Thursday morning, Arthur Jones, a GOP congressional candidate for Illinois’ 3rd district, appeared on CNN’s New Day, where he was asked about his beliefs and confronted about some of the content on his campaign website.
In addition to being a candidate for Congress, Jones is also a former leader of the American Nazi Party and is very open in his belief that the Holocaust was, in his words, an “international extortion racket.”
Jones is running in a heavily Democratic district of Illinois that represents a majority of Chicago and its suburbs. The state and national Republican parties have both disavowed him as a candidate, saying in a statement, “The Illinois Republican Party and our country have no place for Nazis like Arthur Jones.”
So what was he doing on CNN?
Jones spent the majority of his shocking, but largely unsurprising interview with CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on Thursday deploying the kind of rhetoric that one would expect from an admitted Holocaust-denier and white supremacist.
“Are you a Nazi?” Camerota asked.
“Well for the past 15, 20 years, I’ve not had anything to do with any national socialist organization on a formal basis […] I don’t call myself a Nazi. I call myself an American patriot and statesman,” Jones deflected.
Camerota responded by listing Jones’ Nazi credentials: his attendance at neo-Nazi rallies, his involvement in anti-Semitic groups since the 1970s, and the fact that he celebrates Adolf Hitler’s birthday. Jones answered again by claiming he has not been an official member of a National Socialist organization since 1990.
CNN: Nazis are bad.
ACTUAL NAZI: I disagree with you. Nazis are actually good.
Real constructive stuff here! pic.twitter.com/Ph4F08yLlc
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 8, 2018
Jones and Camerota spend the rest of the interview talking over one another, with Jones calling the Holocaust “poppycock” and a “scam” and Camerota eventually closing the conversation in exasperation.
“You can call it whatever you want,” she said.
It’s difficult to understand what anyone gained from the interview, especially given that Jones is hardly a viable candidate. Camerota admitted at the end of the interview that Jones will likely “go down in flames” come election day, since he is the only Republican candidate running in a district that has elected a Democrat in 24 out of the last 25 elections. For all intents and purposes, it seemed that CNN was simply giving air time to a Nazi for ratings.
This is not the first time CNN has given a platform to questionable figures: Sebastian Gorka, who formerly served as deputy assistant to President Donald Trump, has also appeared on CNN in the past. Gorka has been linked to the Hungarian Order of Vitez, or Vitez Rend, a group which the United States Department of State lists as having been “under the direction of the Nazi Government of Germany.”
Gorka has denied being a member of the Vitez Rend and has said that he only wears medals bearing its insignia as a tribute to his late father, “to honor his struggle against totalitarianism.”