The “Useful Idiots” co-host is dismissed from The Hill, which is a little too frank about the reason
The longtime co-host of Useful Idiots, Katie Halper, made headlines last week, and not for any reasons she would have asked for. Katie was fired from a part-time hosting arrangement at The Hill’s Rising, whose editor told her an editorial critical of Israeli policies in Palestine was “not in our sweet spot of coverage.”
Rising grew a significant audience as an independent media vehicle between 2019 and 2021, when it was hosted by the left-right team of Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti. It has since undergone changes, piloted for a time by Intercept reporter Ryan Grim and Emily Jashinsky of The Federalist, and ultimately moving to a new incarnation featuring Briahna Joy Gray and Robby Soave. Part of the hosting job involves monologues called “radars.” Katie, who had a fill-in arrangement at the outlet for years, was let go over just such a radar. You can see it above.
The controversy began when Michigan Democrat Rashida Tliab spoke at an online seminar on September 20th and said, “It has become clear that you cannot claim to hold progressive values, yet back Israel’s apartheid government.” Tliab gave her talk in the wake of the shooting of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed in the West Bank City of Jenin in May. Abu Akleh’s family met with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken in July, and asked the International Criminal Court to open a case two weeks ago, simultaneous to Tlaib’s seminar.
Tliab’s comments inspired an immediate reaction from the Anti-Defamation League, which deemed them anti-Semitic. CEO Jonathan Greenblatt ripped Tliab for ostensibly telling “American Jews they must pass an anti-Zionist litmus test to participate in progressive spaces.” The ADL reaction got wide play on stations like CNN.
Katie’s “Radar” argues Tliab’s comments laid bare what has long been a source of tension among self-described progressives, who often tiptoe around the subject of occupied Palestine. As you’ll see above, she approached her subject with great care, leaning on statements from groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Agree with her or not, her editorial certainly wasn’t fake news, or flippant, or gratuitous. It’s what the media business normally wants: a decisive, well-argued opinion.
However, the Hill thought otherwise, and what makes the situation unusual is a media company saying the proverbial quiet part out loud. When editors refused to run the “Radar,” Katie asked flat-out if the problem was the subject of Israel. Though there was some hemming and hawing (at one point she was told the problem was that the show’s focus was on domestic and not foreign policy, despite running content about Brazilian elections, Italy’s new prime minister, and multiple Ukraine pieces that week), eventually they just told her that was, in fact, the case. The next day, she was let go via a curt email ending, “We wish you all the best.”