Pro-Trump Cartoonist Sues ADL for $10 Million for Calling Him Anti-Semitic

Conservative political cartoonist Ben Garrison has sued the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) for allegedly defaming him by labelling one of his cartoons anti-Semitic.

The lawsuit, filed on July 10, seeks $10.35 million in damages. It claims that the ADL caused Garrison "insult, embarrassment, humiliation, mental suffering, anguish, injury to his name and professional reputation, and loss of business" by alleging anti-Semitism in a 2017 cartoon featuring liberal Jewish philanthropist George Soros, a frequent figure of scorn by the far-right.

Garrison claims additional anguish occurred when he was disinvited from a White House social media event in 2019 after the ADL alerted the administration to the charge of anti-Semitism. The cartoonist is an ardent supporter of President Donald Trump, with several of his cartoons depicting the 74-year-old Trump as a noticeably more youthful figure who often boasts a bodybuilder-like physique while vanquishing his political opponents with ease.

"The ADL is engaged in a targeted campaign of defamation to destroy Garrison's reputation and livelihood," the lawsuit claims. "ADL operatives throughout the country have excessively published the false and defamatory statement that Garrison is anti-Semitic."

The cartoon accused of anti-Semitism depicts Soros as a puppet being controlled by a green-tinted hand emerging from a curtain labelled "Rothschilds," an apparent reference to the wealthy Jewish family that has long been central to anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

Former General David Petraeus and Trump's former national security adviser H.R. McMaster, who was forced out of his position after a tumultuous tenure that included criticism from the right and policy disagreements with Trump, both appear as puppets being controlled by Soros.

Anti-Defamation League logo
The Anti-Defamation League was accused of defamation in a lawsuit by pro-Trump political cartoonist Ben Garrison. Ari Perilstein/Getty

The ADL published an article to its website criticizing the cartoon, which it described as "blatantly anti-Semitic," after it appeared on a website called "McMaster Leaks." The site was run by alt-right commentator Mike Cernovich, a prominent supporter of the "Pizzagate" conspiracy theory—which falsely claimed that Democrats were involved child sex trafficking ring being run out of a Washington, D.C. pizza restaurant.

"The anti-Semitic theme of the Garrison cartoon is impossible to miss and individuals on social media complained about it," the ADL wrote, before mentioning that Cernovich later posted an edited version of the cartoon that cropped out the "Rothschild" reference.

The lawsuit claims that the ADL "knew" that Garrison "was not anti-Semitic" before they published the article alleging anti-Semitism. It also defends the cartoon by insisting that the conspiracy theory it depicts is in fact true.

"Prior to publication of the ADL Article, ADL knew that the Rothschilds controlled Soros and that Soros controlled McMaster," the lawsuit claims.

The ADL is also accused of "trolling" Garrison by posting a doctored version of a drawing featuring former Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, replacing Bernanke with an anti-Semitic Jewish caricature. A note to the ADL's post later clarified that the original cartoon "had no anti-Semitic intent," while the doctored version had "appeared on numerous conspiratorial web sites."

Garrison's cartoons have remained popular among conservatives regardless of claims of anti-Semitism and links to evidence-free conspiracy theories. On Monday, White House Deputy Chief of Staff Daniel Scavino, Jr., shared a Garrison cartoon disparaging infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci as "Dr. Faucet" for advocating preventative measures to counter skyrocketing COVID-19 cases, which has drawn the ire of some conservatives.

Newsweek reached out to ADL, who declined to comment on this story, citing the pending litigation.