During an interview on Fox Business on Thursday, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) went on a bizarre rant about George Soros that ended with him echoing a baseless conspiracy theory about the billionaire progressive donor that has been spread by people like Alex Jones.
Responding to a question about Google, Gohmert started talking about George Orwell, and then said, “You mention Orwell — it also reminds me of another George: George Soros.”
“George Soros is supposed to be Jewish, but you wouldn’t know it from the damage he’s inflicted on Israel and the fact that he turned on fellow Jews and helped take the property that they owned,” Gohmert added.
Appearing on Fox Biz, Louie Gohmert says “George Soros is supposed to be Jewish but you wouldn’t know it from the damage he inflicted on Israel and the fact that he turned on fellow Jews & helped take the property that they owned.”
Stuart Varney quickly moves on pic.twitter.com/P4KUjOVnKb
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) December 6, 2018
Host Stuart Varney didn’t push back on or even acknowledge Gohmert’s comments about Soros, but instead tried to get the interview back on the rails by asking him a follow-up question about Google.
Later in the show, Varney addressed Gohmert’s remarks, saying:
In the last hour one of our guests, Congressman Louie Gohmert, for some reason, went out of his way to bring up George Soros and made unsubstantiated and false allegations against him. I want to make clear those views are not shared by me, this program or anyone at Fox Business.
George Soros was a victim of the Nazis, not a collaborator
Gohmert’s comment about how Soros “turned on fellow Jews and helped take the property that they owned” is a nod to the false conspiracy theory that the Hungarian-born Soros, who was 13 when the Nazis invaded Hungary in 1944, collaborated with Nazis.
As Vox’s Jane Coaston detailed in June after Donald Trump Jr. spread this conspiracy theory, Soros spent two days in 1944 working for a Jewish Council in Hungary delivering messages to Jewish individuals. Soros’s father read one of the messages, and informed the boy that he was in fact delivering summonses that would ultimately result in the recipients being deported to concentration camps.
Soros detailed the experience in an interview with the New Yorker:
This was a profoundly important experience for me. My father said, “You should go ahead and deliver [the summonses], but tell the people that if they report they will be deported.” The reply from one man was “I am a law-abiding citizen. They can’t do anything to me.” I told my father, and that was an occasion for a lecture that there are times when you have laws that are immoral, and if you obey them you perish.
With the help of false identity papers that Christianized their family name, Soros’s father later split up his family in hopes they would survive the war. George went on to live with a Hungarian official.
In a 60 Minutes interview in 1998, Soros discussed how he once accompanied the Hungarian official on a trip to confiscate belongings from a Jewish family that had already been kicked out of their mansion by Nazi officials, saying he was “only a spectator.” That comment — along with a fake photo of a Nazi official that people have falsely claimed to be Soros — has since become the foundation of conspiracy theories that Soros in fact collaborated with Nazis.
Conspiracy theories about Soros have become part of the Republican mainstream
Soros has long been a boogeyman for right-wingers, but President Donald Trump has helped pushed conspiracy theories about him into the Republican mainstream.
In the lead-up to the midterm elections, Trump baselessly accused Soros of paying protesters who disrupted the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani responded to Trump’s accusation by retweeting a tweet describing Soros as “the anti-Christ!”
On October 22, Gohmert went on Fox News and accused Soros of providing funding for a caravan of migrants and asylum seekers who made a dangerous journey through Mexico to America’s southern border. The next day, news broke that an explosive device was mailed to Soros by a person who was later revealed to be a Trump fan with mental illness.
That news didn’t deter Trump, however. During a question-and-answer session with reporters on October 31, Trump suggested he still believed Soros was funding the caravan, basing his claim on the fact that many people think it’s true.
“I don’t know who, but I wouldn’t be surprised,” Trump said, asked about the possibility of Soros funding the caravan. “A lot of people say yes.”