense, he has become one of those rich people against whom he has so unrelentingly railed," and deleting the other tweet. The magazine said that its message just "needed more context."
For the record: This replaces a deleted tweet that needed more context. Our apologies.— POLITICO (@politico) May 25, 2019
Many were dissatisfied with the lack of repentance from Politico, which decided to keep the 'money tree' cover.
-Hey guys, it took 10 tries but I think we finally have a good tweet with no tropes for this article*looks at picture-Oh shit, well maybe a few more attempts are needed— Joe (@muntaba) May 25, 2019
Sanders' chief of staff, Ari Rabin-Havt, accused the magazine of anti-Semitism, arguing that what it put out in the end was not any "better."
Politico style book: “needed more context” = the previous tweet contained an anti Semitic trope.The current tweet contains a doctored photo of Bernie in front of a literal money tree and a house that is not his. Because that is better? https://t.co/T43RCVCokipic.twitter.com/N8LfxgbiID— Ari Rabin-Havt (@AriRabinHavt) May 25, 2019
As usual in Twitter wars, Ocasio-Cortez was also taken to task for her supposedly unconditional support of fellow freshman Democratic lawmakers, Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI).
You literally defend every single thing Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib have ever said.— Ashley Rae Goldenberg (@Communism_Kills) May 25, 2019
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