White House policy adviser Stephen Miller used an old anti-Semitic slur when he got into a heated exchange with a CNN reporter, according to a bizarre op-ed Politico published on Thursday afternoon.
In the op-ed, titled “The Ugly History of Stephen Miller’s ‘Cosmopolitan’ Epithet,” writer Jeff Greenfield said Miller’s use of the term “cosmopolitan bias” had its roots in Soviet-era anti-Semitism.
Not once in the op-ed did Greenfield note that Miller himself is Jewish.
Miller accused CNN reporter Jim Acosta on Wednesday of having a “cosmopolitan bias,” after Acosta appeared to state that English-speaking immigrants could only come from the United Kingdom and Australia. The exchange occurred after Miller briefed the press on President Donald Trump’s support for the “RAISE Act,” which would cut down on the number of legal immigrants.
The Politico op-ed also makes no mention of attempts to contact Miller for comment, so it’s hard to know whether Greenfield asked Miller if he was aware of the Soviets’ use of the term in their campaign against elites and intellectuals.
Greenfield did not return messages from LifeZette. Brad Dayspring, a Politico spokesman, said the op-ed was a submission to the online magazine.
The White House also did not respond to a request to speak to Miller.
The tart op-ed seemed to imply it wasn’t a coincidence that Miller used the term.
“Surprise, surprise—the insult has its roots in Soviet anti-Semitism,” read the op-ed’s secondary headline. But it was remarks of that kind that had some thinking Greenfield assumed Miller was not Jewish himself. The missive from Greenfield — a former political analyst for CNN and ABC News, and a former speechwriter for Robert F. Kennedy — was quickly panned online.
“There is not one mention of Miller’s faith in the article accusing him of anti-Semitism,” tweeted Alex Griswold, a reporter at the Washington Free Beacon. “This is a smear job.”
The resulting backlash caused Greenfield to run to Twitter to clarify his dig at Miller.
“No, Miller’s use of ‘cosmopolitan’ wasn’t anti-Semitic,” tweeted Greenfield. “It IS a phrase that’s been used to impugn loyalty in nation after nation.”
Greenfield then denied he made any nefarious implication aimed at Miller: “Did this piece accuse Miller of anti-Semitism? No. Did it trace how illiberal authoritarian have used it? Yes.”
The Media Research Center, a right-leaning journalism watchdog, said the attacks on Miller follow a pattern of scouring the words he used for any bias or politically incorrect words. In this case, it was a word Soviets used to smear Jews in the 1940s.
“Liberals love to play this game of undermining an attack on their elitism by suggesting the anti-elitism is actually bigotry,” said Tim Graham, the center’s research director. “One tossed-off remark has a ‘ugly history’ that goes back centuries. Liberals wouldn’t think it was fair to hear Hillary call opponents ‘deplorable,’ and then try to claim that this term was somehow used decades ago by some group of dictators or rampaging cannibals, and somehow you can tie her to that.”
He said conservatives understood what Miller meant — that liberals and CNN journalists understand only their liberal politics.
“Conservatives hear ‘cosmopolitan’ and think ‘secular progressive with loads of disdain for flyover country,'” said Graham.