Son of former Bill Clinton aide Sidney Blumenthal, Max Blumenthal was born in 1977. He received his B.A. in history from the University of Pennsylvania in 1999. He currently works as a Puffin Foundation writing fellow at the Nation Institute, which is funded, in part, by George Soros’ Open Society Institute. He is also a Research Fellow for Media Matters for America. Blumenthal is a regular contributor to The Nation and continues to publish in a number of liberal and leftist journals and magazines, most prominent among them, The Daily Beast, the American Prospect, Salon.com, the Washington Monthly, Alternet, and the Huffington Post. His first book, Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement that Shattered the Party (2009), was published by Nation Books.
Much like his father who developed a reputation for mercilessly smearing opponents, Blumenthal is known as a character assassin who accuses prominent conservatives of racism. In 2005, Blumenthal argued that Bill Bennett, an esteemed conservative intellectual, had “confirm[ed] his reputation as a racist” in a television appearance on Hannity and Colmes. On that show, Bennett championed his wife’s inner-city abstinence-promotion program, “Best Friends,” saying: “She has done more for inner-city black girls than the entire Black Caucus. So I will not bow my head to any of these people.” For Blumenthal, Bennett’s use of the phrase “these people” to reference his critics in the Black Caucus makes him “a racist at the helm of a movement galvanized by its resentment of minority aspirations.”
In June of 2005, Blumenthal used similar tactics to smear Fox News’ Sean Hannity. In an article titled “Hannity’s Soul-Mate of Hate,” published in The Nation, Blumenthal attempted to align the conservative media star with Hal Turner, an extremist known for racism. Blumenthal’s charge, however, was not based upon any evidence; rather, he cited a number of alleged 1998 phone-ins that a then-unknown Turner had made to Hannity’s radio show on WABC. (Hannity’s program received hundreds of calls from the public during that period). With this, Blumenthal maintained that Hannity “recognized his audience’s thirst for red meat, racist rhetoric,” but amended his ways as soon as he had achieved national prominence on Fox News. Blumenthal’s smear of Hannity has since been disseminated by scores of left-wing websites and blogs.
Blumenthal also characterizes opponents of the open-borders immigration lobby as racists. In an interview with Amy Goodman, he declared that such people “come from the white nationalist movement, a movement that seeks to maintain what they consider the white character of the United States.”
In 2007 Blumenthal released “CPAC 2007: The Unauthorized Documentary,” which he filmed at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, DC. In this production, Blumenthal repeatedly endeavored to inject the issue of race into the “crisis” at the heart of conservatism. At first, he trained his video camera on prominent conservative personality Michelle Malkin and unsuccessfully solicited her autograph on a picture of a World War II internment camp. Filming then-Representative Tom Tancredo’s speech on the problem of illegal immigration, Blumenthal next tried to catch Tancredo supporters articulating racist statements. Conversing with one unnamed attendee, Blumenthal posed a leading rhetorical question that included the phrase, “we need to preserve white culture,” for which he was immediately rebuked. He concluded his documentary with a personal attack on Ann Coulter in front of an audience after her CPAC address: “As a proponent of the sanctity of marriage, can you explain why you’ve had three broken engagements and never been married?”
Blumenthal’s efforts to smear public figures on the right with the charge of racism have even extended into the entertainment world. In 2008, he claimed that country music star Toby Keith’s song “Water for My Horses,” which is about the Old West, is “a racially tinged, explicitly pro-lynching anthem.” Blumenthal went on to associate Keith’s grandfather with “an institutional method of terror employed against blacks to maintain white supremacy.” Keith later dismissed Blumenthal’s condemnations: “The song was a hit and the words ‘lynch’ and ‘racism’ [have] never come up until this moron wrote this blog.”
Bumenthal’s 2009 book, Republican Gomorrah, attempted to demonstrate how the Republican Party has fallen into the hands of right-wing radicals who seek to impose a “theocratic utopia” on American culture. The author asserted that “sadomasochism defines the essential character […] of the Republican follower of today.”
In 2010, after years of attending conservative conferences, rallies and demonstrations, Blumenthal met with strong resistance to his smear tactics. Early in the year, he alleged that James O’Keefe, the young reporter who had exposed ACORN with incriminating videotape, was a racist. Then, at the 2010 CPAC conference, Andrew Breitbart and Larry O’Connor confronted Blumenthal about trying to destroy a young man’s reputation with unfounded claims.
In May 2010, Blumenthal continued to target conservatives as racists in the IFC documentary “Fear.” Billed as “an expose of the behind-the-scenes fear and hate-mongering carried out by the GOP and Fox News for political purposes,” the film alleges that the Tea Party movement was not a spontaneous grassroots phenomenon, but a conspiracy by conservatives to provoke “a fearful rebellion, hoping it might topple a President and swing the 2010 midterm elections.”
