Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Times Still Suffers From Crown Heights Syndrome 

The Ari Goldman scandal is a gift that keeps on giving. Two weeks ago Goldman, formerly a religion writer for The New York Times, publicly confessed to having remained silent for 20 years about his paper's distorted coverage of the Crown Heights riots. For Goldman, it was up close and personal. He was on the phone, right there in Brooklyn, calling in reports from the streets where black mobs were attacking Jews, yelling "Heil Hitler" and "Kill the Jews!" But, he now tells us, his Times editor found this news not fit to print. There was to be no black anti-Semitism, and no anti-Jewish pogrom in the nation's "paper of record."

Instead, Goldman explained, the Times doctored the news by forcing inconvenient facts into story lines it preferred. In Crown Heights, a Hasidic Jewish driver mistakenly killed a black boy, Galvin Cato, in a car accident, and then blacks rampaged and murdered a Jew, Yankel Rosenbaum. The paper, unhappy with these clear and simple facts, instead told a tall tale: "Blacks and Jews clashed," it reported, implying there was blame on both sides, though neither Goldman - nor anyone else - saw any Jew attacking a black. "Clashed" was simply a lie that enabled the Times to treat the accident that killed Cato and the murder of Rosenbaum as morally equivalent tragedies. That's the "news" they wanted to publish.

Commentators explain that Times editors are disciples of post-modernist theory, now spoon fed to every one of our $25,000-a-semester children in their spa-like centers of "higher education." There is no "truth," you see. That's old-fashioned. There are only "narratives," and each side's version of reality must be given equal treatment (unless that side is the Judeo-Christian); otherwise, we'd all remain stuck for life as morally sick, white-skin-privileged xenophobes.

Goldman, now a journalism professor at Columbia University, has an opportunity to do more than set things straight by outing his paper for fabricating "news reports" 20 years ago; he can explore, as a serious student of journalism might, just how and why the mainstream media has become such a fraudulent enterprise, fulminating fibs, especially but not exclusively about Jews, Christians, Muslims and the Middle East. He could use his own experience in Crown Heights to probe the reasons today's editors rush to equate accidents with murders.

Students dissecting such a topic could almost do a daily lab: The Times concocts a lot!

Take its coverage of the latest round of Gaza-Israel clashes. On Thursday, Arab/Muslim terrorists from Gaza (merely "militants" in Times speak) crossed into southern Israel from Egypt and carried out a carefully laid plot that murdered Israeli men, women and children. The Israelis retaliated and, while killing some terrorist leaders, unfortunately hit and killed Palestinian civilians.

Channeling Crown Heights, the Times worked hard to shift blame to the Jews for the now widening violence. In a story August 21, the Times reported that the Israeli airstrike "ignited cross-border exchanges after months of relative quiet under an informal cease-fire with Hamas." As the media watchdog HonestReporting.com aptly put it, it was as though the clock only started when the Jews responded to attacks. Does there exist a Times editor who would publish the view that the non-Jewish side might be engaging in inexcusably criminal acts that logically should be deterred? Would a Times editor have the capacity to think such a thought?

On the other hand, Timesmen are linguistic magicians: "Cross-border exchanges" implies, as HonestReporting writes, "moral equivalence between Palestinian rocket attacks on Israeli civilian targets and Israeli responses." Evenhandedness uber alles. The SS might have fared pretty well: "Deaths on both sides as Jews and Nazis clash in Warsaw."

Rubbing in the salt, the paper chose to headline its Sunday coverage, "Casualties on Both Sides as Israelis and Gazans trade fire." It's Galvin Cato/Yankel Rosenbaum all over again. Tragedies everywhere, oh my!

Earlier this month, the Times, channeling the old USSR, actually began airbrushing facts it no longer has use for. Last year, the whole world saw dramatic footage of Israeli soldiers, set upon and beaten with staves and pipes, as they slid down on ropes from helicopters onto a flotilla "peace" boat dispatched from Turkey. Even the Times reported it as it happened. But now as it covers Turkey's efforts to extract an apology from Israel, the Times transforms the thuggish attack from a clearly established matter of fact to that of one side's allegation.

CAMERA caught the Times in flagrante delicto: "Isabel Kershner recounted the incident as if it is unknown what happened. 'By Israel's account, the Israeli soldiers met with violent resistance as they landed on the deck,' she wrote." The New York Times," CAMERA explains, "is now "telling readers that maybe the soldiers were met with violence, or maybe they were not." CAMERA notes that even Kershner herself previously reported that "video images... showed Israeli commandos being set upon as they rappelled onto the ship's deck." Stalin, after he killed a former comrade, would have the man's image airbrushed out of published news photos. Et tu, comrade Kershner?

I'm reminded of the old joke: a man's wife catches him in bed with another woman. Without missing a beat, the adulterer screams: "I didn't do it! Who you gonna believe? Me, or your lying eyes?!" The Times adulterates the truth. Jews should get a divorce.


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