October 19, 2016

A report released Wednesday by the Anti-Defamation League found that some supporters of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump are targeting Jewish reporters on Twitter with anti-Semitic abuse.

The ADL studied tweets sent from August of 2015 to July of 2016 and found 19,253 anti-Semitic tweets aimed at 800 journalists.

Ten of the journalists, who are all Jewish, were targeted with 83 percent of the total recorded abuse. But the ADL doesn’t assign blame to Trump, who has railed against the media this campaign. From the report:

Many of the anti-Semitic attackers publicized their role as self-appointed surrogates for Trump and their allegiance to the White nationalist cause. These five words appeared most frequently in the 1,600 Twitter attackers’ account ‘bios:’ Trump, conservative, White, nationalist and American.

But it does show that “users directing anti Semitism toward journalists self-identified as Trump supporters and nationalist.”

The report notes that 1,600 Twitter users sent the majority of the tweets. Of those accounts, 21 percent were suspended. What role does Twitter itself play in this? The ADL notes it doesn’t attribute the abuse to Twitter, which says it responds when hate speech is reported rather than regulating speech.

The ADL spoke with several journalists who’d received the most abuse, including Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro, The New York Times’ Jonathan Weisman and freelance reporter Bethany Mandel. According to the report:

One user tweeted about her for 19 hours straight, and she received messages containing incendiary language about her family, and images with her face superimposed on photos of Nazi concentration camps. Mandel, like the other Jewish journalists interviewed by ADL, has been targeted by anti-Semitic language before, but these attacks stood out, she said, for their ‘volume and the imagery. It also seemed coordinated – they would come in waves and 50 percent of the time I couldn’t identify the source.’

The ADL’s report comes days after Politico media reporter Hadas Gold received an anti-Semitic death threat on Twitter. Other news organizations have also documented that the abuse has been a growing issue this election season.

The ADL will follow up with a second report that offers recommendations on Nov. 17.

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Kristen Hare teaches local journalists the critical skills they need to serve and cover their communities as Poynter's local news faculty member. Before joining faculty…
Kristen Hare

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