In the indictment of Donald Trump, many conservatives saw the malign influence of left-wing billionaire George Soros, who funded the successful election campaign of Manhattan-based Democrat District Attorney Alvin Bragg. The liberal press reacted to criticism of Bragg and “puppet master” Soros with outrage and accusations of racism and anti-Semitism.
A Tuesday morning “news analysis” from New York Times reporters Jonathan Weisman and Andrew Higgins went down the same path: “George Soros Is a Familiar Villain for the Right Wing in Trump’s Indictment.”
For more than a quarter-century, from East Asia to Central Europe to the United States, the reclusive financier George Soros has been cast as a puppet master by conspiracy theorists, who have branded him as the man behind the curtains for crises as varied as currency collapses, immigration surges and general moral laxity.
Remember that “conspiracy theorists” label for later.
Now, Mr. Soros, a billionaire and frequent donor to Democratic causes, has been credited by the American right with a new achievement: the indictment of Donald J. Trump.
The Manhattan district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, was “handpicked and funded by George Soros,” the former president declared on Thursday as news of his indictment was breaking.
The right’s fixation with Mr. Soros has waxed and waned for years, but the tumult surrounding Mr. Trump’s indictment has given new life to what critics have long contended is a fixation tinged with antisemitic bigotry. Mr. Soros, a Hungarian Jew, survived the Holocaust, fled communism and became one of the single largest funders of democracy promotion, anti-Communism and liberal education around the globe.
The Times allowed a few glints of common sense to pierce the narrative.
The conservative columnist Charles C. W. Cooke argued strongly in the National Review that Mr. Soros’s active involvement in politics, including the push to elect liberal district attorneys like Mr. Bragg, makes him fair game, and that charges of antisemitism are out of line.
Still, Weisman suggested the right was at least hyperventilating over Soros.
Mr. Soros’s involvement with Mr. Bragg’s election is indirect. In 2021, during a heated Democratic primary, the political arm of the self-described racial justice organization Color of Change pledged $1 million to support Mr. Bragg’s campaign….While Mr. Soros declined an interview request, a spokesman for Mr. Soros said that the financier and the Manhattan district attorney had never met, and that no contributions to Color of Change were earmarked for Mr. Bragg when he was a candidate.
As NewsBusters has established, one can “back” someone without meeting them face to face.
Weisman and Higgins fuzzed up Soros’s influence: He was “by far the largest donor of the 2022 midterms,” but an OpenSecrets spokesman insisted to the paper, “It’s almost misleading to call him the top donor because he had almost no impact on the cycle.” That's dizzying spin.
The Anti-Defamation League pointed to social media posts on the far right that amplified such claims and that also jumped into open antisemitism, with claims like, “‘Jews don’t run the world.’ Meanwhile George Soros just got President Trump indicted.”
The ADL noted that dozens of fund-raising emails sent by the Trump campaign have mentioned Mr. Soros, using what the group called “explosive language” like “puppeteer” or “puppet master.”
Yet when liberals target influential conservative donors as “puppet masters,” the Times nods along, as reporter Jeremy Peters did in a 2018 story about the spat between libertarian donor Charles Koch and Donald Trump:
….over the last few years the Koch brothers, two of the world’s wealthiest men, have tried to cultivate a worldly, civic-oriented image to counter the Democratic Party’s attacks on them as self-interested corporatist puppet masters….
Are Times reporters “conspiracy theorists” as well?