President Donald Trump’s speech at a Holocaust commemoration event in Washington on Tuesday provided the New York Times with an opportunity to regurgitate vague and unsubstantiated allegations against Mr. Trump and his White House staff.
Here is the key passage from the Times news article:
Some Jewish groups have called out the president for what they say is a flirtation with the far right — a tolerance of anti-Semitic sentiment in service of retaining the support of fringe conservatives.
They have repeatedly expressed concern about the White House chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, who was accused by a former wife of making anti-Jewish comments. Several groups have also called for Mr. Trump to fire a Bannon deputy, Sebastian Gorka, who has been accused of having links to far-right groups in Europe.
“Some Jewish groups.” “They.” “Several groups.” The Times doesn’t name any of these groups, or even provide hyperlinks to articles that name them. It doesn’t say if they are large, mainstream groups, or small, fringe groups. Without that information or context, it’s hard for readers to draw much by way of conclusions about whether the concerns are legitimate or just politics.
The Times tells us that Bannon “was accused by a former wife of making anti-Jewish comments.” It doesn’t tell us what the comments were, or what the context of the accusation was, or whether there’s any independent confirmation of that accusation, or what Bannon’s response to it was.
The Times pulls the same stunt with Gorka — repeating the accusation, without including Gorka’s response, and without providing readers with an attempt to get to the bottom of the merits of the accusation. Tablet, a Jewish publication that is often harshly critical of Trump, did complete its own assessment, concluding, in the case of Gorka:
I’ve been, and remain, a critic of the Trump Administration, but all criticism is meaningless unless it adheres to reason, refuses rank rumors, and focuses on substance rather than on slinging mud. Let’s all take a deep breath. The White House is no more overrun with Nazis as with secret Russian spies. To suggest otherwise is to further flame the kind of hysteria that, traditionally, has led to social unrest and delivered no good news to the Jews.
The same Times article reports:
During Tuesday’s ceremony at the Capitol, the president enunciated the word “Nazi” in an unusual way, pronouncing it with a “z” sound instead of the “tz” sound as is typically done.
The Times doesn’t mention that this is how Winston Churchill pronounced the word. If Trump is looking for a model of anti-fascist leadership, he could do plenty worse than choosing Churchill.
The Times story goes on:
The controversy over Mr. Trump’s relationship with the Jewish community is one of the more bewildering story lines in a young administration brimming with paradox.
Maybe the Times would find the whole thing less “bewildering” if it did some more reporting. That might allow the paper to provide authoritative context and perspective, rather than just parroting accusations without even specifying their source or allowing the targets of the accusations the opportunity to respond.
(C) 2017 . The Algemeiner Ira Stoll