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Who’s Afraid of Elise Stefanik?

Media attempt to hang 'great replacement' theory around the neck of GOP conference chairwoman

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R., N.Y.) / Getty Images
• May 24, 2022 5:00 am

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We thought the Washington Post hit some kind of bottom last week when it tried to blame the third-ranking House Republican, Rep. Elise Stefanik (N.Y.), for a madman's shooting spree at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York.

We were wrong. They followed up on Monday with a thinly veiled political attack aimed at pressuring corporate donors to sever ties with the Republican conference chairwoman. Democracy dies when opinionated young women hold leadership positions, or something.

The first article, by Marianna Sotomayor, dredged up a Facebook ad Stefanik's campaign ran last year, arguing that she is guilty of having "echoed" a version of the so-called great replacement theory espoused by the Buffalo shooter, which holds that the Left is engaged in an electoral ploy to replace white Republican voters with Democrat-voting immigrants.

The ad in question seized on Democrats' push to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants, arguing that it would "overthrow our current electorate and create a permanent liberal majority in Washington"—that is, that legalizing 11 million illegal immigrants at Democrats' behest would create a lot more Democratic voters than it would Republican. That's about as controversial as saying that legalization would strain the social safety net.

For the Post, that wasn't the end of the story. In their quest to slander Republicans as white nationalists—remember the New York Times‘s 18,000 word, three-part series on Tucker Carlson?—the Post unearthed this scoop: "Stefanik echoed ‘great replacement' theory. But firms kept donating."

This is political activism dressed up as journalism, and poorly so. From the naming and shaming of companies and their CEOs to the charge of hypocrisy—they said they supported racial justice!—and the obvious intent to cut off mainstream corporate support to one of the country's most prominent Republicans. In fact, the leftwing political activist and former ThinkProgress chief Judd Legum has used journalistic tactics to do just this at his Substack, Popular Information, where he is open about his biases, goals, and political leanings.

The tactic will surely fail with Republicans likely to take back the House in just a few short months. Corporate America may be craven, but it isn't stupid. Still, to the extent these kinds of attacks succeed in persuading corporations to close their pocketbooks, the result will be to empower more ideological, more extreme, and less pragmatic donors.

We look forward to the day that Amazon cuts a check to Representative Stefanik, or Chairwoman Stefanik, or Speaker Stefanik, confident in two things: It will buy the company no undue influence, and the Posties won't make a peep.