April 25, 1977 |
Johannesburg, South Africa
|Residence||Santa Monica, California, U.S.|
|Education||Harvard University (A.B.), University of Cape Town (M.A.), Harvard University (J.D.)|
|Known for||Nominee for U.S. Representative for Illinois, 9th District|
|Political party||Democrat prior to 2006|
Joel Barry Pollak (born April 25, 1977) is a South African-born American political commentator and author. He serves as the senior-editor-at-large for Breitbart News Network. In 2010 he was the Republican nominee for U.S. Congress from Illinois's 9th congressional district, losing decisively to incumbent Democrat Jan Schakowsky with 31% of the vote.
Pollak was born to an Orthodox Jewish family in Johannesburg, South Africa but his parents emigrated to the United States shortly after his birth. He became a U.S. citizen in 1987. He grew up in the Chicago suburbs, principally in Skokie. He attended Solomon Schechter Day School and Niles North High School, where he was the class valedictorian in 1995.
Pollak attended Harvard College and graduated magna cum laude in 1999 with a joint degree in Social Studies and Environmental Science & Public Policy (ESPP). He earned a master's degree in Jewish Studies from the University of Cape Town in 2006. He then enrolled at Harvard Law School. He married Julia Inge Pollak (née Bertelsmann) in December 2009. They have a daughter named Maya (b. February 1, 2012).
In 2010 Pollak was the Republican nominee for U.S. Congress from Illinois's 9th congressional district, challenging incumbent Democrat Jan Schakowsky, whom he had voted for while still a Democrat (prior to 2006). He lost, garnering 31.1% of the votes to Schakowsy's 66.3%. Pollak was endorsed by the Chicago Tea Party and refers to himself as a Tea Party Republican.
After losing the election, Pollak was asked by Andrew Breitbart to become in-house counsel at his Breitbart.com websites, and Pollak moved to California. He later became editor-in-chief of the website.
After Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields alleged she was attacked by Donald Trump presidential campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, leaked internal memos showed that Pollak ordered staffers to stop defending Fields. Pollak also posted a lengthy article to the website questioning Fields's account of the incident. Fields and fellow editor Ben Shapiro resigned over the incident, and questioned the site's support of Trump.
Pollak’s first book, The Kasrils Affair: Jews and Minority Politics in the New South Africa (Double Storey, 2009), is based on his master’s thesis and uses debates involving the Jewish community as a window onto minority politics in general in post-apartheid South Africa. His second book, Don’t Tell Me Words Don’t Matter: How Rhetoric Won the 2008 Presidential Election (HC Press, 2009) is self-published and describes the role played by speeches in Barack Obama’s victory over John McCain. Pollak's third book, See No Evil: 19 Hard Truths The Left Can't Handle, was released in 2016.
Pollak has written numerous op-eds and articles. While in law school, he wrote for the Harvard Law Record and alleged on his blog that Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat faked his blood donation for the victims of the 9/11 terror attacks.
- Byers, Dylan (October 17, 2013). "Breitbart News shakes up masthead". Politico. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
- Felsenthal, Carol (1 March 2012). Andrew Breitbart's Right-Hand Man: Skokie-Bred Joel Pollak, Chicago (magazine)
- "Joel Pollak, Republican Candidate for Congress, 9th District of Illinois". Pollakforcongress.com. Retrieved 2010-03-29.
- "Joel Pollak, About". Pollakforcongress.com. Retrieved 2010-06-18.
- Felsenthal, Carol (April 12, 2010). "So What's a Nice Jewish Boy from Skokie Doing with Tea Partiers?". Chicago magazine.
- "Alumnae News: Wedding: Julia Bertelsmann & Joel Pollak". St. Cyprian's School. Retrieved March 8, 2012.
- Pollak, Joel B. (2010-06-10). "Why I'm Running as a Tea Party Republican". The Wall Street Journal.
- Felsenthal, Carol (30 September 2011). Joel Pollak on Anthony Weiner, Andrew Breitbart, and Why Sarah Palin Could Be the First Jewish President, Chicago (magazine)
- "Breitbart Editor Ordered Staffers To Stop Defending Michelle Fields". BuzzFeed. Retrieved 2016-03-14.
- Kaplan, Sarah (2016-03-14). "Reporter who says she was manhandled by Trump campaign manager resigns from Breitbart". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2016-03-14.
- Pollak, Joel B. (2009). The Kasrils Affair: Jews and Minority Politics in Post-Apartheid South Africa. [Cape Town]: Double Storey. ISBN 978-1919895079.
- "Don't Tell Me Words Don't Matter Official Site". Donttellmewordsdontmatter.net. Retrieved 2010-03-29.
- "Guide to the Perplexed". Guidetotheperplexed.blogspot.com. 2008-01-17. Retrieved 2010-03-29.