Chicago Tribune demotes columnist who blamed George Soros for violent protests


(JTA) — The Chicago Tribune has demoted a longtime columnist who blamed George Soros for violence in Chicago and other major U.S. cities.

John Kass, who has been on Page 2 of the newspaper for 23 years, wrote in his July 22 column that it is “the big cities run by Democratic mayors, where murder and gang shootings are out of control and where once vibrant downtown areas are on their way to becoming ghost towns. But these Democratic cities are also where left-wing billionaire George Soros has spent millions of dollars to help elect liberal social justice warriors as prosecutors. He remakes the justice system in urban America, flying under the radar.

“The Soros-funded prosecutors, not the mayors, are the ones who help release the violent on little or no bond.”

On Monday, Tribune editor-in-chief Colum McMahon announced that he would reorganize the placement of the newspaper’s columnists and separate news coverage from opinion columns. Kass will also lose his title of lead columnist. The news was first broken by independent media blogger Robert Feder.

Kass, 64, has appeared on Page 2 since the death of Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Mike Royko in 1997. He has been with the newspaper for 37 years, starting as a copy boy.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, “aggressive language towards Soros has exploded on social media” since the start of the George Floyd protests.

The posts, according to the ADL, mostly allege without evidence that Soros is funding riots across the country, and that he is backing antifa, a loose network of anti-fascist activists whom President Donald Trump has blamed for the violence, also without citing evidence.

The Illinois Jewish Legislative Caucus, made up of 12 state representatives and senators, welcomed the Tribune’s decision.

In a statement, the lawmakers group said Kass “knows, as most journalists know, that Soros-themed conspiracy theories have proliferated amongst the fringe white supremacist and Twitterazi’s. Kass knew about the rise in anti-Semitism, he just didn’t care.”

Kass responded to the changes in the placement of his column, as well as a letter to management from the Chicago Tribune Guild accusing him of religious bigotry and fomenting conspiracy theories, with a column on Wednesday.

“The left doesn’t like my politics. I get that. I don’t like theirs much, either,” he wrote.

Kass also wrote: “I will not apologize for writing about Soros. I will not bow to those who’ve wrongly defamed me. I will continue writing my column.”

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