WASHINGTON (JTA) — U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) called on her opponent in their congressional election to stop writing for Andrew Breitbart’s conservative website.
Joel Pollak, a Republican, has written 16 blog posts for Breitbart’s BigGovernment.com, which posted a video edited to portray that U.S. Agriculture Department official Shirley Sherrod discriminated against whites. His communications director, Shalom Klein, said Pollak has no intention of distancing himself from the site.
Sherrod was fired, but subsequent reporting showed that the remarks had been taken out of context and that the speech to a chapter of the NAACP was an appeal to move beyond racism. Breitbart is feuding with the civil rights group over its claims that the conservative Tea Party movement has not done enough to expunge racist elements from its ranks.
“Breitbart’s publication of a video, which intended to turn the point of her speech into its exact opposite, is the lowest form of political mudslinging,” Schakowsky said in a statement released July 22.
The incumbent congresswoman said Pollak should "denounce Breitbart’s intentional distortion of the truth" and end any further association with his website.
Nine of Pollak’s posts mentioned Schakowsky. Both candidates are Jewish.
Pollak has attacked Schakowsky as not being sufficiently pro-Israel in a district that has a substantial Jewish population. Last month Pollak attacked Schakowsky for having former columnist Helen Thomas, who resigned after telling the Jews to “get the hell out of Palestine,” headline a fund-raiser in May.
Pollak, who has volunteered in South Africa, has made the case that he is sensitive on race issues in an area where such issues often have been volatile. Sherrod, now that she has been vindicated, has accused Breitbart of targeting her because she is black.
Klein said that Pollak was not paid by Breitbart. Schakowsky is “desperate,” he said, and the best way to combat racial tensions is by improving the economy.
"It is time for Americans to lower the temperature and get back to discussing how to create jobs for all,” Pollak said in a statement. “Andrew used intemperate language in his debate with the NAACP, which was wrong. It was even more wrong for the White House and the NAACP to punish a woman for alleged racism without conducting a full and fair investigation.”
The NAACP had called for Sherrod’s firing after the initial posting but later apologized.