The New York Times Continues to Misreport the Trump Executive Order on Antisemitism

Once can be an honest mistake; now it looks intentional

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

The Times caused a freakout yesterday when it both misleadingly reported that the Trump administration was poised to issue an executive order "redefining Judaism as a nationality," and failed to provide any context, including the fact that both the Bush II and Obama administrations had used the same reasoning as the Trump executive order, to wit: Jews are covered by Title VI's prohibition on race and national-origin discrimination to the extent that such discrimination is based not on hostility to Jews as a religion, but to Jews as an ethnic group with perceived common characteristics. Its initial report also failed to note that the liberal antisemitism watchdog group, the ADL, which is no friend of the Trump administration and has been highly–and at times unfairly, as when its officials falsely blamed Trump for inspiring a rash of bomb threat hoaxes in 2017–critical of Trump with regard to antisemitism, supports the executive order.

After causing the freakout, the Times improved but didn't really correct its piece, and was pilloried on Twitter, including by liberals, for its bad reporting.

Unfortunately, this didn't dissuade the Times, which tonight posted a hit piece on Ken Marcus, head of the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights, for his role in the executive order. (Conflict of interest watch: I know and like Ken.) You will not learn from this piece that the executive order originated in language from a bill sponsored by Democrats, nor that it has direct antecedents in Obama and Bush II administration policy. Instead, the reporter, Erica Green, asserts that Marcus "has asserted a Jewish 'national origin' by fiat," as if it didn't reflect policy established in the Bush administration and adhered to by the Obama administration.

Either Ms. Green didn't bother to inquire about the history of the relevant Title VI controversy, which makes her incompetent, or she did, and it makes her dishonest. Either way, it's further evidence that anyone who wants objective, competent news reporting about the Trump administration can't look to the Times.

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  1. Either way, it’s further evidence that anyone who wants objective, competent news reporting about the Trump administration can’t look to the Times.

    AM Rosenthal would be horrified at today’s NYT.

  2. Question: Did the ADL ever admit that the bomb threats mostly came from a confused teenager in Israel and apologize? Or did they, like most other elite organizations, just go on to tell more and newer lies?

  3. OK, here’s the order, sorry if it’s been posted before:

    https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/executive-order-combating-anti-semitism/

    It incorporates standards from an outfit called the International Holocaust Memorial Alliance. I hadn’t heard of these guys before, but it was founded by a former Swedish prime minister according to its Web site, so I’m guessing it’s not an alt-right front group.

    The standards refer to “[r]hetorical” forms of anti-semitism, which could be a problem vis-a-vis the 1st Amendment, but the EO specifically requires protection of First Amendment rights, so I guess that’s OK, right?

    1. “alt-right front group… responsible for philo-Semitic advocacy”

      Right and left are meaningless nowadays.

  4. The quality of writers at the NYT continues to plummet

    1. They reached their nadir with Walter Duranty, and never recovered.

  5. Nice to see a strong opinion on the issue, David! Can you suggest an appropriate venue where we can get “objective, competent news reporting” today?

    1. No.

    2. The Rodong Sinmun, but that’s only objective and competent relative to the rest.

    3. Anything remotely interesting, you need to sample various news outlets, left, right, authoritarian, libertarian, and contrarian, wait several days, and see what shakes out.

    4. The Onion?

    5. RealClearPolitics, plus a healthy dose of reading between the lines.

      By taking news from all sides of the political spectrum, one can gain a reasonable approximation for what’s really happening.

      1. According to Political Wire, RealClear operated a far right website by the name Conservative Country, while this website is no longer in existence the associated Facebook Page has 800,000+ followers. The Facebook Page publishes pro-Trump, anti-immigrant, Islamophobic, far right memes and information, many of which link back to RealClear properties.

        At least pick a source that’s honest about it’s background.

        1. Realclear literally links to other sites for the most part. Atlantic, Vox, TPM…

          You are so dumb. This isnt even the first time I’ve pointed this out to you.

          1. Yeah, link curation can’t be biased.
            Good lord.

            Their polling is legit. Or legit as polling can get.

    6. Hotair seems legit, according to the OP.

      (I’m largely kidding – Allahpundit is pretty great.)

    7. Read multiple sources who have wildly different world views, and then see what they agree on.

      Rachel Maddow and Sean Hannity might seem like they’re in complete opposition, but both favor the expansion of the state when they think it’s their bread that will be buttered. But if Hannity, Maddow, wsws.org (socialists), Reason, Xinhua, and Al Jazeera all agree on something it’s almost definitely the right take. And if they disagree you’ll see the competing arguments and decide for yourself what’s really going on.