In December 2010, Blumenthal wrote: “Little of recent American Islamophobia (with a strong emphasis on the ‘phobia’) is sheer happenstance. Years before … the Jewish-American establishment launched a campaign against pro-Palestinian campus activism that would prove a seedbed for everything to come. That campaign quickly — and perhaps predictably — morphed into a series of crusades against mosques and Islamic schools which, in turn, attracted an assortment of shady but exceptionally energetic militants into the network’s ranks.”
Blumenthal has a long history of actions and statements that can accurately be characterized as anti-Semitic. For example:
Blumenthal once spoke at an event held by the British charity War on Want (WoW), which has sponsored numerous anti-Israel events and helped pay for “Israeli Apartheid Week” in February 2016. According to the London Telegraph, undercover recordings showed that these WoW events were replete with “anti-Semitism, demands for the destruction of Israel, [and] naked support for terror.”
In his speech to WoW, Blumenthal lamented that Palestinian young people were being “traumatized” by Israeli transgressions — e.g., “They’ve see their relatives and friends have their limbs ripped apart in front of them. They’ve seen family members killed. They want to recover their dignity.” He decried “Israeli soldiers humilating them and reinforcing a sense of being dominated all the time.” “[O]ne of the ways they [young Palestinians] can find it [their dignity],” Blumenthal explained, “is in the Al Qassam Brigades or another armed faction.” He praised the Nahal Oz operation of 2014, where Palestinians had dug a tunnel from Gaza to the Israeli kibbutz and military base in Nahal Oz, and then dispatched a team of nine Al Qassam Brigade members with video cameras on their helmets, to burst into the Israeli base, where they “killed] every soldier they encounter[ed] in hand-to-hand combat.” According to Blumenthal, that was not only “proof of the advancement of the Al-Qassam Brigades,” but also evidence that the Palestinians “could penetrate the separation policy that Israel had imposed.” “The message it sent to young Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem and abroad” Blumenthal added, “was also incredible” because “finally you see your people in commando uniforms bursting into a military base and showing up the occupier.” By Blumenthal’s reckoning, “that video and other videos like it influenced the ongoing rebellion in the West Bank and Jerusalem, as young Palestinians wanted to demonstrate their own bravery and recover their own dignity after being humiliated under a double occupation of Israel and the Palestinian Authority.” The Telegraph also reports that Blumenthal “compared Israel to the terrorist group ISIL, describing it as ‘the Jewish State of Israel and the Levant, JSIL’.”
In June 2015, Blumenthal appeared with Asim Qureshi, a Hizb ut-Tahrir supporter who has exhorted British Muslims to “support the jihad of our brothers and sisters [abroad] when they are facing the oppression of the West.”
A few days after the July 2, 2016 death of author and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, Blumenthal penned an op-ed for Salon.com, wherein he said: “Through Oprah, Wiesel secured his brand as the high priest of Holocaust theology, the quasi-religion he introduced some 30 years earlier in a New York Times op-ed: ‘The Holocaust [is] the ultimate event,’ he insisted, ‘the ultimate mystery, never to be comprehended or transmitted. Only those who were there know what it was; the others will never know.’ Reflecting on the impact of Wiesel’s work, Brooklyn College political science professor Corey Robin wrote that he had ‘turn[ed] the Holocaust into an industry of middlebrow morality and manipulative sentimentality’ while sacralizing ‘the ovens [as] our burning bush.’ For the masses of Jewish Americans who subscribed to Wiesel’s secular theology, he was a post-war Moses who interceded between the Western world and a catastrophe that substituted for a merciful God. While Wiesel leveraged his literary talents to win sympathy for Jewish victims of genocide, he sought to limit the narratives of other groups subjected to industrial-level extermination.”
In the same op-ed, Blumenthal wrote that Wiesel had “helped cast Jews as history’s ultimate victims” and supported the “segregationist,” “walled-in Spartan state” that is Israel — even “in the face of increasingly unspeakable crimes against Palestinians.” Further, he declared that Wiesel had “helped keep America’s imperial designs safely shrouded in the ghosts of Buchenwald,” and he mirrored the sentiments of fellow Israel-critic Adam Shatz, who stated that Wiesel served as an apologist for great “war crimes.” In addition, Blumenthal noted that Wiesel had invested money with Ponzi-scheme hustler Bernard Madoff, writing: “When federal authorities busted Bernard Madoff’s ponzi scheme in 2008, Wiesel lost the millions he had amassed through his career as writer and lecturer on the Holocaust. To recoup his losses, he turned to the furthest shores of the American right-wing, forging mutually beneficial relationships with a coterie of pro-Israel hate preachers and hustlers.”