The Matzav Shmoooze: A Frum Media Perspective On the Error in the White House

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Dear Editor,

I’ve been reading all the reports and comments relating to the Trump-Turx incident today at the White House. All the media outlets have some coverage of the incident. The liberal media, of course, is using Trump’s reaction as a reason to bash him. No surprise there. This was tailor-made for them. One writer in the frum media jumped on board and responded to a critical statement by Matzav and sought to defend Turx.

I’d like to offer a short point by point explanation of why Turx erred today. Not only did he err, but he erred egregiously, and there’s no excuse for his mistake. Many of my sentiments happened to have already been mentioned in a statement earlier on Matzav.

Before I go further, I’d like to make clear that I wish this frum reporter all the success in the world. I don’t know him, but he seems like a fine fellow. May he be matzliach. However, when you place yourself in that position, you’d better be ready to be scrutinized. And if you can’t take the heat, then you’d better get out of the White House press room.

Here’s my take:

1) Turx, take off that silly yarmulka. It’s an embarrassment. Put on a regular yarmulka. It isn’t Purim and the White House isn’t the yeshiva coffee room. President Trump is not an actor in a Purim play, so you should not act like he is. The yarmulka is immature, embarrassing, and uncalled for. Pull yourself together and look like a mentch when representing the frum world in the White House. Sorry for being sharf, but it must be said.

2) When asking a question to the president, the focus is not on you, but on the president. The questioner is not to draw attention to himself. The questioner is not an actor on stage or a performer on TV.

3) It is questionable whether the topic of the question was appropriate altogether today. It had nothing to do with anything being discussed. I spoke to several askanim who said that that topic can be reserved for meetings with the president and his brass. There was no imperative for it to be brought up at the press conference.

4) Assuming that the topic was okay, if I or others in the frum media had an opportunity to pose a question to the president, we would carefully study what we want to say and condense it into one or two sentences. Today, Turx was all over the place. Let’s break down his comments:

a) “Despite what some of my colleagues may have been reporting, I haven’t seen anybody in my community accuse either yourself or any of, anyone on your staff of being anti-Semitic.”

b) “We understand that you have Jewish grandchildren. You are their zaidy.

c) “However, what we are concerned about, and what we haven’t really heard being addressed, is an uptick in anti-Semitism and how the government is planning to take care of it… There has been a report out that 48 bomb threats have been made against Jewish centers all across the country in the last couple of weeks. There are people who are committing anti-Semitic acts or threatening to…”

The “question” was so poorly formulated and presented. The initial comment about his “colleagues” was misplaced. You don’t comment on your colleagues in such a venue. The president can decide to comment on the media. You can’t.

The next remark about Trump having Jewish grandchildren and him being a zaidy was childish, silly, and, yes, even embarrassing in the context in which it was said. It was almost like everyone realized that it was said only so that this “Chassidic” reporter can use the word “zaidy” in the White House press room. Embarrassing.

Next, to the question itself: Even if we assume that the claims of there being an uptick are not merely a product of the liberal media and groups like the ADL, who see anti-Semitism in everything, the question itself was a discombobulated jumble. It took three sentences and almost 70 words to convey the point, and Turx was still going. He would have continued talking had Trump not cut him off, going on and on as he tried to explain his question. This was not a campaign speech or a bar mitzvah p’shetel. It was supposed to be a brief question to the president.

I am not nitpicking here. This isn’t child’s play. This is important. These aren’t minutiae.

If I or others in the frum media had an opportunity to pose the president a question, assuming that we wished to ask him about this particular topic, we would have labored to come up with a formula that was short, respectful and to the point. And if we weren’t sure that we could remember the exact text, there’s nothing wrong with reading it off of a paper so that you don’t make a fool out of yourself.

One possible text could have been:

“Mr. President, we know that you are a staunch supporter of the Jewish community and have always been. Thank you for that. There are reports of an increase in anti-Semitic incidents across the country. What can the government do to address these concerns?”

Under 45 words. Short. To the point. Respectful.

Much better than rambling on about colleagues’ misreporting, Jewish grandchildren, a zaidy president, people committing, people threatening, and on and on…

And yes, maybe the reporter should have taken into account the president’s temperament. Trump is quick. He doesn’t have time for nonsense. He won’t let you babble.

