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Thursday, May 20, 2010

The New York Times Censors the Bill of Rights

As already observed this week, the "moderators" (an oxymoron) of The New York Times have reverted to their habit of posting anti-Semitic online comments in response to op-eds and editorials. We have learned that the "moderators" believe that their is nothing amiss about labeling all Israelis "greedy" or calling Netanyahu an "irrelevant drunken Zionosaur" ( Moreover, Andrew Rosenthal, the publisher, the public editor and the web editor all chose to ignore my e-mailed remonstrations. Perhaps they believe that these anti-Semitic comments are all part of the Times' efforts to promote robust debate and freedom of speech.

Today, however, the "moderators" of the Times took the next logical step by censoring the Bill of Rights.

In an op-ed entitled "America Moves the Goalposts" in today's online New York Times, Roger Cohen claims that further sanctions will not change Iran's nuclear behavior and that the Brazilian-Turkish Iran deal is worth pursuing. My online response, which was censored:

According to Cohen, "Iran and the United States are unnatural enemies with plenty they might agree on if they ever broke the ice."

When Cohen became a naturalized citizen of the U.S., he undoubtedly familiarized himself with the U.S. Bill of Rights. As such, one can only wonder whether Cohen sincerely believes that Iran and the U.S. see eye to eye, inter alia, regarding:

• Freedom of press;
• Freedom of speech;
• Freedom of religion;
• Freedom of assembly;
• The right to petition government for a redress of grievances;
• Protection from unreasonable search and seizure;
• The right to due process;
• Respect for private property;
• Trial by jury;
• The right to counsel;
• Prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment.

Lest we forget, it is this same Bill of Rights which allows each of us to post comments to New York Times op-eds without fear of being hauled off in the middle of the night to the equivalent of Tehran's infamous Evin Prison.

A pity that Cohen has not taken the time to examine the desperate plight of Iran's Baha'is, the hanging of Iranian homosexuals, or the stoning to death of Iranian women accused of adultery, before pronouncing judgment concerning values held in common by the U.S. and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

According to the Times, "Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive." My submission was not "on-topic" or "abusive"? Judge for yourselves, taking into account - or not taking into account - how the Times is willing to publish comments that label all Israelis "greedy".

Sure, I'll send a copy of my censored comment to Andrew Rosenthal and ask for his opinion. What do you think are the chances he'll reply this time after his newspaper censored the Bill of Rights?


  1. I am beginning to think that one's email address is used to unilaterally block comments from people who might write something too uniquely persuasive, if the NYT topic has anything to do with Israel.

    In your case, anything to do with Roger Cohen?

    I have never had a problem with NYT blocking my comments on any other topic. Just got blocked TWICE at the Lede on Noam Chomsky, yet other comments were approved that expressed similar opinion. Shrug.

  2. Thanks. I have often been blocked in response to Cohen, Rich and Collins, and it seems that there have been periods when I have been blacklisted. Is the NYT trying to "protect the quarterback," or, is there a sacrosanct political agenda which is intolerant of criticism?

  3. Maybe both. It may be the person who is moderating the comments. You may be encountering the same moderator? Maybe those columnists have a blacklist of commenters?

    It reminds me of the time I spent inside Obama's official campaign website in 2008. Every time I reported a truly objectionable comment about Israel, I was ignored. MYBO took action only when Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs post screenshots, an action totally independent from any of my reports.

    I just read in The New Yorker that Andrew Breitbart is expanding his blogsites to include "Big Jerusalem".

    And, is another possible venue for your voice, although Benjamin Kerstein is already writing from Israel..

    Having followed the Peter Beinart blogfest very closely since his NYRB 'essay' got posted online, my advice is to become the blogger, not the commenter :)

    One irony of Beinart's piece is that he claims it was originally intended for the New York Times Sunday Magazine, but they had 'stylistic', not 'ideological' differences. My take is the NYT did not want subscription cancellations, the same reason they do not publish Roger Cohen in the metro editions. BTW, Cohen and Beinart seem totally entranced by Fayyad. Neither seems to think it relevant that Fayyad was appointed and has no political base.

  4. Thanks for the suggestions.

    Meanwhile, the Times refused to post my comment concerning Dowd, but permitted my comment re Krugman. I haven't been "blacklisted" again.

    Re Cohen's disappearance from metro editions, I have no information. I did complain after his op-ed, "What Iran's Jews Say", and was promised an answer from the Public Editor whether the item conformed with NYT standards of ethical journalism, but never heard back.

  5. Yes, I noticed your comment on Krugman, and mine was accepted as well even though I quoted a NYT book review from 1982 of Robert Caro's LBJ bio that exposed how cash from Texas oil flowed through LBJ with FDR's permission to keep his Dem majority in the 1940 congress. Krugman has descended into political hackdom since 2008, and I used to look forward to his columns.

    I heard on National Public Radio yesterday a bit about a software program named 'Discuss' that is being used by hundreds of news websites to filter 'objectionable' comments.
    I do believe the NYT still uses humans.

    Roger Cohen is too far left for the NYT readership of the PRINT edition. Quite a fight for newsstand sales AND home delivery subscribers these days with the revised WSJ, now covering NY metro news and politics, sports and style. As for op-ed, when you can read Bret Stephens and Peggy Noonan in the WSJ, why pay for the NYT?

    Current Vanity Fair notes the NYT has lost it's position as a "reliable news source".
    Well, the NYT will always reign supreme for wedding announcements!

  6. Thanks, anonymous.

    My understanding from past correspondence with Andrew Rosenthal - when he was still writing to me - was that the Times' "moderators" are indeed human, albeit, in my opinion, highly politicized.

    You're right about the WSJ. Peggy Noonan is head and shoulders above Maureen Dowd.