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  • “Hungry and cranky”: GOP candidate Seth Grossman’s bizarre defenses for why he shared white nationalist propaganda

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    According to GOP congressional candidate Seth Grossman, he shared a racist commentary piece because he got “duped by a clever racist piece"; was following the lead of "Allen West, a retired Black Army Commander"; didn’t actually click the link he shared; was upset at Black Lives Matter; wanted to “defend police”; and “was hungry and cranky” (among other reasons).  

    Grossman is a right-wing commentator and lawyer who is the Republican nominee for New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District. He also has a long history of making bigoted remarks.

    As Media Matters recently documented on July 9, Grossman promoted white nationalist propaganda, including a piece on a white nationalist website which claimed that Black people “are a threat to all who cross their paths, black and non-black alike.” On December 30, 2014, Grossman linked to the piece on one of his Facebook accounts and commented:

    Oy vay! What so many people, black, white and Hispanic, whisper to me privately but never dare say out loud publicly. Back in the Old Country, people were very careful about what they said for fear of retaliation. At one time, America was a free country and people were not afraid to express their true thoughts. Am just posting this as an individual and not on behalf of any organization.

    He also shared the piece on his personal Facebook page with an abbreviated version of the above commentary. Following Media Matters' report, the National Republican Congressional Committee subsequently withdrew its support for him.

    Grossman has been attempting to do damage control ever since. In his initial comments to Media Matters, he attempted to distance himself from the comments, claiming that he “never visited” the site that posted the openly racist piece about Black people (despite linking to and commenting on that piece) and doesn’t endorse its claims. He also said he got “the post from Alan (sic) West” (Allen West, a right-wing pundit and former Republican congressman, praised the piece on December 29, 2014).

    Grossman’s excuses since then have only gone further downhill. Here is a summary. 

    Grossman again blamed Allen West, writing that he was just "sharing a post from Allen West, a retired Black Army Commander” (Grossman's original Facebook posts did not mention West). 

    "These silly attacks are simply bizarre to both friend and foe who have known me for decades here in Atlantic County," Grossman said. "I've been an outspoken opponent of racism and anti-Semitism for decades -- everyone knows that. But what is just crazy is how the National Republican Party is freaking out over sharing a post from Allen West, a retired Black Army Commander,” declared Seth. [Grossman for Congress, 7/10/18]

    After claiming that Media Matters is “falsely attacking” him, Grossman smeared Media Matters by saying it caused the deaths of police officers. (Grossman provided no actual evidence to back his false claims.)

    “In 2014, the same Media Matters falsely attacking me, led the call to protest our police officers, leading to many of their deaths,” Grossman said. “Republican leaders in Washington, and career politicians like Jeff Van Drew, should apply the same standards to those whose false and hateful generalizations helped cause the deaths of 126 police officers in 2016.” [Grossman for Congress, 7/10/18]

    Grossman said he shared the white nationalist piece “to defend police.”

    [Facebook, 7/11/18]

    Grossman blamed Black Lives Matter.

    Grossman said that he posted the story because at the time the Black Lives Matter movement had created a climate of hostility toward police, portraying officers as “getting up every day looking for an unarmed teenaged black kid to murder.”

    Grossman said that climate of hostility led to an increase in shootings of police.

    “So the purpose of sharing that article was to show that there’s another side of the story,” Grossman said. “That many of the black teenagers, though unarmed, were very, very violent, and very, very dangerous, and that the police out in the street had to deal with some ugly situations.”

    The piece from American Renaissance doesn’t refer to Black Lives Matter protests or police shootings. [WHYY, 7/10/18]

    Grossman said he got “duped by a clever racist piece.”

    On Wednesday, Grossman reiterated that he was tricked into posting the article, because it was also shared by former Republican Rep. Allen West, who is black. "I got duped by a clever racist piece," he said. [The Star-Ledger, 7/12/18]

    Grossman “told an editorial writer that he was hungry and cranky.”

    He also told an editorial writer that he was hungry and cranky, the same excuse he used after an earlier video surfaced of him calling diversity "crap." [The Star-Ledger, 7/12/18]

    Grossman: "I want to make minorities more prosperous and independent, and you can't fix a problem without talking about it."

    He defended his record as a longtime attorney serving minority communities in Atlantic City and Pleasantville.

    "I want to make minorities more prosperous and independent, and you can't fix a problem without talking about it," he said. [WCAU, 7/12/18]

    Grossman: “If you look at each post and the news I was reacting to, it’s just reasonable commonsense comments."

    He said his path to victory is through Trump supporters and winning over the very minority voters disparaged in social media posts he has shared.

    "When you take two dozens posts out of maybe 6,000 posts or shares over a 10-year period, it looks inflammatory, which is why they do it," Grossman said. "But if you look at each post and the news I was reacting to, it’s just reasonable commonsense comments." [WCAU, 7/12/18]

    Update (7/16): During an appearance on NJTV, Grossman claimed of the piece: "It was a cleverly written, racist piece, like most clever propaganda. At the top it was saying all reasonable stuff, and then at the bottom, the part hardly anybody ever read, it had these racist generalizations." But the beginning of the piece was also extremely bigoted and contained numerous "racist generalizations."