It’s amazing how far a little seichel and foresight can go….

I hope you’ll forgive the bluntness and critical nature of these observations. This is not meant to be personal. It is meant to offer constructive criticism and ensure that this never happens again.

Remember: seichel and foresight.

Sincerely,

A member of the frum media

38 COMMENTS

  1. Not everyone is as talented as you. Not a reason to criticize someone with less talent. And if you don’t like his style of dress, too bad. Many secular jews don’t like your style of dress. It seems you have to climb down that high horse of yours. Who made you an authority on frum reporters?

    • As a side point how do goyim know what a
      “mature” yarmulke is supposed to look like? The fact that it looked like a “soup bowl” actually made me very proud of him and how he represented the orthodox community. The goyim are only too aware of all the liberal jews who regret the day they were born because their jewish.

      • If a reporter wears a baseball cap with his name printed on it, in neon green, he certainly looks like an attention seeking person. He does not like a professional. No one thinks that his name on it is due to Yiddishkeit.

        Oh, and everyone else looks a lot more put together than him. His public Twitter account has several pictures of him making goofy faces in his self-shot pictures.

    • Wrong…this is not a circus act but a serious profession .If you cannot represent properly, you dont belong there. We dont need to become the laughing stock…we need an articulate polished and well groomed representative there. This is the White House Press room, not an upsherin with labeled yarmulka and informal dress.

  2. Spot on! I watched the press conference and was embarrassed by the whole episode without knowing why. It just didn’t feel right. Now I understand why that is so. The frum people have to realize that we are in golus and should keep a low profile.

  3. Very well written article. If you are taka a member of the Frum media, why don’t you tell us who you are? It would add legitimacy to your expose.

  4. Well said. I think it also has something to do with the drive for sensationalism that has crept into today’s frum media. Was the question being posed for the benefit of klal Yisroel or for the benefit of the reporter? I think the answer is quite apparent.

  5. I hope you’ll forgive the bluntness of these observations. This is not meant to be personal. It is meant to offer constructive criticism and ensure that this never happens again.
    Then why a publicly posted letter instead of a private one to Mr. Turx? Is hanging him out to dry before an audience somehow more constructive than a one-on-one commentary?

    • so that when he hopefully reads this letter himself he will take it seriously. much more then just receiving a private email letter to him.

      im a supporter of Turx but not at the risk of klal yisroel & chillul Hashem C”V its not worth it

  6. The author may be correct.
    Here is the issue:
    We have weekly magazines with interviews of high ranking government officials and pictures of frum people in the white house meeting with senators and high ranking people. We have more than one national organization that all brag that they are getting services for yidden while dealing with the highest level of government.
    I don’t see these magazines highlighting innovative rabbeim, successful rabbanim, new sedarim and new sefarim.
    We teach our children to buy new apartments in eretz yisroel, and become hacker askanim and daas Torah at age 27.
    When we indirectly brag at our push into government this is what we get.
    This reporter is mimicking what he sees everyone else doing.
    We forgot we are in galus. Hashem yishmor.

  7. Big shot Member of the frum media, why don’t you publicize your name, you coward. Easy to criticize yenem as an anonymous while hiding your identity. Your intention is not to offer constructive criticism rather to humiliate someone who is already humiliated. How shameful.

  8. If it’s not personal then why are you anonymous? Why are you judging him for wearing his Yarmulka? He’s a certain personality and that’s part of his “shtick”. When you’re professional enough to be given access to the White House every single day in the press briefings (only 70 are) then maybe you can judge. Until then, you sound kind of jealous. He’s never stated that he’s representing all frum people, you threw that responsibility on him. Don’t be such a low self esteem and embarrassed Jew. We don’t have to hide under rocks. Be proud. Just because someone is different doesn’t make them wrong.

    • It’s the freakin White House for gods sake. No time for “shtick”. I cannot believe some of you commentators. I would not go to my own Rav and joke around with him how he is a zaidy… This is the President of the USA!! As some have already said if we need someone who is frum at white house press briefings it should be someone who is respected, experienced etc… It’s a sad situation.

