A CNN debate over Trump's alleged anti-Semitism devolved into a shouting match between Trump supporter Kayleigh McEnany and the director of the Ann Frank Center, Steven Goldstein. Erin Burnett moderated the debate on CNN Tuesday.
"After Trump's remarks today," Erin asked Goldstein, "you came out very forcefully you wrote, 'The President’s sudden acknowledgement is a Band-Aid on the cancer of Antisemitism that has infected his own Administration. His statement today is a pathetic asterisk of condescension... Make no mistake: The Antisemitism coming out of this Administration is the worst we have ever seen...' that is a serious charge."
"Absolutely Erin," Goldstein forcefully responded, "time and again this president has had an opportunity to condemn anti-Semitism."
He had a chance to include Jews in Holocaust remembrance, he didn't. He had a chance to speak out against the desecration of Jewish cemeteries this weekend, he didn't. He had a chance to speak out against bomb threats against JCCs (Jewish Community Centers), and he didn't.
Today when he was forced, obvious by some staffers because it came several news cycles after, he finally spoke out. Is our country so lower in its expectations in what to expect from our president that we're supposed to say, 'congratulations Mr. President, you recognize anti-Semitism'?
"That's pathetic," he exclaimed.
"Kayleigh, what do you say?" Burnett addressed the Trump supporter, "he was asked directly about it twice in the past week, there were all these incidents, it wasn't until his daughter tweeted yesterday that he then suddenly in a prepared speech that he read, said the words."
"For those wanting to give the president a fair chance," McEnany explained, "you would have heard him condemn anti-Semitism, I have his exact quote when he was asked this question."
He said, "I want peace in this country, I want to stop crime and long-simmering racism." That sounds like a condemnation to me. But some people on the left are using the veil of anti-Semitism and the charge of anti-Semitism to further their own political causes. It's dangerous. I agree with Alan Durschowitz fully, that we should be loosely throwing this term around. And I gotta ask you straight on, so you think the president does not like Jews and is prejudiced against Jews, you think that about the president of the United States?
Goldstein surprised McEnany by agreeing with the statement and adding, "You bet, and you know why?"
You know what, Kayleigh I am tired of commentators like you from the right, trotting out his daughter, trotting out his son-in-law as talking points against the president's anti-Semitism. They are Jewish, but that is not a talking point against anti-Semitism. And that is a disgrace. Have you no, have you no ethics, to invoke people religion as a talking point? That itself is anti-Semitism.
"Let's make this dialogue instead of a monologue," McEnany shifted the conversation. "Do you think the president likes his daughter?"
"You know what," Goldstein averred, "I'm under no obligation to answer a curveball question. Because it's a nonsensical question based on nothing."
MacEnany continued to say that she believed Trump had already answered condemned anti-Semitism sufficiently, and continued with the same line of reasoning, which Goldstein called a "fake news argument."
Trump has been under fire by many critics who say he has not been forcefully outspoken against anti-Semitism, especially after a recent epidemic of vandalism and bomb threats against Jewish community centers all across the country. Trump had already been criticized for not mentioning the Jews in his Holocaust remembrance statement, and his neglect of the epidemic spurred more condemnations.
They also cited a very terse and dismissive exchange had with Jake Turx, a reporter with a Jewish news outlet, who asked him about the anti-Semitism charges.
— Jews Against Trump (@fight_trump) February 16, 2017
Eventually, Trump was forced to make a statement against anti-Semitism Tuesday, one which the Anne Frank Center director found disingenuous and perfunctory:
— ABC News (@ABC) February 21, 2017
Trump's close associates have denied the coddling of the alt-right, which is known for its racism and anti-Semitism, even after Trump advisor Steve Bannon admitted his website, Breitbart News, had turned into a platform for the alt-right movement.