Doug Mastriano Faces Criticism Over His Backing From Antisemitic Ally
Doug Mastriano, the Republican nominee for governor of Pennsylvania, is increasingly being watched for his connections to far-right social media platform Gab and its founder, who has repeatedly made anti-Semitic comments to defend their ties.
Earlier this month, news broke that Mr. Mastriano Gab, a haven for white nationalists and users banned from other platforms, had paid $5,000 for “consulting.” according to a state file that was first discovered by Media Matters for America, a liberal watchdog group.
Since then, Mr Mastriano, a far-right state senator who has falsely claimed that the 2020 presidential election was stolen and who rarely speaks to traditional news media, has ignored criticism of his association with Gab.
But the platform’s founder and chief executive, Andrew Torba, has hit back — most recently with an anti-Jewish trope.
“We are no longer bending the knee to the 2 percent,” Mr Torba said in a video this week, a clear reference to the country’s raw percentage that is Jewish.
Mr Torba responded to: an appearance on MSNBC on Tuesday by Jonathan Greenblatt, the chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, in which he criticized Mr Mastriano for using Gab to post messages and recruit political supporters.
Mr. Torba and his platform support Christian nationalism, the view that America was founded to promote Christians and biblical values.
“We are taking back our country,” he added. “We’re taking back our government, so deal with it.”
“Andrew Torba is one of the most toxic people in public life right now,” Mr. Goldblatt told MSNBC. “Elected officials who engage in this kind of rhetoric are not only flirting with fascism, they are bringing it to the forefront of their political argument.”
Shortly after the payment of the Mastriano campaign, in April, mr. Torba interviewed Mr. Mastrian on his site, when the candidate told him, “Thank God for what you’ve done.”
Before the May 17 primary in Pennsylvania, Gab supported Mr. Mastriano, who has spearheaded Republican efforts to reverse the 2020 results in the state.
Mr. Mastriano won the nomination in a divided field, despite warnings from some Republican officials that he was too extreme to win in November. Recent polls have shown he is running an unexpectedly exciting race against Democratic candidate Josh Shapiro.
According to reports by HuffPostcould pay Mr. Mastriano Gab to increase his following on the site: New users seemed to be automatically assigned as followers of the Republican candidate.
In a series of live-streamed videos over the past few days, Pennsylvania-based Mr Torba has repeatedly responded to criticisms of him and Mr Mastriano by reinforcing his own Christian-nationalist and anti-Semitic views.
The Jerusalem Post quoted Mr Torba on Tuesday as saying in a video that neither he nor Mr Mastriano would give interviews to non-Christian journalists.
“My policy is not to interview journalists who are not Christian or media that are not Christian, and Doug has a very similar media strategy of not doing interviews with these people,” Mr Torba reportedly said. “He doesn’t talk to these people. He does not give press access to these people. These people are dishonest. They are liars. They’re a viper’s den and they want to destroy you.’
Mr Mastriano did not respond to a request for comment sent to his campaign.
Mr Torba, who was asked for details about his consultation agreement with Mr Mastriano, replied in an email: “I only speak to Christian news channels.”
Both Republican and Democratic Jewish leaders have called for Mr. Mastriano to leave Gab. “We urge Doug Mastriano to end his association with Gab, a social network rightly viewed by Jewish Americans as a cesspool of bigotry and anti-Semitism,” said Matt Brooks, the executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition. told The Philadelphia Inquirer last week.
in Pittsburgh, Jewish and black leaders condemned Mr Mastriano for his association with Gab, who was used to post anti-Semitic attacks by the man accused of butchering 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018.
Shapiro, the state attorney general, began an investigation into Gab after the murders, though he eventually dropped it.
On Monday, Mr. Shapiro, who is Jewish, appealed to donors in a tweet to “stop” Mr Mastriano, who he says “Gab — the same platform that enabled the Tree of Life killer — to pay thousands of dollars to recruit anti-Semites and white supremacists for his campaign.”