I want to be very precise about what I say here. There’s a new conspiracy theory rapidly gaining traction among Trump supporters about the origin of the ‘Access Hollywood’ Trump tape which triggered days of new allegations about Donald Trump’s alleged history of sexual abuse. The conspiracy theory is rapidly taking on an explicitly anti-Semitic character. As far as I can see it has not been pushed by the Trump campaign itself, at least not publicly. But it’s catching fire with numerous supporters and surrogates – most notably Jerry Falwell Jr, a key Trump supporter among evangelicals and President of Liberty University, the school founded by his father.
The claim is also being pushed by Breitbart and David Duke in various neo-Nazi web forums. Notably, in recent months Breitbart, with which the Trump campaign has now effectively merged, has itself more openly embraced anti-Semitism.
You can see the details of the story in our write up here. The claim is that Dan Senor, a prominent GOP political operative, who is Jewish and married to former television reporter Campbell Brown, is behind the tape disclosure and part of a plot of “GOP elites” to destroy Donald Trump. In other words, in this conspiracy theory, Senor is now cast as the Jewish “traitor” working for the conspiracy of political elites, international financiers and the media who Trumped railed against today in his speech.
I’ve written before about the radicalizing tendencies of the Trump campaign. Avowed anti-Semitic supporters are brought into the mainstream. Trump bellows about conspiracies of traitorous elites and global financiers – charges which don’t mention Jews explicitly but which closely follow the themes, vocabulary and villains of traditional anti-Semitic agitation. Then rabid Trump supporters who may not previously have thought in anti-Semitic terms or may have held only latent hostility toward Jews get swept into embracing and propagating anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and political agitation.
In other words, it’s not just that Trump and his campaign are bringing marginalized extremists into mainstream politics. He’s radicalizing new people. This is backed up by public opinion data on other issues tied to Vladimir Putin, trade policy, et al. But it seems to be happening with anti-Semitic beliefs too. The Senor/Access Hollywood conspiracy theory seems to be rapidly morphing into a vehicle for these attitudes and beliefs. Trump’s animosity against ‘Republican elites’ and the new charges about global financiers are getting wrapped together with explicit anti-Semitism even if Trump hasn’t made the connections himself.
I would encourage everyone to watch the course this takes very closely.