Senator Bernie Sanders fended off an unsubstantiated claim by long-time radio host Diane Rehm that he holds dual U.S.-Israeli citizenship.
An independent socialist from Vermont, Sanders is running for president as a Democrat.
The Diane Rehm Show broadcasts from WAMU in Washington, D.C., and is syndicated on about 200 NPR stations across the country.
In the middle of a radio interview today, Rehm stated (rather than asked) that Sanders has dual citizenship based on a “list” from which she was working.
Sanders, who is Jewish, rejected that claim out of hand, deeming it internet nonsense.
“Well, no, I do not have dual citizenship with Israel. I’m an American. I don’t know where that question came from. I am an American citizen, and I have visited Israel on a couple of occasions. No, I’m an American citizen, period… my dad came to this country from Poland at the age of 17 without a nickel in his pocket. He loved this country. I am, you know, I got offended a little bit by that comment, and I know it’s been on the internet. I am obviously an American citizen, and I do not have any dual citizenship.”
Was Rehm advancing some sort of weird conspiracy theory and/or implying divided loyalty on the part of the senator or others? Listen to the exchange embedded below and draw your own conclusions.
According to the Jewish Journal, Rehm and/or her producers may have relied upon a fabricated list of U.S. lawmakers who supposedly hold citizenship in both countries that was posted on an obscure Facebook page.
Among other things, the bio on Rehm’s website, which details her many journalistic accomplishments, notes that she suffers from spasmodic dysphonia, a speech disorder, and also indicates that she is the daughter of Arab immigrants.
Separately, Sanders got into some hot water for authoring a 1972 essay for an alternative newspaper in which he asserted that women fantasize about being gang raped. In a subsequent Meet the Press interview, he characterized the article as a very poorly written work of fiction along the lines of 50 Shades of Grey.
Reacting to the Bernie Sanders-Diane Rehm interview, The Federalist observed that “The question is: how could a mainstream media personality, one that has interviewed basically every political personality in the past 30 years, so casually level such a silly conspiratorial assertion? Much like the ‘Israel-firster’ attack, assuming that people who support Israel must be in possession of dual citizenship is a longstanding smear used by anti-Semites and other anti-Israel advocates to chill speech and question the allegiance of American Jews.”
A Sanders spokesman gave this brief comment to Politico about the citizenship discussion in question. “Diane Rehm is an excellent radio host. There’s a great big Internet out there with lots of good and bad information. I’ve never heard the question come up before.”
Although it’s still early in the 2016 presidential campaign, the Bernie Sanders-Diane Rehm conversation, unfortunately, is not the first apparent ethnic salvo by the mainstream media. Last month, for example, Bloomberg political reporter Mark Halperin posed (and then apologized for) a series of demeaning questions to U.S. Senator Ted Cruz about his Cuban heritage.
Diane Rehm has just released the following statement.
“On today’s show I made a mistake. Rather than asking Senator and Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders whether he had dual U.S./Israeli citizenship, as I had read in a comment on Facebook, I stated it as fact. He corrected me, saying he did not know where the question came from. I apologized immediately. I want to apologize as well to all our listeners for having made an erroneous statement. I am sorry for the mistake. However, I am glad to play a role in putting this rumor to rest.”
[Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images News]
Added: HotAir.com suggests that Diane Rehm engaged in journalistic malpractice in her discourse with Bernie Sanders. “Rehm admits she just looked at the Facebook comment and took it as fact. In doing so, she didn’t ‘play a role in putting this rumor to rest,’ Rehm attempted to propagate it.” Observed NewsBusters: “Rehm’s apology indicates that she believes she should have asked a question instead of just making an assertion about Sanders’ dual citizenship. That’s not right at all. She should have investigated the matter before she went on the air so she didn’t waste listeners’ time talking about a claim that’s completely bogus… [Sanders would] be blowing a gasket if it the incident had occurred at a center-right outlet.”