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Rudoren Clarifies Tweets

The perils of Twitter

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In my post on Jodi Rudoren’s tweeting-before-reporting earlier today, I argued she was being very careless about the medium and about the high-profile nature of her new post as New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief with such tweets as a friendly message to Ali Abunimah, the editor of the Electronic Intifada Website, a prominent anti-Zionist outlet, and even for her endorsement of Peter Beinart’s forthcoming book, a liberal pro-Zionist take on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I suggested that while it’s possible this is evidence of actual bias, more likely she “possesses an astounding lack of sense of the profile of the post to which she has been appointed; of how she is going to be perceived; and of the fact that she is betraying her opinions before she has even started reporting.” (The fact that she had nice things to say about both Abunimah and Beinart, who hold strongly different views on the conflict, was itself evidence of a desire simply to ‘establish a presence’ rather than of a firm ideology.)

After I wrote the post, I received the following direct message from Rudoren over Twitter, which I take as her response and as confirmation of my view: “Hi Marc. Twitter’s a fleeting medium, and I’m still a novice w/it. Defly plan to Tweet & Retweet from all sides of conflict.”

Personally, I buy it. I see those tweets as evidence not of bias or slant but of somebody not understanding the power of this medium and the scrutiny she is now under. I would also humbly suggest, as someone perhaps no longer quite a novice, that she tweet and retweet from no sides of the conflict. Twitter is a really fickle medium; it is very bad, as I wrote today (in a completely different context), for conveying actual opinions, and Rudoren is actually going to have the biggest platform on the planet to expound on the conflict. (The Times has commented: “We have complete confidence in Jodi’s fairness and integrity as a journalist; if we didn’t, she wouldn’t be taking on this assignment.”)

Goldberg explains the Abunimah tweet correctly: “Reaching out to Abunimah is normal, of course: He’s a player in extremist circles, and someone she might wind-up covering.” But do it in an off-the-record email! And this isn’t purely semantic: something sent in a private email should be understood not as an opinion but as a means to forming opinions; something said in a public venue is much closer to an opinion—yes, even Twitter (please excuse me while I add a “RT≠endorsement” to my profile. Nobody’s perfect).

As the soon-to-be Jerusalem bureau chief, Rudoren’s opinions on the conflict should be analysis derived from factual reporting appearing under her byline in the New York Times, pretty much exclusively. Which is why I responded to her direct message thusly: “That was my strong suspicion. Please be **EXTREMELY** careful! And remember you get this treatment cause nobody’s more impt to our jobs. And good luck!” I meant it.

Related: #Jewish [Tablet Magazine]
Earlier: Stop Jodi Rudoren Before She Tweets Again!

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Glad you revisited the issue, because I neglected to mention another facet of The New York Times M.O. on the Middle East: ridicule, minimize and misrepresent the views of any home-grown liberal seeking to break the stifling grip of autocracy in the Arab States, preferably by portraying them as the willing dupes of conservative groups in the United States.

That extended bit of calumny about Ayaan Hirsi Ali, by Deborah Scroggins, received not one but two glowing reviews in The New York Times.

Joe Hak says:

Im literally shocked at how stupid this article sounds.
Reaching out to people like Ali Abuminah (@AliAbunimah Hey there. Would love to chat sometime. About things other than the house. My friend Kareem Fahim says good things)and retweeting articles about apartheid in Palestine (Palestine: Love in the Time of Apartheid) are not acceptable for any level-headed person concerned with the conflict let alone a Jerusalem bureau chief for one of the largest newspapers in the world. To any sane person these are acts that show bias and slant in its purest form, not a person showing she doesnt know how to use twitter…

Hershel (Heshy) Ginsburg says:

I can hear the NY Times sycophancy at Tablet & the Atlantic breathing a sigh of relief… whew… someone at Valhalla apparently got a hold of Rudoren (JR) sent her for some emergency PR damage control. Too late. JR let her hair down before she even started & I am sure the folks at CAMERA & will have a field day with her. I bet JR’s appointment will even boost contributions to those worthy organizations (I am waiting for the day when Tablet does a reasonable feature on CAMERA &, at the risk of getting struck by lightning from Valhalla).

By contrast, he NY Times announcement is quite accurate: They have confidence in JR as a journalist – translation: They are confident that she will deliver stories that will fit their “frames” on the Israeli-Arab conflict with minimal editing.

For some good insight on how the Times’ mindset colors their reporting on the Israeli-Arab conflict, I strongly suggest reading this recent article: You can do the mental editing on the fly as your read the piece, but it really presents the picture well.


Efrata / J’lem

Not all Jews Marc it might be noted embrace Zionism. I went to summer camp as a kid and came back as a no thanks Zionism Jew. Me and Zionism are washed up and through.

Hershel (Heshy) Ginsburg says:

For a less sycophantic analysis of the the JR fashla, see here:

Hershel (Heshy) Ginsburg says:

And for a nice picture of how a blatantly ignorant media-types are easily manipulated by the Pals, see here:

Hershel (Heshy) Ginsburg says:

And last (for now) but by no means least, seasoned journalist Marvin Kalb (now at Harvard’s Kennedy School) authored a detailed study of how Hezbollah was able to manipulate the gaggle of usefully idiotic Western journalists covering Israel’s 2nd Lebanese War during 2006.

Read about it here (an article on the study):

The article contains a link to a PDF of the full study.



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Rudoren Clarifies Tweets

The perils of Twitter

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