Mere Rhetoric damned with faint praise at the New York Times

Omri Ceren, who blogs at Mere Rhetoric, is a member of the Watcher of Weasels Council.  He is as good a blogger as one can get, and someone with a real gift for ferreting out the truth behind the story.  So it was no surprise that Omri, using what he describes as simple due diligence, discovered that yet another high level member of Human Rights Watch, an ostensibly objective organization that is in fact fiercely hostile to Israel, has a distinctly unsavory past, and one with strong ties to antisemitism.  Omri’s discovery concerned Marc Garlasco, who happens to have an obsessive interesting in Nazi uniforms.  Garlasco’s interest transcends mere hobbyism.  As Omri details, Garlasco exhibits what veers into a libidinous excitement about Nazi uniforms, something that makes an ugly package when combined with his slobbering servility to Palestinians, his hostility to Israel, and his regular lies about the Jewish state.

The problem with Garlasco, as I indicated in the first paragraph, is that he’s not alone on HRW.  Instead, he’s part of a troika.  It turns out that all those humanistic, altruistic Israel Watcher’s at HRW have a history that shows bias towards Israel, whether that’s praising the Munich massacre, bemoaning Israel’s existence, or glorifying those who sought the Jews’ total destruction.  And once you’ve got a troika, you’ve got a news story even the MSM can no longer ignore.

Which gets me to the New York Times, which does a very, very careful job about reporting the Garlasco story.  So careful, in fact, that it entirely ignores that Garlasco is one of three antisemitic stooges at HRW, making it appear that he is simply one beleaguered collector, assaulted by various Jewish extremist bloggers.  Moreover, in inimitable NYT‘s fashion, the story manages to smear Omri — or, at least, to smear him as far as the Times‘ readers are concerned:

His hobby, inspired he said by a German grandfather conscripted into Hitler’s army, was revealed on a pro-Israel blog, Mere Rhetoric Mere Rhetoric [sic],which quoted his enthusiastic postings on collector sites under the pseudonym “Flak88” — including, “That is so cool! The leather SS jacket makes my blood go cold it is so COOL!”

It was a Rorschach moment in the conflict between Israel and its critics. The revelations were, depending on who is talking, either incontrovertible proof of bias or an irrelevant smear.

The Mere Rhetoric posting said Mr. Garlasco’s interests explained “anti-Israel biases.”

Did you catch that description about Mere Rhetoric as a “pro-Israel blog”?  I happen to think there’s nothing wrong with being a pro-Israel blog.  Indeed,  I think it’s a good thing to be a pro-Israel blog.  But I happen to know that the New York Times does not think being pro-Israel is ever good.  Indeed, just yesterday, the Times had a long and nasty and biased report about Israeli settlers, making them look like greedy vultures, all the while forgetting to report the terrorism inflicted against them and their holy places.  (You can find the link if you want; I won’t bother.)

All of this means that, when the Times describes Mere Rhetoric as “pro-Israel,” it’s telling it’s readers that Omri’s blog is biased and unreliable.  It hopes that, despite the evidence all over the blogsophere about Garlasco’s Nazi obsession, those who read the Times article will discount it, because he’s a victim of a smear campaign by those nasty pro-Israel bloggers.

The old media is beginning to have a huge problem trying to get people to discount actual facts simply because the MSM doesn’t like the messenger.  In the old days, a smear was a lie.  In the new days, a smear is the truth coming from new media sources hostile to Democratic interests.  Van Jones was “smeared” when bloggers revealed his Communist past, his crude insults about Republicans, his anti-Israel band, etc.  All actual, veriable, video-taped facts, of course, but still smears because they came out of the wrong mouths.  The Rev. Wright was smeared when videos surfaced of him insulting America and Americans.  True, yes; but a smear nevertheless because the people inserting these facts into the public dialogue had the wrong, conservative motives.

And so it goes — and then the old media wonders why it’s readership declines.

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