Reporter Ashleigh Banfield long ago established her reputation as a biased and ill-informed journalist. Over a decade ago, when she was still reporting from Israel for MSNBC, CAMERA drew attention to her “shaky grasp of the region’s realities,” her gaffes, her omissions and her “historical myopia.” The Wall Street Journal criticized her as “inept,” “unprepared, verbose and incapable of complex analysis.”
When it comes to reinforcing stereotypes about Israel and its supporters, she does not let the facts interfere. And while Israelis are not the only ones stereotyped by Banfield – she also came under fire this past summer for racist stereotyping of black American culture – her bias is most apparent when she reports on Israel or the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. For example, she ignited controversy last year when she interviewed lawyer Alan Dershowitz on CNN, her current home base, and suggested that no one in Israel was really a “civilian” and that a Palestinian-perpetrated massacre of unarmed civilians worshipping in a synagogue therefore did not constitute terrorism.
Given this reporter’s history, it was inevitable that she would again put her foot into her mouth to reveal her woeful ignorance and bias on her CNN program, “Legal View with Ashleigh Banfield.”
Addressing U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump’s defense of his contentious call to ban Muslim immigration to the U.S., Banfield interviewed former Reagan White House director and current CNN political commentator Jeffrey Lord, a supporter of the presidential candidate. Although the discussion was ostensibly about the constitutionality of Trump’s widely condemned proposal, Banfield managed to bring the conversation around to a discussion of “Jews,” quoting an anonymous “someone”:
Someone was so clever this morning saying, Jeffrey, if you supplant the word Jews for Muslims in a lot of the rhetoric that we’ve had this morning, I think people would find it sort of cringe worthy and reminiscent of a really ugly time in our history. Imagine a customs and border control agent, Jeffrey, asking someone, are you a Jew? How would that go over?
When Lord pointed out there are no Jews who are immigrating to the US intending to destroy America, Banfield differed by citing the actions of individuals associated with the marginal Jewish Defense League (JDL) several decades ago, claiming this was “the same thing” as current radical Islamic terrorism. Never mind that the Jewish Defense League is not currently classified as a terrorist group, that it has for years distanced itself from terrorism, that its members did not organize or commit any mass killings, and that the attacks she dredges up occurred more than three decades ago. To Banfield, this was an opportunity to denigrate Jews, regardless of its relevancy to the situation at hand.
Shouting over her guest, who tried to draw a distinction between the two, Banfield reiterated her accusation,”What are you talking about? There have been Jewish terrorist attacks. Should we therefore ask no Jews to apply for a visa?”
A clearly flummoxed Jeffrey Lord responded, “Are you really saying to me that there’s an international Jewish conspiracy to take over the world?”
Once again, Banfield referred to the JDL’s long ago actions, suggesting that the threat of Jewish terrorism in the U.S. is “the same thing” as the threat of radical Islamic terrorism, which seemed to have been the main point she had wanted to make all along.
Watch the discussion here.