'Smear campaign': Conservatives rush to defend well-known antisemitic DeSantis supporter
A Breitbart News article published Tuesday, June 27, exposing the use of antisemitic language by notable Florida Governor Ron DeSantis supporter, Pedro Gonzales, caused an uproar among both conservatives and progressives on Twitter.
Breitbart published messages sent by Pedro L. Gonzales between 2019 and 2020, including, saying "Yeah like not every Jew is problematic, but the sad fact is that most are," in a group chat, as well as, "I am at the point where I can respect Jews as individuals and like them as individuals, but as a group I see them as problematic."
Per the report, "The DeSantis campaign–and DeSantis himself–remain silent at this moment. The pro-DeSantis Super PAC, Never Back Down, however, called Gonzalez's statements as exposed in this article “inexcusable” and made clear that Never Back Down has no relationship with him."
Rolling Stone reports, Gonzalez not only responded to the Breitbart report, defending himself, and calling it a "smear campaign" from former President Donald Trump. But many of his conservative backers ran to his defense, including, "DeSantis-loving journalist Jordan Schachtel," who insisted, "Pedro is a good man."
Another defender includes U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who said, "I support Trump," but added, "I do not support the smears against Pedro."
Gonzalez, defended himself via Twitter, writing: "I am blown away by the amount of support I've received from every corner amid this smear campaign by Trump's camp. I cannot express in words how much it means that so many are standing with me—even those who have vehemently disagreed with me in the past. The only reason my private messages—messages I exchanged with *Trump supporters* from a different, dumb season of my life—are being used against me is that I’ve become the most effective critic of Trump since jumping off the Trump train. I'm going to address the smear at length, but I'm not going to let the Trump campaign silence me. Thanks again so much to everyone who is defending me and offering grace."
Rolling Stone reports:
Gonzalez's antisemitism is not limited to a few messages. Breitbart's piece is rife with examples of his bigotry. Gonzalez's fellow DeSantis supporters are more aghast that the messages were leaked than they are with the countless illustrations of his racism, which they've excused as part of an isolated period of his life way back in 2020. While Gonzalez's supporters have painted the story as political retribution for the pundit's pivot from Trump to DeSantis, Gonzalez said what he said, he said it repeatedly, and some of the Florida governor's most prominent online influencers have responded by lauding him.
Experts, on the other hand, did not rush to defend Gonzalez.
The Nation staff writer Jeet Heer tweeted, "Wait, a young right-wing influencer with ties to GOP politicians is a racist and antisemite? How is this possible? It's only happened 10,000 times in the past."
New York Times columnist David French: "I'm not at all shocked that this dude turned out to be a vicious anti-Semite and obvious racist."
Former White House official Darren J. Beattle said, "The practice of leaking private texts to discredit someone politically is ignoble and counter productive I stand with Pedro Gonzalez here, who has been upstanding in all my dealings with him Everyone would benefit if the Trump DeSantis influencer wars would cool down several notches."
Rolling Stone's full report is available at this link (subscription required).
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