The New York Times Tries To Excuse Anti-Semitism PR Disaster
The New York Times Tries To Excuse Anti-Semitism PR Disaster
When is an apology not an apology? When you don’t use the words “sorry” and “apologize.” The New York Times tried the non-apology route when it got slammed over the weekend for publishing an anti-Semitic cartoon that was so obviously over-the-top that any normal person would have said “no, that’s unacceptable.”
There apparently are no “normal” people working at The New York Times. Remember, these are “journalists,” our intellectual superiors, the “brave firefighters” who are defending the First Amendment.
Just in case you forgot what hideousness they published, here:
— Adam Milstein (@AdamMilstein) April 26, 2019
The first excuse (because it wasn’t an apology) was this:
An Editors' Note to appear in Monday’s international edition. pic.twitter.com/1rl2vXoTB3
— New York Times Opinion (@nytopinion) April 27, 2019
“We offended people, our bad, but we deleted it” is not an apology.
And the blowback continued from all sides until the Times was forced to use the words “sorry” and “apologize” on Sunday.
We apologize for the anti-Semitic cartoon we published. Here’s our statement. pic.twitter.com/nifZahutpO
— New York Times Opinion (@nytopinion) April 28, 2019
A question – who the hell is in charge of PR and crisis management at the New York Times??? Because that person should be fired immediately. The second tweet is the one that should have gone out first, not the lame “oops, that was a mistake” tweet. Maybe then, the NYT could have saved a little face. Except that there is a very real problem with tweet #2.
Tweet #2 is when the New York Times throws a single, unnamed editor under the bus. This so-called editor, “working without adequate oversight,” decided all by their lonesome to just download and pop that cartoon into the international print edition. Bret Stephens, a Times columnist, got the job of scolding the paper on its own pages – and helping drive the bus over this editor a few more times.
The real story is a bit different, though not in ways that acquit The Times. The cartoon appeared in the print version of the international edition, which has a limited overseas circulation, a much smaller staff, and far less oversight than the regular edition. Incredibly, the cartoon itself was selected and seen by just one midlevel editor right before the paper went to press.”
An initial editor’s note acknowledged that the cartoon “included anti-Semitic tropes,” “was offensive,” and that “it was an error of judgment to publish it.” On Sunday, The Times issued an additional statement saying it was “deeply sorry” for the cartoon and that “significant changes” would be made in terms of internal processes and training.”
In other words, the paper’s position is that it is guilty of a serious screw-up but not a cardinal sin. Not quite.”
This tells us something very important about the New York Times at this moment in time. We all know that print journalism is in decline. The NYT is not immune to this. What this reveals to us is that certain parts of the paper are being run on a shoestring budget. These “midlevel” editors are being told to put the paper together, while the big names (aka “the columnists”) are paid more for producing editorial content. There is a lot that goes into prepping a paper for print. Gone are the days of measuring and pasting with your own two hands and a pot of glue, but the same thing is happening digitally for the printed edition. These “editors” are being told to get their paper whipped into shape and off to the printer. Is there management around? Heck no! They’ve all left for the day and the peons have to do the actual work. So do I believe the Times (and Stephens) when they claim that this was a one-person decision? Yes. Does this also mean that a paper that claims to be “the paper of record” with “layers of fact-checkers” should be mocked when their crappy editorial oversight is so brutally exposed like this? Hell yes.
Stephens then goes on a scold-fest. And you can tell that while he may be angry, he was totally given the green light to shame the NYT in hopes that people buy into just how very sorry they are.
The problem with the cartoon isn’t that its publication was a willful act of anti-Semitism. It wasn’t. The problem is that its publication was an astonishing act of ignorance of anti-Semitism — and that, at a publication that is otherwise hyper-alert to nearly every conceivable expression of prejudice, from mansplaining to racial microaggressions to transphobia.”
Imagine, for instance, if the dog on a leash in the image hadn’t been the Israeli prime minister but instead a prominent woman such as Nancy Pelosi, a person of color such as John Lewis, or a Muslim such as Ilhan Omar. Would that have gone unnoticed by either the wire service that provides the Times with images or the editor who, even if he were working in haste, selected it?”
The question answers itself. And it raises a follow-on: How have even the most blatant expressions of anti-Semitism become almost undetectable to editors who think it’s part of their job to stand up to bigotry?”
The reason is the almost torrential criticism of Israel and the mainstreaming of anti-Zionism, including by this paper, which has become so common that people have been desensitized to its inherent bigotry. So long as anti-Semitic arguments or images are framed, however speciously, as commentary about Israel, there will be a tendency to view them as a form of political opinion, not ethnic prejudice. But as I noted in a Sunday Review essay in February, anti-Zionism is all but indistinguishable from anti-Semitism in practice and often in intent, however much progressives try to deny this.”
Add to the mix the media’s routine demonization of Netanyahu, and it is easy to see how the cartoon came to be drawn and published: Already depicted as a malevolent Jewish leader, it’s just a short step to depict him as a malevolent Jew.”
Honest question – how do you know this “editor” isn’t an anti-Semite and this wasn’t a deliberate act? We’ll never know, because they’ll never tell us. They’re going to excuse it as “Netanyahu bad, Israel mean, left-leaning editor totally thought we’d be cool with this.” And they’ll never tell us if this “editor” was fired, or what they’re going to change to make sure that no single stupid person can screw up like this again. You see, now that the NYT has allowed Stephens to flog them publicly, they want to be APPLAUDED for how “brave” they are for yelling at themselves.
— Frank Bruni (@FrankBruni) April 28, 2019
Brave firefighters, indeed. More like serial arsonists who start a fire, call the fire department to report it, and then get lauded for their actions. Shameless doesn’t even begin to cover it.