    • Kudos to the frum media member author of the featured post.

      Reporters are not supposed to be comedians. If he wants to be a frum stand up comedy guy, The White House is not the place for that.

      The White House is not his local shtiebel.

    • Theres no SHTICK when you are a professional. And nobody is jealous. And if you can’t take constructive criticism, you ought not be there. The oilem will definitely scrutinize his action, as the world will. He is on a national stage where millions of people will be watching him…and so, yes, he needs to own up to that.

  9. Absolutely 100% true. The frum White House correspondent should be a mature, seasoned reporter who has an understanding of his role and of human psychology. Turx unfortunately is a satirist.

  10. Exactly, he should heave been short and to the point. No need for 25 second introductions, when your average reporter’s question is half as long.

  11. Complaining that the secular media thinks the yarmulke is costume-like and an embarrassment is ridiculous. To an average non Jewish person, most of us look the same and they don’t notice difference in sizes of yarmulkes. Once the yarmulke is black, I would imagine they all look like a giant black bowl on the head, at least to someone not part of the community. It’s only to a frum person in a black hat community that the yarmulke is seen as different.

    Besides that in 2017, it’s generally frowned upon to discriminate based on one’s ethnic dress. Which you just did.

    • You can find secular reporters wearing baseball caps when they’re not on the air. But not one of them has their Twitter name written on it in neon green letters!

      How does one try to justify a reporter promoting themselves this way, in the White House?!

  12. We have a mesorah with regard to living in golus, which is not to be lightly discarded. Anyone who does so is playing with fire.

    When young turks come in and think they know better than the older dor, experienced zekeinim who had shimush and have a mesorah, it is recipe for disaster, Hashem yeracheim.

    If we are a Torah community, we need to follow daas Torah, not daas media and daas PR.

    • Do you tuck out your tzitzis ?do you walk to shul on shabbos with your tallis without a jacket over it? People be more consistent with the galus comments!

  13. Please write another Dear Editor explaining your reluctance to sign your name. The writer of such a well written and important letter should be identified. It’s sad that you’re too afraid to do so.

  14. To paraphrase Rav Hirsch in selected writings “only cowardly gnats don`t sign their open letters of criticism” .
    There have been a host of frum follies that have been captured by the media.
    I don`t need to list them we all know them . Most of those scandals could have been stopped but our media does not delve into investigative reporting or critique of those of whom they fear retribution -it`s a very normal attitude but leaves us all to ponder-
    Just one small case in point but it`s a microcosm of other cases:
    There was a group of overt Jews sponsored by a very strong Jewish group insulting another Yid publicly in Washington DC – I don`t care if he is a Shomer Torah Mitzvos or not . He represents us all as Prime Minister of the State of Israel. Was there one word of critique from “a member of the frum media”? Do you think that the umos HaOlam don`t laugh at a public display of Jew vs Jew? Can`t they keep their machoes to their own botei midrashim as was done in der heim and by our gedolim on these shores?
    Why of all issues are we jumping on this non-news item? He didn`t try to do anything wrong . He didn`t wrong anybody and nobody was hurt. He will grow into his job and become a better person.
    Our other unreported scandals are just waiting to happen again thanks to a media that allows it to slip by unreported

  15. Totally agree. One doesn’t get these opportunities that often. Questions need to be to the point. In addition, he should not have stood up in the middle again and attempt to interrupt.

  16. We live in a insular bubble and for good reasons but it causes us to get self-absorbed and think that whatever concerns us personally or as a community must concern the world hence anything we think is cute and funny is of interest to the world . Even if you are a non jew philo- Semite you should care about the Holocaust as much as we care about the armenian genocide or the Ukrainian hunger in 1920 which killed millions. As much they think it’s wrong they don’t want to hear about it breakfast lunch and supper after all said and done anti-Semitism exists in America we see it every day but it’s not a big issue. not for us and not for Americans in general . He must decide whether he wants to be a comedian or representative of American jewery and then he’s got to get serious, and thinking in terms of how his words resonate to the big world not how it’s going sound to the boychicks back home.

  17. The question should of been
    Mr President. The flooding of Islamic radicals on college campuses is contributing to the rise of anti Semitism. What do you recommend be done.

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