Right-wing media evoke McCarthyite red scare over Omarova nomination

Conservative media have revived the 1950s McCarthyite smear campaign with Biden’s nominee for comptroller of the currency, Saule Omarova. Drawing on Omarova’s birthplace in the then-USSR and her academic associations with the Moscow State University, where she matriculated, the right-wing has painted her as a Soviet communist.

Omarova has denounced communism and told the Financial Times about how her family was victimized by the Soviet regime, including her grandmother’s family, which, according Omarova, “was destroyed because they were educated Kazakhs who didn’t join the party.” Nevertheless, right-wing media chose to focus on one aspect of her personal history: Omarova attended the Moscow State University on a scholarship named after Soviet leader Vladmir Lenin and wrote a thesis on Marxist analysis.

Mainstream right-leaning papers like The Wall Street Journal have been linking her ideas on how to shape banking into a more equitable industry to her history in the USSR. In a Journal op-ed, "Comptroller of the Economy," the editorial board cherry-picked from a paper Omarova wrote last year -- titled “The People’s Ledger: How to Democratize Money and Finance the Economy” -- to paint her as someone clinging on to communist ideology. Citing Omarova's line from the paper that the ideas in it will "'end banking' as we know it," the Journal sought to slam her as a radical. However, as MSNBC points out, “That phrase is a play on another author’s book title, which Omarova makes clear in the footnote.” The Journal’s op-ed continued, “Thirty years later, she still believes the Soviet economic system was superior, and that U.S. banking should be remade in the Gosbank’s image.”

The bad faith understanding of Omarova’s views and policy proposals is clear within right-wing media, which are seeking to misrepresent and slander her for her progressive banking policies. Right-wing TV news has been rife with unfair and biased coverage of Omarova that seems to purposefully ignore the content of her ideas: 

  • One America News Network's Kara McKinney claimed on her show The Tipping Point that the Democrats were supporting “mass-murdering Soviet Union commies” with Omarova's nomination.
  • America’s Newsroom co-anchor Bill Hemmer repeated the Journal’s claim on Fox News that “Saule Omarova wants to abolish the bank she is being appointed to regulate,” noting that she was “educated in the former Soviet Union” and that she has “tweeted about the virtues of a communist system.”
  • Fox & Friends Weekend co-host Pete Hegseth noted that Omarova is a graduate of Moscow State University and that she “wrote a thesis there on Marxism, which they are trying to get unsealed but they haven't been able to read yet,” adding, “You have a comptroller of the currency who likes the USSR more.”
  • Fox News' Special Report anchor Bret Baier highlighted Omarova’s past, saying, “She has a history writing about Marxism, calling the banking industry she would regulate in her potential new job, we paraphrase here, the quintessential A-hole industry, and advocating for an end to banking as we know it.”
  • Fox News contributor James Freeman, an assistant editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page, called Omarova a “parody of a left-wing activist” who “wants to end banking as we know it.” 
  • Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich attacked Omarova’s “communist ideology” even though Omarova had said she does not subscribe to that belief earlier that day: “This isn’t just about necessarily her long 30-year history, where she grew up, but about her ideology, a Soviet communist-style central planning ideology, that she’d bring in to a powerful position in the Treasury Department.”
  • After Omarova’s hearing with the Senate Banking Committee, Fox anchor Martha MacCallum highlighted Omarova’s education and birthplace, noting, “Saule Omarova was born in the Soviet Union — then the Soviet Union. You can see her circled in this 1988 photo from Moscow State University, where she won a scholarship named after Vladimir Lenin and she wrote a paper on Marxism.”
  • Fox host Tucker Carlson called Omarova a “communist sympathizer.” 
  • OAN’s Stephanie Myers highlighted Omarova’s college thesis as a cause for GOP concern.

Right-wing blogs and online outlets also wrote headlines about Omarova’s past and repeatedly tried to tie her to communism. 

  • The Daily Wire: “Ahead Of Senate Hearing, Saule Omarova Still Hasn’t Given Her Karl Marx Thesis To Lawmakers.”
  • The Daily Wire: “Why Controversial Biden Nominee Saule Omarova Would Be Disastrous As A Key Treasury Official” (with a picture of a fist holding a hammer and sickle). 
  • The Daily Wire: “White House Reaffirms Support Of Nominee Who Pointed Out Alleged Gender Equality In Soviet Union.”
  • The Daily Wire: “Biden’s Banking Nominee Would Pursue Soviet Economics.” 
  • The Daily Wire: “Biden Nominee Who Praised Soviet Union’s Lack Of ‘Gender Pay Gap’ Hasn’t Turned Over Karl Marx Thesis To Senate.” 
  • The Daily Wire: “Biden Bank Regulator Nominee: ‘Say What You Will About Old USSR, There Was No Gender Pay Gap.’”
  • Daily Caller: “‘I Don’t Know Whether To Call You Professor Or Comrade’: John Kennedy Grills Biden’s ‘Marxist’ Nominee.”
  • Daily Caller: “Biden’s ‘Marxist’ Treasury Nominee Saule Omarova Wants To Bankrupt, ‘Starve’ Fossil Fuel Industry To Tackle Climate Change.”
  • Daily Caller: “Has Joe Biden Really Nominated A Marxist To Regulate Our Banks?” 
  • Daily Caller: “‘Quintessential A**hole Industry’: Biden Treasury Nominee Has Harsh Words For Financial Service Jobs.”
  • Daily Caller: “Biden’s Pick For Banking Regulator Once Praised Former Soviet Union For Having ‘No Gender Pay Gap.’”
  • Breitbart: “Carney: Don’t Fall For The Ludicrous Saule Omarova Cover-Up, She Is Too Dangerous To Confirm.” 
  • Breitbart: “41 State Banking Associations: Saule Omarova’s Confirmation Could ‘Jeopardize’ Economic Growth.” 
  • Breitbart: “Republicans to Reveal Biden Banking Nominee’s Radical Vision to Close Americans’ Bank Accounts.”
  • Breitbart: “Exclusive — Sen. Steve Daines: Biden Banking Regulator Nominee’s Support of ‘Communist Ideals’ Disqualifies Her.”
  • Breitbart: “Moscow University Scrubbed Marxism Thesis Authored by Biden Comptroller Pick.”
  • Gateway Pundit: “Biden’s Treasury Nominee to Regulate US Banking Is Open Marxist Who Joined Facebook Marxist Analysis Page in 2019.” 
  • Gateway Pundit: “Biden’s Pick for Comptroller of the Currency, Born and Raised in Communist USSR, Won’t Hand Over Her Thesis on Marxism Written When She Was in the USSR.”
  • National Review published an op-ed about Omarova titled “Biden’s Commissar” that called her a “Soviet sympathizer.”
  • Fox News published a piece headlined “Saule Omarova could be next Biden nominee to go down with Banking Committee Dems reluctant to support her” highlighting her “history writing about Marxism.”
  • Fox News: “Biden’s pick to regulate national banks received ‘Lenin’ award, praised USSR for gender equality.” 
  • The Washington Times: “The anti-American agenda of Biden’s nominee Saule Omarova.”
  • Red State published a cartoon under the headline “CODE RED: From Omarova With Love” that had her face on a Che Guevara-like T-shirt and a caption “Available in the Senate Democrats’ Gift Shop.”
Omarova’s face on a Che Guevara-like t-shirt that read, “Available in the Senate Democrats’ Gift Shop”