WASHINGTON (JTA) — For the second time this year, the White House aimed fire at a Fox News Channel host for casting doubt on remembrance of the Holocaust.
On his Westwood One radio show on Wednesday, Fox News host Mark Levin went after CNN personalities for their questions about how careful Israel was in mitigating civilian casualties. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer had pressed Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, the U.S. House of Representatives minority leader and a New York Democrat, for his opinion of Israel’s strike on a Hamas target in Jabaliya refugee camp.
“We don’t yet know how many civilians were killed in today’s strike on that refugee camp, but is taking out one Hamas leader or maybe two Hamas leaders who may have been there worth the deaths of so many civilians?” asked Blitzer.
Levin ridiculed the question as betraying ignorance of the Holocaust.
“Wolf Blitzer, as I understand it, his parents weren’t victims in one way or another of the Holocaust,” Levin said. “But certainly his family comes out of that background — but you wouldn’t know it.” Blitzer documented his parents’ survival of Auschwitz in a recent documentary.
Andrew Bates, a White House spokesman, took aim at Levin in an unsolicited comment emailed Friday evening to reporters. Unsolicited attacks on the media have been rare for the Biden administration.
“Not only is Fox News aligning with those who fan the flames of hate – Fox is paying their salaries,” said Bates, who in July blasted another Fox Host, Greg Gutfeld, for saying that being “useful” helped Jewish survivors make it through the Holocaust. “Lying to insult the pain that families suffered in the Holocaust has absolutely no place in America.”
Levin also said in his radio show, which is not affiliated with Fox News, “CNN is filled with a lot of self-hating Jews, in my opinion.” The comments followed ones he made the previous week about another CNN host, Jake Tapper, who, like Blitzer, is unabashed in his Jewish expression. He also called Tapper a “self-hating Jew” and “propagandist for the enemy.” (Media Matters, a liberal watchdog, first distributed the audio of Levin’s remarks.)
CNN accused Levin, who is Jewish, of “antisemitic” rhetoric.
“Mark Levin’s comments about Wolf Blitzer and Jake Tapper were wildly uninformed, inappropriate and shameful,” a spokeswoman said in an email. “Wolf is the child of Holocaust survivors and all four of his grandparents were murdered during the Holocaust, a fact that Wolf has personally reported on through a special documentary, trips to Auschwitz, written reflections, and decades of public speaking on Holocaust education and awareness. Levin’s antisemitic rhetoric is dangerous, offensive and should be universally denounced.”
Asked for a response, a Fox spokeswoman, Irene Briganti emailed the Jewish Telegraphic Agency a transcript of a subsequent Levin broadcast in which he addressed the criticism.
In it, Levin appears to acknowledge that he spread a falsehood about Blitzer and suggests that he did so unintentionally.
“I barely remember saying it,” Levin said. “But obviously, why would I say his parents ‘weren’t, weren’t’ in one way or another victims in the Holocaust? How can that even be logical? Why would I say somebody’s parents were or were not victims of the Holocaust? If they weren’t victims of the Holocaust, why would I say his parents weren’t victims of the Holocaust? Or why would I intentionally say that I didn’t? I didn’t.”
Levin said he’s “since looked it up” and that Blitzer’s parents were, indeed, Holocaust survivors, “a horrible, horrible, thing,” but that if anything that proves his argument that he — Levin — is the better supporter of Israel.
“In that entire clip, Mr. Producer, who’s defending Israel? Me,” Levin said. “In that entire clip who’s defending the IDF, taking out the Islamo-Nazi commander? Is it Wolf Blitzer? No, he’s questioning it. It’s me. I am.”