- Thursday, November 23, 2023

If the last couple of months have shown us anything about American politics it’s that there’s a sizeable antisemitism problem in the Democratic Party, which has been exposed and highlighted as the party fractures over the Israel-Hamas war.

Some Democrats in Congress openly side with Hamas, the terrorist organization which launched a brutal assault on Israeli civilian targets on October 7. Hundreds of Democrat staffers on Capitol Hill, somehow under the impression that their opinions matter, have demanded that their bosses support a “ceasefire,” which is a different way of saying that Israel must simply absorb all Hamas attacks. Dozens of leftist agitators have laid siege to Democratic National Committee headquarters, demanding that the Biden administration side with Hamas as well. And you probably can’t be a member of the College Democrats these days unless you’ve recently marched in a protest against Israel.

There is indeed an antisemitism problem in this country, and the loudest voices are coming from within the Democratic Party. It’s not surprising, then, that the political left wants to change the focus and accuse someone else of being anti-Jew for a while.

Enter Media Matters, a leftist media “watchdog” group, which spends all its time attacking conservatives in media and hounding corporations into suspending their advertising on those outlets. Frequently their goal is to silence opposing points of view by cutting off their supporting revenue, so it’s not surprising that they’d attack tech platforms that also don’t adhere to leftist ideology.

Last week, Media Matters posted a bombshell story that claimed that the social media platform X (formerly Twitter) had been placing ads for major corporations next to pro-Nazi content. Media Matters’ idea was to pressure those companies to stop buying ads on X, because leftists hate the owner, Elon Musk, because of his strong defense of free speech on his platform.

(Leftists, you see, would rather delete and block any opinions that differ from their own, and so the freedoms offered by Mr. Musk’s platform must be undermined, in their view.)

Their plan worked, at least in the short term, as giant companies, including IBM, Comcast, Oracle, and Apple, halted their ad spending after the story ran.

Mr. Musk promptly sued Media Matters for what his filing called “intentionally deceptive reporting,” saying they had manipulated the X algorithm to achieve ad placements that would not have occurred on their own.

“Not a single authentic user on X saw IBM’s, Comcast’s, or Oracle’s ads next to the content in Media Matters’ article,” X’s CEO Linda Yaccarino posted on the platform. “Only 2 users saw Apple’s ad next to the content, at least one of which was Media Matters.”

The video hosting platform Rumble also jumped into the fray, saying that it, too, had been unfairly targeted by Media Matters through accusations about ads being placed next to objectionable content. Rumble, which (full disclosure) has been a client of my firm, recently released some demographic information showing that slightly more of its users self-identify as Democrats or Independents than as Republicans. This is data which strengthens its image as a non-ideological platform devoted only to free speech.

“On March 14th, Media Matters claimed that advertisements for Netflix, which were appearing on Rumble, had been placed on videos that violated our content policies,” said Rumble CEO Chris Pavlovski in a statement. “However, according to Google Analytics, the week before publication of that Media Matters article, there had been ZERO page views of that video.”

Rumble says the algorithm had been gamed to artificially place the ads on the content in question.

“This means that the Media Matters activist who took the screenshot was the FIRST HUMAN BEING to actually view the Netflix ad on the video in question, though their story left the false impression that it was a widespread problem,” Mr. Pavlovski said.

Some dependably leftist “experts” have been quoted in the media saying that Mr. Musk’s lawsuit is doomed because of Media Matters’ 1st Amendment protections. But, to me, that argument doesn’t hold water if Media Matters is accused of dishonest reporting, with malice, and with the intent to inflict the harm that it did. That sort of thing would not be protected speech at all.

Perhaps that’s why Ken Paxton, the attorney general of Texas, announced an investigation into Media Matters “for potential fraudulent activity.” At the same time, Mr. Pavlovski indicated that he would welcome Congressional inquiries and Mr. Musk agreed.

All this spotlights the odious combination of the left’s desire to stifle free speech with its willingness to exploit antisemitism for political gain. And maybe the message should be as simple as this: If your side weren’t antisemitic in the first place, you wouldn’t have to try to drag someone else into the mud with you.

• Tim Murtaugh is a Washington Times columnist, founder and principal of Line Drive Public Affairs LLC, and co-host of the Line Drive Podcast.

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