The New York Times Continues its Dishonest Assault on the Trump Executive Order on Antisemitism

This is really getting ridiculous, and I'd be embarrassed for the Times if I thought its editors were capable of being embarrassed these days

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

The Times has a piece today suggesting the order has "divided" the Jewish community, even though all mainstream groups, including liberal groups like the ADL, support it.

First, the Times managed to find two prominent Reform rabbis who still have not gotten the memo that the initial Times' reporting on this was misleading. As I've explained previously, contra the initial Times story, (a) the Order doesn't define Jews as a nationality; and (b) the policy it embraces is no different than policy under the Obama and Bush administrations, in holding that Jews are protected from discrimination under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act when others perceive them to be the equivalent of a race or nationality and discriminate against them on that basis.

The Times quotes Rabbi Hara Person, the chief executive of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, as follows: "Not to overdramatize, but it feels dangerous," she said. "I've heard people say this feels like the first step toward us wearing yellow stars." That's not just overdramatizing, that's completely absurd.

Plus this, "This is deeply objectionable, going back centuries in anti-Semitic thinking," said Rabbi Daniel G. Zemel, who leads Temple Micah, a Reform congregation in Washington.

The Times adds, "The politics of the executive order seemed clear when it was signed on Wednesday. Attending the signing ceremony were prominent Jews and evangelical Christians, Democrats and Republicans, and some big-name donors." No mention that many big-name Democrats supported the order, many of whom absented themselves from the signing only because of the optics given the ongoing impeachment drama.

The article gets somewhat less obviously tendentious further on, and even notes–for the first time in the Times's coverage of the Order–that the Obama administration had an equivalent policy. OTOH, treating the far-left Rabbi Jill Jacobs of the tiny but loud T'ruah as if she runs a mainstream "liberal" organization is a bit much, and the overall tenor of the piece is that there is some raging debate among American Jews whether it's okay for the president to sign an executive order formalizing favorable policy to combat antisemitism that is supported by even liberal mainstream Jewish organizations and basically reasserts Obama administration policy that no one objected to in 2010.

The real story here is that there is a segment of the Jewish community inclined to freak out over anything the Trump administration does that has anything to do with Jews and that the Times, through its dishonest and misleading reporting, has been intentionally encouraging it. (Note: There is a segment of the Jewish community, generally on the urban and Reform side of things, that treats the Times and its reporting as Torah, i.e., "gospel.")

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  1. Could you imagine Suderman, Welch or Boehm writing this?
    It would totally wreck their CV and Journolist cred.

    1. The VC is not reason.

      1. And Reason is not reason.

  2. “…The Times has a piece today suggesting the order has “divided” the Jewish community, even though all mainstream groups, including liberal groups like the ADL, support it.

    First, the Times managed to find two prominent Reform rabbis who still have not gotten the memo that the initial Times’ reporting on this was misleading. …

    Well, if the Times found 2 *prominent* (your description) rabbis who disagree with the others, then it DOES seem reasonable to say that there is a split within the Jewish community. Right? (Now, maybe there should not be a split. Maybe all “informed” Jews are in agreement on this issue. But it seems weird to implicitly criticize the Times by accusing the paper of falsely saying there is a split–when you immediately, yourself, confirm such a split exists.)

    [I’m making the above point only to examine that particular accusation that you made. I know almost nothing about the underlying issue, so I stake no claim as to the accuracy or inaccuracy of the rest of your posts on this whole mishigas.]

    1. There are over 2 thousand Reform rabbis in the U.S. Finding 2, even 2 relatively prominent ones, to say something silly and uninformed doesn’t make for a general communal split. And that’s if you trust the reporters to have properly quoted the rabbis in context and not before the text of the EO was released and digested, which is hardly certain.

      1. How does it feel being the lowest common denominator slinking in here to make your point, seems pretty desperate. Being passive aggressive violent is hard.

    2. “(Now, maybe there should not be a split. Maybe all “informed” Jews are in agreement on this issue.”

      OK, but the NYT claims that Trump’s order caused the split. If you concede that the split was caused by the Times’ misleading coverage, then it’s the NYT’s misleading coverage causing the split, not Trump’s EO.

    3. It seems you are unfamiliar with the hoary old saying that where you have two Jews, you will have 3 opinions. That the reporter could cite a few left-leaning rabbis to take exception to the WH move is effectively inconsequential, that is other than to show how the Times spins stories like this one.

