January 15, 2008
Likely we're all aware of issues on which all sides of the "debate" happen to be covered by members of a certain media-dominant group. How often have we seen this with respect to Middle East issues, gun control, etc.?
Bill Kristol has been appointed as a columnist for the New York Times. For those who might not know, Kristol is the son of neocon godfather Irving Kristol and prominent Jewish writer Gertrude Himmelfarb. Kristol the Younger and Robert Kagan (also Jewish) co-founded the (infamous) "Project for the New American Century" in 1997, which some have seen as a blueprint for our post-9/11 world. In any case, anyone even half awake for these last six years should know of his Jewish identity and neoconservative activism.
So far, the only controversy resulting from the appointment has been that Kristol is a "conservative." In fact, the Times has long preferred its "conservative" columnists kosher. For years, William Safire was the in-house "conservative," while more recently David Brooks has taken over. (And would someone please remind me what was ever conservative about him in the first place?)
Overseeing the editorial page is Andrew Rosenthal, son of the Times’ former Executive Editor, A.M. Rosenthal who is described by Mearsheimer and Walt as a “passionate defender of Israel.” (A. M. Rosenthal’s other credits include breaking up a WASP fiefdom in the Times’ Washington Bureau and writing that there should be a ticker tape parade for illegal immigrants on Broadway. Andrew's mother is not Jewish, but still . . . .)
But noting Jewish identities and interests in all of this is pretty much verboten, even among the best of publications. For example, Marcus Epstein’s article is a nice commentary on Kristol’s typically neoconnish support for open immigration. And it correctly notes the absence of authentically conservative voices at the Times.
But there is far more to it than that. Massive non-white immigration has been a goal of organized Jewish groups for nearly a century. Indeed, support for liberal immigration policy spans the Jewish political spectrum, from the far left to the neoconservative right. And the main motive for this massive prolonged effort has had far more to do with ethnic competition than with economics or lofty moral ideals of multiculturalism: Jewish groups felt it advantageous to dilute the power of native white Christians. Given the long history of anti-Semitism in white Christian lands, this sentiment is understandable from a Jewish perspective.
Yet we are never going to hear reference to this ethnic nexus from a heavily Jewish paper like the Times. As they demonstrate here, the Jewish identities and interests of their “conservatives” are never topics of discussion.
Such a tactic of omission is of a piece with the growing trend in the mainstream media to forgo linking Jewish activism to the rise of neoconservatism. Here again Kristol, the Times, and neoconservatism are clearly operating as a Jewish movement, but it’s all quite invisible.
Our nation’s “paper of record” exhibits its usual chutzpah of omission when it features a review of a new book about neocon hawk Richard Perle, written by Alan Weisman, “a world-traveled journalist and the son of Ukrainian Jews.”
We read the usual names: Elliott Abrams, Douglas Feith, Michael Ledeen, David Frum. And we get not a word about their Jewish identity. Not even a nod in that direction. Is it any surprise, then, that Andy Rosenthal installs “conservative” William Kristol, and everyone pretends not to notice that he is a member of the same ethnic group?
So here at the beginning of 2008 we have the spectacle of a man who five years ago wrote that the Times was not "a first-rate newspaper of record" being named to the paper’s editorial page. Was Kristol right, then, when he claimed "The Times is irredeemable"?
Actually, it’s a bit puzzling that Kristol would have thought the Times irredeemable given its role in promoting one of Kristol’s favorite wars: the invasion of Iraq. As is well-known now, the Times was complicit in Judith Miller’s dishonest reportage leading up to the war in Iraq. Born to a Jewish father and displaying a powerful affinity to her Jewish identity, Miller played a role in the decision to invade Iraq not dissimilar to Kristol’s role. After Miller’s claims were discredited, the Times issued a tepid apology for coverage “that was not as rigorous as it should have been.”
With the addition of a central neocon player like Kristol, the Jewish nature of the Times’ coverage of Middle East issues becomes even more obvious.
Edmund Connelly is a freelance writer, academic, and expert on the cinema arts. He has previously written for The Occidental Quarterly.