Journalist Julia Ioffe has experienced this kind of harassment before: in Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
In the 24 hours since her profile of Donald Trump’s wife, Melania, appeared in GQ magazine , the Russian-American journalist has received a torrent of antisemitic, vitriolic and threatening messages from supporters of the Republican frontrunner.
In the deeply disturbing response to her piece, Ioffe said she sees a frightening future of what freedom of the press – and the country – might look like under a President Trump.
“What happens if Donald Trump is elected?” Ioffe said. “We’ve seen the way he bids his supporters to attack the media, his proposal to change libel laws to make it easier to sue journalists.”
On Thursday, she answered a phone call from an anonymous caller who played a Hitler speech. She received another call from “Overnight Caskets”. On Twitter, users posted photos of her face superimposed on a mug shot from Auschwitz. The Daily Stormer, a white supremacist site, attacked Ioffe in a blog post titled: “Empress Melania Attacked by Filthy Russian Kike Julia Ioffe in GQ!”
Ioffe is one of America’s top feature writers. A former staff member at the liberal New Republic magazine, she freelances for publications such as the New Yorker and New York Times.
Her GQ profile of Melania Trump revealed that the the Slovenian model – and the billionaire’s third wife – has a half-brother who the family was not in contact with.
The profile included an interview with Melania Trump , who has since expressed her disappointment with the piece in a statement online.
Like her husband, who often blames the media for covering him unfairly, she called the article “yet another example of the dishonest media and their disingenuous reporting” in a Facebook post. She accused Ioffe of having an agenda, and said that her parents were private citizens who “should not be subject to Ms Ioffe’s unfair scrutiny”.
“This is not a heavily critical article. There is nothing in it that is untrue,” Ioffe said. “If this is how Trump supporters swing into action what happens when the press looks into corrupt dealings, for example, or is critical of his policies?”
Ioffe worked as a reporter in Moscow for three years. During this period, she experienced antisemitism and witnessed colleagues receive bouquets of funeral flowers at work. But never as a journalist working in the United States.
“The irony of this is that today, when I was getting all of this horrible antisemitic shit that I’ve only ever seen in Russia, I was reminded that 26 years ago today my family came to the US from Russia. We left Russia because we were fleeing antisemitism,” Ioffe said. “It’s been a rude shock for everyone.”