Rep. Barbara Lee during a town hall last
April at Laney College in Oakland.
13TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT
East Bay Rep. Barbara Lee is under fire from the right after labeling President Donald Trump‘s new chief of staff John Kelly an “extremist” in a tweet last Friday. Lee also charged Trump with “militarizing the White House” by naming Kelly, a former Marines general and recent director of U.S. Homeland Security.
The firestorm was lit over the weekend after a tweet sent shortly after news that Trump’s former chief of staff Reince Preibus had resigned and Kelly was tapped to replace him. “By putting Gen John Kelly in charge, Pres Trump is militarizing the White House & putting our executive branch in the hands of an extremist,” said Lee, in the tweet.
Lee appeared with CNN host Jake Tapper on Sunday to clarify her tweet. “What I’m talking about is his tenure as homeland security secretary and the very extreme policies of promoting family dislocation, deportation of innocent men, women and children, breaking up families, promoting a Muslim ban, promoting a wall between the United States and Mexico. Those are extreme policies,” said Lee.
Nonetheless, Fox News and Breitbart erupted.
In a stingy commentary from Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro on Sunday, the bombastic host laid into Lee, questioning her patriotism and skewering her with stereotypes involving Berkeley, which Lee represents in Congress, along with Oakland, Alameda, and San Leandro.
“I’m worried all that pot-smoking out there has scrambled your brain,” said Pirro, in reference to Berkeley. “Barbara, your kind of crazy puts all Americans at risk.”
“As we face a nuclear-powered North Korea, Iran, and others who want to destroy this great nation, there is no better person, no better leader, no one more knowledgeable to help the president run the West Wing of the White House than Gen. John Kelly,” Pirro continued.
Conservatives online and on social media also took umbrage with Lee’s statements over the weekend. On some sites, profane and racist comments against Lee were posted.
Breitbart quickly ran a article last Saturday using esoteric connections to assert Lee is a communist.
Lee, largely due to her far-left ideology, is no stranger to these types of political attacks from the right-wing media.
In 2014, former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly focused on Lee when she called out House Speaker Paul Ryan for comments she viewed as racist in tone. O’Reilly featured attacks on Lee for a few days, while calling her a “race hustler.”
But the ferocity of the right’s attacks on Lee over the past few days is somewhat unprecedented even for her. In addition, the right wing news media employed a similar barrage of stories last month using communism as a peg to highlight Lee’s predecessor in Congress, former Rep. Ron Dellums, who was previously serving as a lobbyist with ties to the Russian attorney who met with Donald Trump, Jr. last year in New York City.
In a fundraising email sent Tuesday to Lee’s congressional supporters, it read, “Steve Bannon‘s friends at Breitbart News don’t like that Barbara is a leading voice in the resistance movement.”