Julia Ioffe: The Weaponized Immigrant Journalist

America doesn’t have to send kids to reeducation camps or hold a gun to a journalist’s head get them to produce propaganda for a living.

As Bernie Sanders’ victory prospects increase in probability, the attacks on him being a secret commie agent used by Vladimir Putin to destroy America from within just keep growing and growing. And who can help push these Judeo-Bolshevism Lite smears along and give them “credibility” if not Soviet-Jewish immigrants. They know Russia and they know the Jew! They’re here to warn you!

I give you…[cue laugh track]…Julia Ioffe!

Almost as soon as she published the story — which mainly consisted of conspiratorial interpretations of statements made by a couple of random Russian bureaucrats mixed in with neocon talking points painting Bernie as a dangerous peacenik because he voted against the Magnitsky Act — its larger premise had already unraveled. Turned out the whole “Russia is trying to elect Bernie and Trump” story was pumped up by Democratic Party insiders and then “leaked” to a press that has an insatiable hunger for that kind of nativist disinformation. What a shocker!

But that didn’t mean Julia had to retract or amend her article. There is no need for accuracy or factualness in the Russia reporting business — not as long as you push the imperial line.

A few days later, she forgot that she wrote a fake news story based on a transparent political smear against Sanders and went on CNN to spread the disinfo. Instead — bizarrely and without any apparent self-awareness — she claimed that inaccurate reporting on Russian meddling (exactly the kind that she produced) is bad because it helps Putin and divides America. Huh? What? So that makes Julia what — a Russian dupe?

I’ve previously written a bit about the prominent and sleazy role that Soviet-Jewish immigrant journalists play in feeding and normalizing today spy-fed xenophobic freakout about “the Russians.” And Julia Ioffe is one of best, most cynical examples of this type.

She went from serving as a AIPAC exec at Princeton to being a respected journalist and Russia experts — cycling through the most prestigious publications we have in this great country of ours: the New Yorker, the New Republic, the Atlantic, GQ.

Like her many of other peers, she left the Soviet Union with their parents to get away from antisemitism and repressive state control. She was rescued from totalitarianism. But out here in the free world, she’s built her career on pumping out crude, xenophobic propaganda reporting for the benefit of the American Empire. Her credibility as a Jewish immigrant who escaped from the clutches of the Soviet Union is a big part of what she does. She’s someone who is from “there” and knows “the Russians” better than anyone, and can interpret the unique “threat” they pose to the American Way.

In another life — if her family hadn’t fled the Soviet Union — Julia would have been very successful and happy pumping out propaganda for Putin and his oligarchs on Russian state TV. But instead she’s does it here for our oligarchs and our spies.

You gotta hand it to the American political system. Our ruling class doesn’t have to send kids to reeducation camps or hold a gun to a journalist’s head get them to produce this sleaze for a living. In Julia’s case all that was needed was an education at Princeton, a Fullbright Scholarship, and a pat on the back. And she’s not alone.

I keep meaning to write more in depth about this type of journalist. For a Soviet Jewish immigrant like me, they’re almost a personal embarrassment. They’re also a glaring example of the weaponized immigrant — colonial subjects “rescued” and trained to serve their new imperial masters.

But right now I’m working on a couple of deeper historical pieces for my “Weaponizing Fascism for Democracy” series. So I’m gonna focus on that. Will send something soon. Stand by!

—Yasha Levine

UPDATE: Right on cue, Masha Gessen — America’s most revered Soviet Jewish immigrant journalist — published her own take on Bernie’s socialism in the New Yorker by equating the Soviet Union with Nazi Germany, which has long been an ideological project of European fascist movements. Reminder: the only reason why Masha is alive today is because part of her wealthy Polish family saved itself from genocide by running to Soviet Moscow, where her grandmother then worked for Stalin censoring foreign journalists — including those from the New York Times.


Immigrants as a Weapon is a new investigative newsletter that looks at the weaponization of nationalism and immigrant communities. Check out this introductory post