Breitbart News’ hiring of disgraced broadcaster Curt Schilling for an online radio show is drawing criticism from Jewish leaders who contend his history of anti-Semitic and offensive commentary should disqualify him from the job.
Schilling is a former baseball star who was fired from ESPN in April after he shared an anti-transgender image on Facebook. He had previously been suspended from the network for comparing Muslims to Nazis on Twitter.
In other social media postings, Schilling has repeatedly demonized Muslims as killers, shared a picture calling Hillary Clinton a drunk murderer, and suggested civil rights leaders like Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) aren't patriotic.
Schilling, who plans to run for the Senate in Massachusetts as a Republican, recently drew criticism for asking CNN anchor Jake Tapper to explain how “as a person who is practicing the Jewish faith … people of Jewish faith can back the Democratic Party” given that the party has supposedly been “so clearly anti-Jewish Israel.” Tapper responded that while he doesn’t “speak for Jews,” he believes that Jewish Americans prioritize what they see as the interests of their own country over those of Israel.
Rabbi Jack Moline, president of Interfaith Alliance, called his remarks “tone-deaf.”
“Curt Schilling may have been a major league pitcher, but he’s a bush league commentator,” Moline said. “His tone-deaf remarks about Jewish Americans are just the latest in a long line of offensive statements that call into question his judgment and values. His Facebook page alone, where he has compared Muslims to Nazis and praised the Confederacy, renders him unfit for public office. Sadly we should expect no better from Schilling after he joins on with Breitbart – an outlet that wears its bigotry as a badge of honor.”
Ben Shnider, national political director of J Street, said the only way Schilling could get on the air now is through discredited groups like Breitbart.
“It’s clear that mainstream media outlets would not hire him,” Shnider said. “His comments to Jake Tapper were incredibly offensive. He has a long track record of incredibly offensive statements whether it’s about our community or other Americans. It’s simply unthinkable that any outlet would give him a mouthpiece.”
Stosh Cotler, CEO of Bend the Arc Jewish Action, echoed that view.
“Schilling, Breitbart, Breitbart's former-CEO-turned-Trump-campaign-manager Steve Bannon, and Trump himself all have two things in common: a love of Donald Trump and a willingness to employ bigoted statements and images about Muslims, Jews and members of the LGBTQ community that resonate with the alt-right,” she said in a statement. “The elevation of someone as blatantly bigoted and anti-Semitic as Schilling to a national media position is yet another side effect of the Trump campaign and a preview of what a Trump presidency could look like, and that is why Bend the Arc Jewish Action has been working so hard for over a year to oppose Trump's campaign.”
Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judiasm, also called out Schilling, saying, “Of course, Breitbart is free to hire whoever they would like. Curt Schilling has expressed simplistic, offensive and bigoted perspectives about Jews, Muslims, women, transgender people and civil rights activists.”
He added of Schilling’s recent comments to Jake Tapper (and his subsequent appearance on MSNBC to defend himself), “I disagree with Schilling’s analysis of the US-Israel relationship. American Jews, like every other religious group in our country, hold diverse political views. Many of us are focused on the ongoing work of racial justice, economic opportunity, religious freedom and pluralism, women’s rights, environmental protection and the full inclusion of transgender people in our religious and civic institutions. These are values and issues that many American Jews reflect on when they decide which candidates to support for elected office.”
Rabbi Jill Jacobs, executive director for T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, also criticized Schilling in a statement to Media Matters:
Curt Schilling’s remarks over the weekend to Jake Tapper on the political preferences of American Jews demonstrate a lack of awareness and understanding both of the issues that matter to our community, and of what it means to be pro-Israel. American Jews, as a whole, support public policies that protect those who are most vulnerable -- including racial, ethnic, and religious minorities; immigrants and refugees; women, and LGBT people -- as well as the long-term security of Israel, living in peace with its neighbors. Schilling has shown that he is out of his depth in the political arena and should stick to commentary on baseball.