It’s that time of year.
The call from the editor echoes across the newsroom, repeating words that perhaps dozens of editors before her have said.
“Guys!” she shouts. “We need a fact-check on how George Soros was not a Nazi!”
“No!” her team cries. “We just published one last year!”
“Too bad,” the editor says sternly. “Right-wing Twitter in India is at it again.”
So, here we are. This time, we can blame that champion of free media, Arnab Goswami.
Here’s how it played out.
First, Arnab’s rant on digital media
Everyone loves to hate George Soros. This we know and we know it well. Recently, he popped up in India’s collective imagination again because he that Modi and Adani are “close allies” and that Modi is “no democrat”.
External affairs minister Jaishankar that Soros is “old, rich and dangerous”.
So far, so good.
Then along came Arnab , demanding that #SorosMedia come clean.
“Soros,” said Goswami, his hands raised like a magician, “the allegedly evil Soros, has given a lot of money to a lot of people in the Indian news and especially the Indian digital news ecosystem”, aka #SorosMedia. He explained that #SorosMedia was dishonest about taking money from Soros through forex transfers, entities operating in tax havens, escrow accounts, and debt financing.
Side-note: Shoutout to Arnab for learning the word “allegedly” and using it with great enunciation just in case his many “sources” were duds.
“The ironical part is these completely blemished #SorosMedia then ask the non-#SorosMedia ethical questions the #SorosMedia asks the non-#SorosMedia, non-#SorosMedia tell us who owns the news!”
No, there’s no error in transcribing, it’s just the Arnab-bot malfunctioning from the intense weight of his righteous indignation.
The media must be free and fair, uninfluenced by corporate or state interests. That's why you, the public, need to pay to keep news free.
Anyway, he then said the Republic Media Network is “100% swadeshi” because that’s really what matters, while #SorosMedia “have been completely lying and constantly lying and saying ‘Oh, you got to pay to keep the news free!’”
Finally, a spark of sense sandwiched between all that drivel. Yes, you’ve got to pay to keep news free. Not because of bogus theories about a Soros bogeyman, but because channels like Republic are allowed to spout these theories without a shred of fact. Independent media is not the villain here – independent media is the only entity holding these charlatans to account.
So, yes. You got to pay to keep the news free! , even if Arnab thinks not even “one rupee” should be given because we’re all apparently living the high life thanks to “Uncle Soros”.
Next, the noise about Nazis
Now, . Guests included ANI editor Smita Prakash, TV talking head Abhijit Iyer-Mitra, journalist Renu Mittal, Manipal University chairman Mohandas Pai, and Samajwadi Party’s Ghanshyam Tiwari.
At the 31-minute mark, Arnab asked whether the “losers are beginning their campaign for 2024 in New York and London”. This is basically while criticising the timing of the infamous BBC documentary that’s occupied airtime in Indian TV news since last month.
Abhijit said George Soros is the “B-team of the BJP” because he helps it get votes apparently by spouting nonsense? And that he pushes “discredited theories” like fascism existing in India.
“You tell me,” he said, “what Indian is willing to listen to a nonagenarian Nazi who actually used to round up people – his own people – to send to gas chambers and confiscate their property?”
And there you have it. “Ya,” said Arnab approvingly as Abhijit spoke.
Arnab then said, “You’ve got to be pretty desperate, Ghanshyam, to take money from a Nazi. Now, George Soros is a Nazi because he was with the Nazis.”
He added sadly, “It’s horrible, isn’t it? It’s horrible.”
Ghanshyam said Arnab should direct these questions to Jaishankar’s son, the implication being that Dhruva Jaishankar worked at foundations funded by, among others, Soros.
Appalled, Arnab called that a “classic tactic”, everyone spoke over everybody else for several minutes, and it was all in a day’s work for Republic TV.
Finally, the facts
So, the main source for Soros’s purported Nazism is . Journalist Steve Kroft interviewed Soros on his show 60 Minutes in 1998.
Among other things, at the 6:50 mark, Kroft took viewers “back to the beginning” to explore Soros’s family. Soros was born in Budapest, his parents were “wealthy, well-educated and Jewish” and, after the Nazi occupation of Budapest, his father knew there were “problems ahead”.
Using forged papers, his father “bribed a government official to take 14-year-old George Soros in and swear that he was his Christian godson”.
Kroft said: “But survival carried a heavy price tag. While hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews were being shipped off to the death camps, George Soros accompanied his phoney godfather on his appointed rounds, confiscating property from the Jews.”
Then followed a back and forth between Kroft and Soros, which we’ll reproduce in full because the context is important – and it’s this lack of context that allows right-wing loons to leap to conclusions.
Kroft: You’re a Hungarian Jew who escaped the Holocaust by posing as a Christian.
Kroft: And you watched lots of people get shipped off to the death camps.
Soros: Right. I was 14 years old. And I would say that that’s when my character was made.
Kroft: In what way?
Soros: That one should think ahead. One should understand and anticipate events. And one is threatened – it was a tremendous threat of evil, I mean, it was a very personal experience of evil.
Kroft: My understanding is you went out with this protector of yours who swore that you were his adopted godson.
Kroft: Went out, in fact, and helped in the confiscation of property from the Jews.
Soros: That’s right.
Kroft: That sounds like an experience that would send lots of people to the psychiatric couch for many, many years. Was it difficult?
Soros: Not at all. Not at all. Maybe as a child you don’t see the connection but it was – it created no problem at all.
Kroft: No feeling of guilt?
Kroft: For example, ‘I’m Jewish and here I am, watching these people go. I could just as easily be there, I should be there.’ None of that?
Soros: Well, of course, I could be on the other side, or I could be the one from whom the thing is being taken away. But there was no sense that I shouldn’t be there because that was, well actually, in a funny way, it’s just like in markets. That if I weren’t there – of course, I wasn’t doing it – but somebody else would be taking it away anyhow. Whether I was there or not, I was only a spectator. The property was being taken away. So, I had no role in taking away the property. So, I had no sense of guilt.
So, there’s your damning evidence. A 14-year-old hid his identity to protect himself from sure death – something thousands of Jews tried to do at the time (see , , , and , for example). The majority of posts about Soros being a Nazi point to the fact that, when asked by Kroft if he felt guilt, he said “no”.
Of course, he went on to explain it at great length seconds later, but what fun is context when it contradicts the point you’re trying to make?
If you’d like to read other fact-checks about how George Soros was not a Nazi, see , , and . And if you’re worried about media ownership and the spectre of Soros, we’ve got you covered. Check out Newslaundry’s series for all the details.
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