Conservative lawyers Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing, two of President Donald Trump’s fiercest and most loyal TV defenders, returned Monday night to Fox airwaves—less than a month after diGenova sparked intense backlash from Jewish organizations by spewing anti-Semitic tropes during a Fox Business interview.
In several statements on Tuesday, groups like the Anti-Defamation League and J Street slammed diGenova’s return as “disturbing” and demonstrating Fox’s lack of “remorse” about what is said on its air.
DiGenova appeared Monday evening on Fox Business primetime show Lou Dobbs Tonight, the same program where, last month, he invoked anti-Semitic stereotypes to allege that Jewish financier George Soros “controls” most of the U.S. State Department.
Those November remarks—heavily leaning on anti-Semitic stereotypes about Jewish control—were immediately met with outrage, especially by Jewish organizations. The Anti-Defamation League, citing similar remarks made by Judicial Watch’s Chris Farrell on Dobbs’ (who himself has been repeatedly accused of pushing anti-Semitic tropes) show last year that got him banned by Fox, called on the cable channel to hold diGenova to the same standards.
ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt later sent a letter to Fox News chief Suzanne Scott urging her to publicly distance the network from diGenova and announce he is no longer welcome on their airwaves.
But one month later, it appears Fox has entirely ignored the appeals from Jewish groups. The ADL confirmed to The Daily Beast on Tuesday that they have yet to hear back from anyone at Fox, and that their “call to action remains.”
“We have repeatedly called on Fox News to no longer book Joe diGenova, and others who traffic in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories,” ADL spokesperson Jake Hyman said in a statement to The Daily Beast. “In return, we have been greeted by silence from Fox, which is telling. The fact that diGenova returned to the airwaves last night is even more telling, and quite frankly, disturbing.”
“Clearly Fox News feels no remorse about continuing to feature white nationalist and anti-Semitic rhetoric on their network, and no real concern about the dangerous consequences of the hateful conspiracy theories that they’re helping to spread,” a spokesperson for liberal Jewish group J Street told The Daily Beast.
“From diGenova’s appearance last night on Fox News to Trump’s antisemitic and racist speech this past weekend, it continues ro be clear that in media and government alike, right-wing figures are actively promoting antisemitism," Emily Mayer, political director for progressive Jewish organization IfNotNow, said in a statement. "Young American Jews are doing what Jewish establishments won’t: loudly and unequivocally organizing against the people who put the Jewish community and our neighbors in danger every day.”
Soros’ philanthropic organization, Open Society Foundations, also said that Fox News and Scott have yet to respond to their memos about diGenova.
“We have sent two letters in the past month to Fox News, calling out false and defamatory statements on their air about George Soros and the work of the Open Society Foundations—first from lawyer Joe diGenova, and then last week from retired Army Col. Douglas Macgregor,” Open Society president Patrick Gaspard told The Daily Beast. “We have not as yet heard back. Some months ago, Fox Business did the right thing last year, when a guest went on Lou Dobbs' program making anti-Semitic remarks about Mr. Soros and the network banned the guest from appearing again.”
“We are merely asking for Fox to follow its own precedent here,” Gaspard added. “I have requested a meeting to discuss these matters further, and await Suzanne Scott's reply. I have no hope that Fox will live up to its ‘fair and balanced’ mantra; I’d settle for ‘not hateful’ and ‘in the vicinity of the truth.’”
During an appearance on Dobbs’ show last week, Macgregor accused Soros of funding both “massive migrations out of Central America” and “antifa,” adding that he’s responsible for “the massive criminality pouring into the United States from Mexico and the war in Mexico that no one wants to talk about.”
According to Media Matters, a liberal media-monitoring group, the Trump-boosting legal team has appeared on Fox programming nearly 70 times this year. Media Matters first reported on Friday that the pair hadn’t made a single Fox appearance since diGenova’s anti-Semitic remarks—a streak that was broken on Monday night.
Media Matters senior fellow Matt Gertz speculated that it may have been his reporting on the pair’s absence from Fox airwaves that prompted their sudden return. “As I noted, Toensing and diGenova have enough stature at the network as Trump allies and key players in Fox conspiracy theories that it would have been hard for the network to publicly chastise them,” he tweeted on Monday night. “As soon as was reported they had been sidelined, that was no longer tenable."
While diGenova and Toensing continue to be welcomed on Fox Business—and specifically Dobbs’ show—their appearances on the mothership have apparently dried up, perhaps coinciding with a separately high-profile series of incidents involving the pair.
In late September, diGenova called Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano a “fool” during an appearance on Fox’s Tucker Carlson Tonight, prompting then-Fox News anchor Shepard Smith to rebuke both the lawyer and Carlson. (Smith would end up leaving the network weeks later following his indirect, on-air clashes with Carlson.)
Days later, Fox News anchor Chris Wallace reported that diGenova and Toensing worked with Giuliani “off the books” on a Ukraine dirt-digging operation that only Trump was aware of. DiGenova would loudly deny Wallace’s reporting and later trash the respected Fox anchor during an appearance on—of course—Lou Dobbs’ show.
DiGenova and Toensing have not appeared on the Fox News mothership since diGenova’s Oct. 8 appearance on The Ingraham Angle, which featured him comparing the impeachment inquiry to “regicide” and calling whistleblowers “suicide bombers,” prompting Ingraham to do a bit of on-air damage control. Besides sparking outrage over those comments, it was also revealed around that time that the husband-wife attorney team worked with Lev Parnas, one of Giuliani’s now-indicted henchmen.
Fox News did not respond to requests for comment on the return of diGenova or its ignoring of the ADL and other such organizations.
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