Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) on Thursday morning managed to turn a Fox Business Network discussion about Google and China into a bizarre attack on the right’s favorite bogeyman, George Soros.
Fox Business later apologized for the congressman’s comments.
“You mention Orwell, it also reminds me of another George—George Soros,” Gohmert said, making a clumsy transition during his segment. “Because Google is born in a free country and then they go over and help oppress another country.”
“George Soros is supposed to be Jewish, but you wouldn’t know it from the damage he’s inflicted on Israel and the fact that he turned on fellow Jews and helped take the property that they own.”
That wild accusation—or as Gohmert put it “fact”—went unchallenged by host Stuart Varney, who helped steer the conversation back to China.
Gohmert’s comments echo a common right-wing conspiracy theory that Soros—a liberal, billionaire philanthropist—was a Nazi sympathizer or worse during World War II.
Born in Hungary in 1930, Soros was just nine years old at the start of the war and 14 when it ended. But that hasn’t stopped far-right firebrands like Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter, Dinesh D’Souza, and now sitting Rep. Louie Gohmert from spreading lies about him. Beck’s comments drew a condemnation from the Anti-Defamation League.
As the fact-checking website Snopes wrote in its piece debunking the myth, “The simple truth is that George Soros neither said nor did anything resembling what he has been accused of. In no sense was Soros, who turned 14 years old not long after the Germans occupied Hungary in 1944, a ‘Nazi collaborator.’ At no time did he confiscate (or help confiscate) the property of Jews, ‘identify Jews to the Nazis,’ or help ‘round up’ people targeted for deportation or extermination by the Germans (to answer just a few of the accusations leveled against him).”
In the following broadcast hour, Varney issued an on-air apology for Gohmert’s remarks: “Congressman Louie Gohmert for some reason went out of his way to bring up George Soros and made unsubstantiated and false allegations against him. I want to make clear those views are not shared by me, this program or anyone at Fox Business.”
Varney may have ultimately distanced himself from the congressman’s comments, but the Fox Business Network has recently helped spread other conspiracy theories about the billionaire Democratic donor, who was among the recipients of a mail bomb earlier this fall.
Less than two weeks before that explosive device arrived at his doorstep, Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) accused Soros of paying and organizing protesters to demonstrate against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. An hour later, President Donald Trump repeated the same claim on Twitter.
More recently, Fox Business was forced to ban a guest from appearing on Lou Dobbs’ primetime show after he spread the conspiracy that Soros funded the migrant caravan heading towards the U.S.-Mexico border. And that was after the mail bombs were sent.
Additionally, the man who massacred 11 congregants of a Pittsburgh synagogue in October frequently posted the white-nationalist conspiracy theory that wealthy Jews like Soros support bringing immigrants into the United States in order to “kill our people.”
A few days after that guest was banned, when Dobbs hosted Gohmert on his show to discuss the caravan, the congressman insisted: “It’s not anti-Semitic to criticize Soros.”
But using a debunked conspiracy theory to claim he’s not “Jewish” enough almost certainly is.
In a statement to The Daily Beast, the congressman wrote: “Soros himself admitted in a 60 Minutes interview with Steve Kroft on December 20, 1998 that he had no regrets whatsoever about assisting the Nazis in confiscating property from the Jewish people during the Holocaust. That is a fact. Any person with any sense of empathy for their fellow human beings would regret the part they played in confiscating Jewish property during the Holocaust.”
But as explained in that 60 Minutes interview and multiple biographies, he was a 14-year-old boy who went on one trip with his temporary caretaker who was tasked with taking inventory of items already confiscated from Jewish citizens. “As a child... you don’t see the connection,” Soros explained. “I was only a spectator, the property was being taken away. I had no role in taking away that property. So I had no sense of guilt.”
Gohmert’s statement continued: “My remarks were not anti-Semitic. Even the Israeli government has condemned Soros. They were about the horror of his lack of remorse over his actions. It was a pro-Jewish statement on my part and supportive of the statement that the Israeli government made last year that anti-Soros statements are not anti-Semitic because George Soros ‘continuously undermines Israel’s democratically elected governments by funding organizations that defame the Jewish state and seek to deny it the right to defend itself.’”