At Saturday night's Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton ripped into Donald Trump's recent comments about banning Muslim immigration, saying that the Republican frontrunner was "becoming ISIS's best recruiter." Her evidence was that Trump had been featured in ISIS videos — a claim her campaign recanted by Sunday morning:
[Americans] need to make sure that the really discriminatory messages that Trump is sending around the world don't fall on receptive ears. He is becoming ISIS's best recruiter. They are going to people, showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists.
On Sunday morning Clinton's communications director tried to clean up Hillary's claim, conceding: "She didn't have a particular video in mind." She added that Trump is being used in social media efforts by extremists, generally.
I asked J.M. Berger, an expert on ISIS's social media and the author of ISIS: The State of Terror, whether he had seen any videos featuring Trump. He said no, though he did say Trump has been mentioned in social media.
"I would be surprised if they had and we didn't hear about it in a big way," Berger tweeted.
However, ISIS puts out a lot of videos, and it's possible that Clinton is referencing one Berger isn't familiar with. "I haven't been watching scrupulously lately, but they have enjoyed him in tweets at least," Berger said.
Clinton's basic point Saturday night — that Trump whipping up anti-Muslim fervor helps ISIS — is sound. Anti-Muslim and anti-refugee rhetoric does, in fact, help ISIS, by helping its core recruiting message (that the West is fundamentally more hostile to Islam) seem more credible.