Fox has come under fire from Jewish organizations following a Wednesday night segment on Fox Business Network’s Lou Dobbs Tonight in which Trump-boosting lawyer Joe diGenova seemingly trafficked in anti-Semitic tropes by accusing Jewish financier George Soros of controlling “very large parts” of the U.S. Department of State.
Speaking with host Lou Dobbs—who has a history of peddling Soros-based conspiracies—diGenova dismissed the impeachment testimony of senior diplomat George Kent by baselessly claiming he is part of an insidious Soros plot to take over Ukraine with the help of State and the FBI.
“Well, there’s no doubt that George Soros controls a very large part of the career foreign service of the United States State Department,” exclaimed diGenova, who is currently entangled in the Ukraine scandal. “He also controls the activities of FBI agents overseas who work for [non-governmental organizations]. That was very evident in Ukraine. And Kent was part of that. He was a very big protector of Soros.”
Soros "corrupted FBI officials, he corrupted foreign service officers,” the frequent Fox guest concluded. “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 business.”
The far-right lawyer’s remarks are extremely similar to comments made by Judicial Watch’s Chris Farrell last year during a Dobbs interview—comments that got Farrell banned from Fox programming. At the time, Farrell invoked the anti-Semitic “Zionist occupied government” conspiracy theory by claiming migrant caravans from Central America were being funded by the “Soros-occupied State Department.”
Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, took to Twitter on Thursday to call on Fox to hold to the same standards they used with Farrell.
“Invoking #Soros as controlling the State Dept, FBI, and Ukraine is trafficking in some of the worst anti-Semitic tropes,” he wrote. “@FoxNews won’t have Chris Farrell on for making similar remarks, and they should hold the same standard for @JoeDiGenova.”
Greenblatt also pointed to an ADL explainer on why many of the Soros conspiracy theories spread by the right are anti-Semitic dog whistles.
In an additional statement to the Daily Beast, Greenblatt said, “If Mr. DiGenova insists on spreading anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, there is absolutely no reason for Fox News to give him an open mic to do so. Mainstream news networks should never give a platform to those who spread hate.”
A spokesperson for J Street, a liberal Jewish advocacy group, told The Daily Beast that there was “no excuse” in providing diGenova a platform to push his “hateful” conspiracies.
"The fact that Fox News guests have repeatedly promulgated anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about George Soros and other wealthy Jewish people is dangerous and outrageous,” spokesman Logan Bayroff said in an email. “It's part of a trend of rising xenophobia in which far-right activists and their political allies demonize immigrants, Jews, Muslims and other vulnerable minority communities—a trend that has in turn fueled a surge of white supremacist violence. There can be no excuse for providing a regular platform for these hateful lies."
“George Soros is to the 21st Century what the Rothschilds were to the 20th Century: Jewish individuals who antisemitic conspiracy theorists seize upon and invoke as symbols of Jewish power,” Emily Mayer, co-founder of progressive American Jewish group IfNotNow, told The Daily Beast. “DiGenova’s comments aren’t new. We’ve heard them before on Fox News—not just from guests, but from hosts like Lou Dobbs himself and Laura Ingraham. It comes from sitting public officials, leaders like Kevin McCarthy, Chuck Grassley, and Donald Trump. And because of those who repeat vile tropes, antisemitic conspiracy theories about George Soros have made their way from the corners of far-right chatrooms into the political mainstream. We only have to look at Pittsburgh to see that the consequences are deadly.”
Halie Soifer, executive director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, added in a statement, “There is a deeply troubling pattern of Trump administration officials and allies trafficking in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and tropes, which has directly contributed to the emboldening of white nationalism and rise of anti-Semitism in America under Trump. Our organization is tracking this dangerous rise, and has no doubt that the conspiracy theories directed at Jews promulgated by Trump and his associates have made Jews in America less safe. We call on Fox News to condemn these remarks immediately.”
Soros’ philanthropic organization, Open Society Foundations, also sent an email to Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott about diGenova’s on-air remarks. Noting that it’s “bad enough” that Dobbs and other commentators “regularly engage in the most grotesque ant-Semitic slurs against Mr. Soros,” Open Society president Patrick Gaspard said diGenova’s evidence-free claim went “beyond rhetorical ugliness.”
“This is McCarthyite,” Gaspard continued while noting Farrell had been banned for similar remarks. “This situation demands no less. I request an on-air retraction, and request that you bar Mr. diGenova as a guest on your network. I believe you owe an apology to the State Department and the FBI as well.”
DiGenova, meanwhile, defended his on-air remarks by emailing The Daily Beast three columns by conservative columnist John Solomon, a Fox News contributor whose “reporting” is at the heart of Trumpworld’s Ukraine conspiracies. Solomon is a frequent guest on Fox’s pro-Trump opinion shows.
Besides regularly sharing Fox airtime with Solomon, diGenova also serves as the columnist’s personal lawyer and has previously reviewed his articles at The Hill before they were published.
Fox News did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether the network will continue to book diGenova for on-air gigs.