  • A congressman who’s criticized Sinclair is up for re-election, and Sinclair’s chief political analyst is helping his challenger fundraise

    Blog ››› ››› PAM VOGEL

    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Sinclair Broadcast Group chief political analyst Boris Epshteyn is helping a Republican congressional candidate fundraise -- and she’s running against a Sinclair critic.

    On July 12, Epshteyn tweeted criticism of Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY)’s opening statement in the congressional hearing with FBI agent Peter Strzok, in which Nadler mentioned the ongoing family separation crisis at the Mexican border caused by Trump administration policies. In his criticism, Epshteyn also tagged Nadler’s Republican challenger in the 2018 midterm elections, Naomi Levin.

    Levin responded to the tweet with more criticism of Nadler and then shared a link to a donation page for her campaign -- and Epshteyn retweeted the link to his nearly 32,000 followers.

    Nadler has previously criticized Sinclair, signing onto a letter to Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley last fall demanding more information about the company’s pending acquisition of Tribune Media. Nadler was also one of 85 lawmakers who called for a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) investigation of Sinclair in 2004, when the broadcasting group planned to mandate that its stations air an anti-John Kerry documentary shortly before the presidential election.

    The acquisition, should it be approved by the Trump Department of Justice and FCC, would bring a Sinclair station (WPIX, which it is poised to buy from Tribune) to Nadler’s district, which covers parts of New York City, for the first time.

    Eric Hananoki contributed research to this post.

  • NRCC withdraws support for New Jersey congressional candidate and right-wing pundit Seth Grossman over bigoted remarks

    Media Matters and others documented numerous bigoted statements from the Republican

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    The National Republican Campaign Committee (NRCC) today withdrew its support for New Jersey congressional candidate Seth Grossman, a right-wing pundit who has repeatedly made bigoted remarks.

    Grossman is the Republican nominee for New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District. He is a lawyer who has also done stints as a radio host and newspaper columnist. Grossman received the NRCC’s backing on June 6 after he won his Republican primary contest (the Republican organization has since removed a statement about the endorsement from its website).

    As Politico’s Zach Montellaro reported, NRCC Chairman Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH) issued a statement today saying, in part: “Bigotry has no place in society -- let alone the U.S. House of Representatives. The NRCC withdraws our support of Seth Grossman and calls on him to reconsider his candidacy."

    The statement was released hours after Media Matters reported that Grossman promoted white nationalist propaganda. In December 2014, he endorsed an openly racist piece on the white nationalist website American Renaissance that claimed Black people “are different by almost any measure to all other people. They cannot reason as well. They cannot communicate as well. They cannot control their impulses as well. They are a threat to all who cross their paths, black and non-black alike.”

    In 2010, Grossman also promoted a piece on the white nationalist website VDare. In comments to Media Matters, Grossman distanced himself from those links and claimed that he hadn’t visited those sites (despite sharing links to and commenting on them).

    On June 11, American Bridge 21st Century PAC released a video of Grossman saying in April, “The whole idea of diversity is a bunch of crap and un-American.” (American Bridge founder David Brock is also the founder of Media Matters.)

    Media Matters also reported on June 12 that Grossman posted other bigoted and racist remarks about Black and Muslim people before running for Congress. Grossman claimed:

    • “Blacks were not enslaved by whites. They were enslaved by other blacks and then sold to whites. … I do know of many Africans who wish their ancestors had been taken to America as slaves.”
    • “Fifty years of welfare programs, public and college ‘education’, and media and Hollywood pop culture run by ‘progressive’ Democrats did far more long term damage to blacks in America than 230 years of slavery.”
    • “Democrats today constantly talk of wrongs done by some whites to some blacks more than a hundred years ago. The purpose is for blacks to blame whites for their problems instead of the liberal officials and policies that are truly responsible.”
    • “Islam has nothing in common with other modern world religions like Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, or Hinduism.”
    • "Islam is a cancer. The fact that it already infected a billion people is even more reason to fight it every way we can.”
    • “Why are we inviting thousands of Muslim immigrants to our towns and neighborhoods when we are in the middle of a war with Islam?” (Grossman similarly shared a graphic that attacked then-President Barack Obama for having “flooded our cities with Muslims.”)

    CNN’s Nathan McDermott, Andrew Kaczynski, and Chris Massie reported on June 22 that Grossman “has said diversity leads to Muslims killing Christians and that Kwanzaa is a fake holiday made by black racists to divide America,” among other remarks.

    As media outlets have reported, numerous Republican candidates for office have had a problematic relationship with white nationalism.

  • A GOP congressional candidate in California has been appearing on neo-Nazi podcasts

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    John Fitzgerald, an anti-Semite who is running as a Republican for California’s 11th Congressional District seat, has been appearing on neo-Nazi podcasts and falsely claiming that the Holocaust is a “lie.”

    Fitzgerald came in second with 23 percent of the total vote in the June 5 top-two primary and will face off against incumbent Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA) in the November election.

