Twitter fuming after CNN puts neo-Nazi statement ‘if Jews are people’ on screen

© Russell Boyce
CNN has apologized after suffering backlash from viewers on social media over a chyron that read “Alt-right founder questions if Jews are people,” used during a segment discussing the group’s support for President-elect Donald Trump.

During Monday’s showing of The Lead with Jake Tapper, substitute host Jim Sciutto spoke with two guests about Richard Spencer, president of the National Policy Institute who is considered to be the leader of the "Alt-right," a movement accused of being America’s neo-Nazis.

Over the weekend, Spencer – an outspoken supporter of Donald Trump – spoke at a NPI conference in Washington, DC. Discussing the mainstream media, he blasted the political commentators who gave Trump little or no chance of winning the election.

“Indeed one wonders if these people are people at all, or instead soulless golem animated by some dark power to repeat whatever talking point John Oliver stated the night before,” Spencer said, specifically referring to “Republican strategists and the political consultants snarking at us every night on NBC.”

The Golem is a creature from a medieval Jewish folk tale, made of clay and conjured into life to protect the Jews from persecution.

During the discussion on CNN, Sciutto quoted these particular words of Spencer, describing them as “hate-filled garbage” against Jews, while the chyron at the bottom of the screen read: “Alt-right founder questions if Jews are people.”

“It was poor judgment and we very much regret it and apologize,” CNN said a statement on Tuesday.

The audience immediately poured on Twitter to voice their reactions over the caption.

Some took it with a healthy bit of irony…

But others were outraged beyond measure.

Some, however, pointed out that the actual quote targeted the media and political commentators, not the Jewish people.

Jake Tapper, the show’s main anchor, quickly commented on the chyron, calling it “unacceptable” and “abhorrent.” His words failed to reassure some viewers, however.

Details of Spencer's meeting – where he was not the only one who expressed controversial views, and people in the audience gave Nazi salutes and chanted “Heil Trump!” – also sparked condemnation from viewers. Many called for CNN and others to drop the politically correct term “alt-right” and call Spencer’s movement “what it is – Nazis.” 

Spencer’s alt-right (Alternative Right) movement is a diverse assortment of Americans who identify as right-wingers but consider themselves opposed to mainstream American conservatism mostly due to its “liberal” tendencies. Many of its views are well known – for instance, that President Obama is of foreign birth, and that undocumented Hispanic immigrants, even their US-born children, should be deported.