If you thought Randy Bryce, the troubled Democratic candidate in Wisconsin’s 1st congressional district, was going to run an honest campaign, then perhaps you missed his arrest record, his failure to disclose how much he’s being paid to be a Democratic consultant, the mysterious Democratic lawyer that settled Bryce’s debts after he entered the race, his purchase of fake followers on Twitter, and his self-comparison to Rep. John Lewis (D-GA).
But it’s hard to imagine anyone would sink as low as to falsely accuse his Republican opponent, Bryan Steil, of anti-Semitism. But just days after the mass shooting at a synagogue in Pennsylvania, Bryce has done precisely that, and his charge has been echoed in the media.
It began when Steil criticized Bryce online for running his campaign on out-of-state money. “If my opponent’s money talked, it would talk with an East Coast accent,” Steil posted on Twitter on October 29. Steil has a point.
A look at OpenSecrets.org shows New York City as the number one source of Bryce’s campaign donations. In fact, the top five metro areas donating to Bryce are: New York, Los Angeles-Long Beach (a.k.a. Hollywood), Chicago, Washington D.C. and San Francisco. Last we checked, none of those cities are in Wisconsin, except maybe when the Chicago Cubs visit Miller Park to play the Milwaukee Brewers.
The campaign finance tracking website shows 90.3 percent of Bryce’s donations are from outside Wisconsin.
Meanwhile, Steil has raised 61.5 percent of his money inside Wisconsin. The top five metro areas for donations to Steil are Janesville-Beloit, Milwaukee-Waukesha, Chicago, Madison and Racine.
However, various Leftists on Twitter accused Steil of anti-Semitism, claiming “East Coast” is code for “Jew.” Despite the silliness of the charge, it was repeated as fact by the leftwing organization ThinkProgress. Ironically, ThinkProgress has been criticized over anti-Semitic remarks made by bloggers on its website.
The Bryce campaign picked up the charge and also accused Steil of anti-Semitism, and found a willing Milwaukee Journal Sentinel to echo the charge.
Julia Savel, the Bryce campaign’s spokesman, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the remark was, “a direct reference to the Jewish community in a disgusting, stereotypical, and shameful way.”
“With dangerous anti-Semitic rhetoric on the rise all across the country, it is deeply concerning to see Bryan Steil stoop to Trump-style dog whistles that aim to divide us,” Savel said.
However, the newspaper failed to give any context to Steil’s remarks. No mention was made about the amount of money Bryce has raised from outside Wisconsin, nor was there any evidence provided for or against the idea that “East Coast Accent” is somehow anti-Semitic.
If the Journal-Sentinel reporters, Mary Spicuzza and political gossip columnist Dan Bice, had even done a simple Google search, they would have quickly found evidence that would have undermined the Bryce campaign’s claims. Even the “Urban Dictionary” has an entry for “East Coast accents” with no indication that the phrase is anti-Semitic. It does, however, make fun of Milwaukeeans who do not get out very much (which apparently includes some staff and editors of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.)
The newspaper’s readers are denied any context for Steil’s comment other than, “Steil himself has also come under criticism for the $2 million of attack ads funded by Congressional Leadership Fund, a national Republican super PAC endorsed by House Speaker Paul Ryan, whose seat the two candidates are vying for.”
Of course, Steil has no control over the actions of the Super Pac, which the newspaper doesn’t mention, and the newspaper didn’t even bother trying to connect the Super Pac to the subject of the article. It’s just a gratuitous and baseless shot at Steil.
What’s especially disgusting about this smear is that it comes just days after the mass shooting at synagogue in the Pittsburgh area. The attack on Steil is an attempt by the Bryce campaign to exploit the anti-Semitic mass shooting for political gain, and the newspaper doesn’t even ask the Bryce campaign whether that’s appropriate – especially when there are no grounds for the campaign to make that criticism of Stiles.
The rest of the article re-hashes the false charges made by Bryce’s campaign that Stiles was involved in the decision to “outsource” jobs (they mean “offshoring”) to China, a charge that was thoroughly investigated by the Washington Post and dismissed by the newspaper as false. The Post reported that a spokesman for the company in question, Regal-Beloit, said Steil had absolutely no role in deciding to send jobs to China. The newspaper also reported that the company actually added 1,200 jobs in the United States, including an expansion in the 1st congressional district, during the period Steil was employed by Regal-Beloit.