    Fitzgerald writes on his campaign site that the “911 attacks were used as the catalyst by Jewish elements within our Government and Israel’s, to implement the PNAC Doctrine (1999) which called for a 'catastrophic and catalyzing event-- like a new Pearl Harbor' to both galvanize support from the American people and to make regime changes” (italics in original) throughout the world. He also writes: “I hope all of you ask yourselves why JEWS are primarily behind the push of multiculturalism, diversity and inclusiveness throughout the United States, Europe and other once predominantly white nations of the world and WHY many of our politicians allowing them to do so has led to rape and crime epidemics in its aftermath.”

    The California Republican Party and the Republican Jewish Coalition released a statement in May condemning Fitzgerald and rejecting any support for him.

    Since advancing to the general election as a Republican, Fitzgerald has courted anti-Semitic media.

    He appeared on the June 23 edition of The Realist Report with host John Friend. Friend is a neo-Nazi who has said that the “Jews Did 9/11,” Adolf Hitler was “the greatest thing that's happened to Western civilization,” and the “alleged ‘Holocaust’ of 6 million Jews at the hands of Adolf Hitler and National Socialist Germany during WWII is one of the most egregious and outrageous falsehoods ever perpetrated.”

    During the interview, Fitzgerald complained about purported “Jewish control and supremacy” and praised Friend for claiming that Israel was behind the 9/11 attacks. Fitzgerald also said he’s dedicated to “exposing the truth about the Holocaust and how it’s an absolute fabricated lie.”

    Fitzgerald ran for Congress as a Democrat in the 2010 and 2012 primaries but got little traction, gaining just 15 percent and 7 percent of the vote, respectively. He said on Friend's program that though he ran as a Democrat in those elections, “I wasn’t really a Democrat. But I was just trying to get in the system, and so I did so.”

    Fitzgerald also appeared on the June 28 edition of The Andrew Carrington Hitchcock Show. Hitchcock has lionized Hitler and written numerous anti-Semitic screeds.

    During that program, Fitzgerald said, “I’ve really gone on an extreme journey from the standard material that everybody believed to what is considered a very taboo subject, taking on the entire Holocaust narrative and realizing that everything we’ve been told about the Holocaust is a lie. So my entire campaign, for the most part, is about exposing this lie.”

    Media outlets, for their part, have reported on similar candidates who are running for office across the country, including neo-Nazi and Illinois Republican U.S. congressional candidate Arthur Jones; white supremacist and Republican North Carolina General Assembly candidate Russell Walker; neo-Nazi and unsuccessful California Republican U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Little; and anti-Semite and Wisconsin Republican U.S. congressional candidate Paul Nehlen.

    Some media have also documented the racist rhetoric pushed by candidates including Rep. Steve King (R-IA), Prince William Board of County Supervisors at-large Chairman Corey Stewart (R-VA), and Republican commentator Seth Grossman of New Jersey.

  • Sean Hannity will campaign with Reps. Ron DeSantis and Matt Gaetz

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Fox News host Sean Hannity is hitting the campaign trail to support gubernatorial candidate Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who is seeking re-election.

    Hannity is a pro-Trump propagandist who has a long history of pushing smears and conspiracy theories. He reacted to the shooting at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, MD, yesterday by blaming Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), stating: "I've been saying now for days that something horrible was going to happen because of the rhetoric. Really, Maxine?"

    The right-wing host is scheduled to do three campaign events on July 2 with DeSantis and Gaetz, who is a “special guest.” Tickets for the events are free.

    Both DeSantis and Gaetz are frequent guests on Fox News and have integrated the network into their respective campaigns.

    Gaetz posted a June 27 promotional video for one of the stops that featured Hannity praising Gaetz on his Fox News program. The video was paid for by Gaetz’s congressional campaign. In the past, Fox News objected to a political campaign that used network footage in an advertisement. (Update: The Gaetz campaign has removed the video from its Facebook post. Media Matters downloaded the video before this piece went live; the video can be found here.

    DeSantis announced that he was running for governor during a January episode of Fox & Friends. He also mentions in the first paragraph of the biography on his campaign website that he is endorsed by “Fox News’ Sean Hannity, and radio host Mark Levin” (who is also a Fox News host).

    Numerous Fox News hosts and contributors have been doing campaign fundraisers for various Republican candidates and organizations over the years, as Media Matters has documented.

    Among other pro-Republican activities, Hannity starred in a 2016 campaign ad for President Donald Trump’s campaign; a Fox News spokesperson later claimed: “We had no knowledge that Sean Hannity was participating in this and he will not be doing anything along these lines for the remainder of the election.” He also keynoted a 2010 fundraiser for the National Republican Congressional Committee that “raised over $7 million.”

    Last year, Fox News host Laura Ingraham headlined an October fundraiser for Republican Arizona U.S. Senate candidate Kelli Ward. The New York Times reported then that “Fox News hosts are not usually allowed to stump for candidates, but Ms. Ingraham was granted an exception because her show had not yet begun” (Ingraham was a Fox News contributor and frequent guest host prior to starting The Ingraham Angle).

    Fox News did not reply to a Media Matters request for comment.