      For example, I read Reason and the socialist news above, listen to the podcast The News and Why it Matters (Glen Beck, conservative with a hint of libertarian), Ben Shapiro (conservative with a chunk of libertarian), and watch Rachel Maddow and Bill Maher. I also add in Xinhua (Chins), RT (Russia), Al Jazeera (Qatar), and a few others as needed for global issues. It’s a pretty good mix of content from a variety of viewpoints, but everyone is biased, and probably worse so if they deny it.

  6. Wouldn’t it be simpler to just note when the NYT doesn’t misreport something concerning the Trump administration?

    1. Are you volunteering? You can start here–I see no misreporting in this story about Trump’s misuse of millions in charitable funds.

      https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/10/nyregion/trump-foundation-lawsuit-attorney-general.html?smid=nytcore-ios-share

      I’m so old, I can remember when stealing money from charities would have been regarded as a significant lapse! With Trump, it’s barely new information.

      1. “I’m so old, I can remember when stealing money from charities would have been regarded as a significant lapse!”

        You remember a time before the Clinton Foundation?

        1. Nope, sorry, try again, has never even been alleged as to the Clinton Foundation, thanks for playing!

              1. ‘Unproven’ on snopes.com means ‘True’, this website has the worse liberal bias in fact checking.

                1. Indeed, they’ll confirm all the factual elements of a story, and then declare it a lie based on not liking the implications.

                  In this case, note that they liberally lard the story down with irrelevant slams against Trump. As though anything about Trump is even remotely relevant to whether the allegation is true. When one of their “fact checks” keeps bringing up irrelevant political matters, you know they’re in full political bias mode.

                  And then the worst they can get to is “unproven”, after admitting there’s at least some basis for the story.

  7. David, this is a pretty disingenuous follow-up. Your original argument was that NYT was stoking the argument that Trump was an anti-semite. There was no “there” there–in fact, within hours of publishing the first report of the EO, they had amended the article to add new comments from ADL supporting the measure. They also added the criticism from the opposite side: that this is a shadow means to silence the BDS debate on campus.

    NYT has now published a follow-up exploring that argument in detail. You claim that its a hitjob, not really based on any specific argument, except that it fails to highlight that Harry Reid and other prominent Democrats supported similar language in a previous bill. I don’t see how that adds significant color given that the BDS/anti-BDS argument is one that doesn’t seem purely partisan. You also argue that the statement that Marcus and the White House acted “by fiat” is unfair, but you seemingly acknowledge that the bills in Congress were not passed, and thus acting through EO is effectively acting by fiat. Neither undermine the argument that the NYT seems to put forth, that Marcus is a driving force for anti-BDS government action.

    The rub is that your argument is basically NYT can do nothing right by reporting on this event.

    1. ILK….What the NYT could do is publish a retraction, and issue a new article that accurately reflects the EO. I mean, simple decency and ethics would dictate that. Something along the lines of, “Hey, we messed this up. We’re sorry. Here are the facts.” and it would blow over.

      It is their refusal to admit anything remotely close to, we got this wrong, that sticks in everyone’s craw.

      1. And that their positioning is itself disingenuous.

        Did the NYT describe President Obama’s Executive Order creating DACA – a program that was explicitly voted down by the Congress, and which the President had publicly stated was outside of his power and required an act of Congress – as “by fiat?” No.

        Is there a pattern of varying administrations acting in legally parallel ways (and sometimes in identical ways), but only one party receiving the opprobrium of the paper of record? Isn’t this just another example of that?

  8. And, of course, the Washington Post is pushing the same misinterpretation.

    1. At least right-thinking Americans now have sources better than the Post and Times — Drudge, Instapundit, RedState, Fox News, Volokh Conspiracy, FreeRepublic, Stormfront, Gateway Pundit, RealClear Politics — to help keep it fair and balanced.

      1. Unafraid, Rev, you forgot unafraid.
        If you choose to be a bigot, at least try to be good at it.

      2. You’re not keeping your software up to date. Drudge has gone anti-Trump these days.

      3. Some of those are not like the others….

  9. The reference to verbal anti-semitism on campus might be used against the BDSM crowd, despite First Amendment disclaimers in the order.

    Of course, it’s a fact of life that these anti-discrimination regulations have been applied to supposedly persistent verbal harassment – “hostile environment.”

    So I suppose it’s possible that They’re thinking of using the order as a tool against pervasive anti-Semitic climates on campus.

    Of course, one’s reaction to that will be affected by one’s view of the whole “hostile environment” theory.

    1. I see that I capitalized “They’re.” Typo, or sinister conspiracy theory?

    2. Autocorrect or intentional? I like it either way.

  10. “BDSM”? Not sure how the policy would take down this crowd. Typo, or typing habit from another forum?

    1. Neither – it was meant as an insult to the BDS people.

      But they have 1st Amendment rights, too!

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