CNN anchor Jake Tapper is facing blowback Tuesday for suggesting that Sen. Josh Hawley's insult of a writer as a "smug, rich liberal elitist" was anti-Semitic.
It all began Monday when Hawley blasted a piece written in The Washington Post by former Agriculture Department research economist Andrew Crane-Droesch, who accused Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue of wanting researchers to "quit their jobs" after he announced that Crane-Droesch's department would be relocating from Washington D.C. to Missouri.
"We didn’t need to sit next to a corn field to analyze agricultural policy, and Perdue knew that," Crane-Droesch wrote.
The Republican lawmaker knocked Crane-Droesch as a "DC bureaucrat" for suggesting that moving to his state of Missouri was "punishment."
"I assume this is a parody, right?" Hawley asked in a tweet. "DC bureaucrats aren’t actually saying out loud that moving to Missouri is ... punishment, are they? Because surely nobody could be that condescending & elitist."
That prompted criticism from Post opinion writer Greg Sargent, who replied, "What's really 'condescending' here is the sort of smarmy, smirking contempt for people's intelligence that @HawleyMO is displaying. Coming from a leading intellectual light of the new 'conservative nationalism,' this unmasks the phony pastoral posturing that lies at its core."
Hawley shot back, telling Sargent, "Only a smug, rich liberal elitist would say that defending your home is 'phony pastoral posturing,' whatever that means. No, Greg, I don’t think living in Missouri is 'punishment.' But this is the new left: utter, open contempt for the people of the heartland and all we love."
Sargent went on to write a piece of his own accusing Hawley of trying to "humiliate" him by labeling him a "smug, rich liberal elitist." He suggested that Hawley's attack had a "truly ugly intent and meaning" and went on to expand on his working-class background to debunk the notion that he himself was part of the "elite."
Sargent briefly addressed his religious background. "We went to Seders at my mother’s parents’ house in Queens — they were descended from Jewish immigrants — and also decorated an annual Christmas tree in keeping with my father’s Catholic upbringing. But there was no god in our house."
Tapper, however, highlighted Sargent as a "Jewish journalist" in the apparent dig at Hawley.
"In which @HawleyMO calls a Jewish journalist a 'smug, rich liberal elitist,'" Tapper tweeted.
Hawley rejected Tapper's insinuation and doubled down on his defense of Missouri.
"For defending my homestate of Missouri, liberal media have called me 'phony,' 'ugly,' 'smarmy,' a racist and now an anti-Semite. All in 24 hrs," Hawley reacted. "This is how they bully those who aren’t part of the DC club. But I don’t care what slurs they use, I will ALWAYS defend Missouri."
Tapper responded by denying he tried to "label" Hawley as anything, adding, "You used those terms to describe a Jewish journalist. Why did you say Greg was 'rich'? What is it about him that suggests he’s wealthy?"
The prominent CNN anchor was slammed for the tweet, with some critics invoking the appearance of prominent white nationalist Richard Spencer on his show and his recent on-air grievance that Republican lawmakers won't sit down with him.