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NY Times and the NY Rally

by Rabbi Shraga Simmons; May 23, 2012 at 12:57:48 AM

NY Mets' Citi FieldOn Sunday evening, tens of thousands of Orthodox Jews packed into Citi Field (home to baseball’s New York Mets) for a rally to discuss responsible use of the Internet. No need to reiterate that message here; has already dealt extensively with the issue of online pornography, as well as the addictive pull of the Internet. (See articles here, here, here and here.)

What got me riled up was media coverage of the event. This New York Times video report gave less airtime to the 40,000-plus attendees than it did to the few dozen “anti-Orthodox” protesters. One protester, a middle-aged man in a tank top, told viewers of the Times that this rally

“is like the last dying gasp of the [Orthodox] beast… they’re floundering, they’re falling apart. This is like a rat in the corner kicking and screaming back.”

In truth, far from issuing its “last dying gasp,” Orthodoxy is the most vibrant and fastest-growing segment of American Jewry. This “floundering” community somehow managed to pack Citi Field and is planning another gathering of 90,000 people at MetLife Stadium in August.

It’s one thing to interview a professor who has conducted extensive sociological studies to offer a reasoned assessment of the Orthodox community. But for the Times to give a platform to outright falsehoods is irresponsible, agenda-driven reporting.

Closing out the Times’ video report is a statement by rally spokesman Eytan Kobre, whose words are taken out of context and cleverly edited, making it sound as if he describes his own Orthodox community as “putting one’s head in the sand.”

This is not the first time the New York Times has pulled such a stunt. I recall ten years ago when the Salute to Israel parade in Manhattan drew 800,000 people, including marching bands and professionally-designed floats. A few hundred protesters also showed up – representing less than one-tenth of one percent of total attendance.

Yet the Times ran a front-page photo of a protester clutching a large anti-Israel poster, suggesting to readers that there had been a huge anti-Israel parade. Inside the newspaper as well, a large photo of protesters showed a banner that likened Zionism to Nazism.

Following numerous complaints, the Times issued a rare apology:

Although the editors' intent in each case was to note the presence of opposing sides, the effect was disproportionate. In fairness, the total picture presentation should have better reflected the Times's reporting on the scope of the event, including the disparity in the turnouts.

As documented in my book, David & Goliath, the New York Times has a long and sordid history of anti-Jewish bias. Back in the 1930s, Times’ publisher Arthur Hays Sulzberger was a committed anti-Zionist. When the British passed laws restricting Jewish immigration to Palestine – thus slamming the door on Jews desperate to flee the Nazi inferno – a Times editorial praised the law as necessary “to save the homeland itself from overpopulation.” The Times’ horrific cover-up of the Holocaust is well-documented as a policy directed by Sulzberger for both political and personal reasons: He didn’t want his paper characterized as “Jewish,” and he didn’t approve of Jews helping fellow Jews.

For the millions of New York Times readers worldwide, this week’s rally at Citi Field is just another sad reminder that when it comes to Jewish concerns, the news is not quite “fit to print.”

May 23, 2012

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Visitor Comments: 2

(2) Aaron, May 23, 2012 12:49 PM

I myself am Orthodox. While I am well aware of the dangers of the internet, I find it a little sad that these Rabbaim felt the need to spend a sunday afternoon packing 40,000 people in a stadium talking about the dangers of the internet. I think it would be better to promote somethig positive. If we make our focus on trying to 'protect' ourselves, we forget what it is we're really trying to protect

(1) Robert, May 23, 2012 9:41 AM

Bias once again...

Thank you for this excellent article pointing out once again how biased the New York Times is. Your blog keeps me checking every day as the articles are varied and interesting.

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