Promoted from the diaries by Leon. I personally don’t know Schmitz from Adam, but someone who did asked for the opportunity to respond to the recent allegations about him, and I was happy to oblige.
America’s fanatically partisan environment encourages lousy journalism. Intense hatred for one, another, or both of the 2016 presidential candidates incentivizes the peddling of scurrilous accusations and flimsy reporting; if something fits into a narrative or into an agenda of the opposition’s destruction, it’s breathlessly reported and moved on social media. The speed at which this happens has the power to ruin lives and reputations long before a correction is issued, if at all.
I was stunned, then, to read the shocking allegation, “Trump adviser accused of making anti-Semitic remarks” about former Pentagon Inspector General Joe Schmitz. In a piece that’s either hyper-partisan or sensationalist, McClatchy Washington Bureau staff writers Marisa Taylor and William Douglas trumpeted allegations of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial about Schmitz that, quite simply, amounted to nothing but hearsay.
I was even more disappointed to see writers at conservative and Jewish websites amplifying the McClatchy attack. At least one of those websites, incidentally, has counted Schmitz as a regular contributor for the last several years. “Accusations of anti-Semitism in the Donald Trump campaign are nothing new,” one piece began, “but rarely are they more solid than this.”
Every other accusation of anti-Semitism in the Donald Trump campaign is, in fact, more solid than this one. There’s not a shred of evidence Schmitz made a single anti-Semitic comment to anyone.
The allegation—the basis for the initial McClatchy attack—is based on reporting about a Merit Systems Protection Board complaint filed by Defense Department IG attorney Daniel Meyer, who disputes he filed a complaint against Schmitz at all.
Even more, Meyer and Schmitz have remained on very friendly terms since Schmitz hired and swore him in during his time as Inspector General. For his part, Meyer is willing to speak to the press about being misrepresented by McClatchy and others in the media.
Even taking what’s in the McClatchy report at face value—though there’s plenty of reason not to—the story is double-hearsay. There’s no claim that anyone heard any comments first-hand; at best, it’s a third person relating the details of a conversation he’d heard from one of the participants.
Of course, we’re in the world of public opinion, not a court of law, but there should nevertheless be a reasonable evidentiary standard before we start repeating accusations. You know, something that constitutes proof a situation actually occurred.
In the absence of any tangible evidence, the claim made about Schmitz is transparently ridiculous because it’s so laughably out of character. I’ve known and worked with Joe Schmitz for years. I cannot imagine him saying any of the horrible things McClatchy accused him of.
I met Joe Schmitz when working on the Team B II Report in 2010, along with more than a dozen top national security experts, including former CIA Director James Woolsey, federal prosecutor and Andrew McCarthy and many others—including several Jews, ranging from secular to Orthodox.
We subsequently worked together closely over the course of 2012 and 2013, as I published his own book, The Inspector General Handbook. As colleagues, we’ve exchanged tons of emails and spoken at length in person and over the phone. Throughout our dealings, Joe was always respectful, honest and forthright. He never once made a comment or suggestion that could in any way be construed as anti-Semitic, Holocaust denying or otherwise hateful.
I work in national security and terrorism where, in order to make a legitimate claim, we routinely have actual video, audio or other documentary evidence. As conservatives are keenly aware, there’s a double-standard in the mainstream press. What they consider a “right-wing smear” often amounts to a whole lot more than anything they’ve got on Schmitz.
For example, as recently as June 20, 2016, McClatchy ran a story promoting the efforts of Nihad Awad, executive director and founder of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), in combatting local anti-Sharia legislation. Nowhere did they mention that Awad appeared on an FBI wiretap of a meeting of high-level Hamas operatives, describing the use of CAIR as an explicit propaganda front for the Palestinian terrorist group; worked for Hamas political director Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzook at the Islamic Association for Palestine, a group the US Justice Department found was a fundraising front for Hamas; was videotaped saying, “I am in support of the Hamas movement”—and on and on.
None of these facts, established in federal court, no less, ever make it into McClatchy’s frequent reporting on Awad or get as much as a mention in mainstream media profiles.
Schmitz, however, committed the sin of publicly associating with Donald Trump, lending his expertise to the GOP candidate’s foreign policy agenda. That much, it seems, is enough to toss out objectivity in search of a headline and a line of attack. Needless to say, it shouldn’t be.
Let’s not allow ourselves to get into a lather, leading us to smear good people we don’t know simply because we want to score points against Donald Trump or any of our other political enemies.
My advice to #NeverTrump or #NeverHillary and anything in between—slow down. Evaluate evidence or lack thereof fairly and honestly. There’s plenty to be critical of without resorting to cheap attacks based on smears with no actual evidence.