      In the past couple of weeks, in advance of the UK elections, the NYT reported that the UK’s chief rabbi had strongly condemned Labor’s antisemitism. By way of counterbalance, though, the NYT reported the existence of a group Jews Against Boris. Thus. they proved up a split in the Jewish community on that side of the Pond! (How many JABs do you think are out there, 1/100th as many as JAJ?)

  3. This is how you get Corbyn. Over here we have just avoided a genuinely anti-Semitic Prime Minister, because the political left has been so obsessed with imagined anti-Semitism from the right that the news media have been slow to recognise the bigotry of the left. They are ironically conservative in their political misapprehensions. Fortunately the British people have not been so myopic, and even many of his own party disowned Corbyn.

    In the US today this most ancient of evils is settling in on the political left, and probably for the same reason as it did in the UK: a combination of desire to capture votes from recent immigrants or the offspring of immigrants from countries with embedded anti-Semitic cultures, and the influence of the same on the Democratic Party.

    1. Hey look, it’s Bernstein’s sock!

      Keep preying on simple thoughts

      1. You’re a moron

        1. You’re violent, it happens when you leach propaganda from the media

  4. “(Note: There is a segment of the Jewish community, generally on the urban and Reform side of things, that treats the Times and its reporting as Torah, i.e., “gospel.”)”

    “Elites” who place reasoned content on the same plane as superstition?

    Oh, no!

    1. The Times, not reasoned content.

  5. This is but one more example of the NYT publishing fake news that uninformed, bigoted, close-minded, provincial leftists (redundant) take in like the koolaid at Jonestown. Is it any wonder why we have the problems of partisanship when what was once a reliable source has fallen to this extent?

    Maybe Charles Koch can buy it and clean it up a bit.

  6. I am enjoying all the ‘NYT is the worst!’ knee jerk posts, but this ends up being Prof. Bernstein’s thesis, that the NYT has been talking to the wrong Jews:

    The real story here is that there is a segment of the Jewish community inclined to freak out over anything the Trump administration does that has anything to do with Jews and that the Times, through its dishonest and misleading reporting, has been intentionally encouraging it.

    Not saying the NYT has the complete story, or even that I agree with it’s take. (I think I half do).
    But this is not intentional deception, nor is it even bad reporting. it’s just not agreeing with Bernstein’s take, and he’s being a bulldog about it.

    1. “Trump to sign executive order formalizing Obama administration policy on scope of Title VI regarding Jews” becomes, in the Times’ hand, “Trump to sign unprecedented executive order redefining Jews as a nationality.” And then when Jews freak out about this *because* of the Times’s misreporting, the Times proceeds with “some Jews freak out about Trump executive order, supporting by right-wing fanatics.” But no bad reporting here.

      1. I see a continuity whereby both are true. The formalization is unprecedented, and the EO does indeed go farther than Obama did with the adoption of the new definition for antisemitism.

        Nuance is lost both in your characterization and the NYT. You are insisting it only that the NYT agree with you but that the experts they found agree with you. Anything else is dishonest, you insist. Many times.

        I ran this by my Jewish friends, and they are pretty concerned about this move, though largely because they don’t trust Trump. Which is not what the NYT is reporting. I however am not concluding the NYT is doing bad reporting.

        1. Reform rabbis who aren’t experts in Title VI aren’t experts. Some actual experts have expressed concern about the First Amendment issues the IHRA definition might raise, though I think these concerns are overblown. No actual experts think that understanding Title VI as covering racism against Jews is dangerous, though the Times has strained mightily to suggest otherwise.

          1. So the article about how this order has divided the Jewish community that asks Rabbis about their feelings on the order is being dishonest because the real story should be about Title VI.

            I’m not saying the legal analysis of the order shouldn’t be covered, but I don’t know if that’s what this story was about.

            1. If you think that the reporters asked rabbis randomly about their feelings, and just happened to find these two extremely ill-informed rabbis, as opposed to intentionally seeking out rabbis who would provide the quotes they wanted to support the line they had already decided to push, you are very naive about how “journalism” works these days.

  7. Note: There is a segment of the Jewish community, generally on the urban and Reform side of things, that treats the Times and its reporting as Torah, i.e., “gospel.”

    That is very much on point, Professor Bernstein. I’d go one step further and say those same people evangelize the NYT point of view. The NYT has gone a far way from the days of AM Rosenthal.

    1. This is a bit screwed up to say.

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