Archive for October, 2008

`New York Times Bias Hits Record High’

Friday, October 3rd, 2008

Gary Rosenblatt, editor and publisher

(Return to Jewish Week Homepage)

It started, of course, with Mideast coverage, which was upsetting enough. But now The New York Times bias in its reporting has gone too far. For those who have not yet participated in protests and boycotts, this is the time to act, before it spreads even further.

The frightening fact is that subjective words and phrases have now reached the most widely read spot of the world’s most famous newspaper: yes, the Weather Report in the top right-hand corner of Page 1, every day of the year.

Have you not noticed the recent reports that predict “ample sunshine” for the coming day? Who is The Times to define “ample”? Is it not true that one man’s “ample” is another’s “insufficient”?

Why was “sunny” replaced after years?

And then there are descriptions of “bitter cold,” “patchy fog” or “heavy rain.” How subjective can you be? And where will it end?

But do not despair. A rally will be held in front of The Times new headquarters in midtown at noon next Sunday (weather permitting, so check the forecast), sponsored by the newly-formed Whether Or Not You Believe Us (WONYBU), a group that promises to monitor Times coverage far more closely, and widely.

A spokesman said “no section of the paper of record is now protected from our watchful eye,” noting objections in recent Sports reports to phrases like “pathetic Mets” and “disappointing Yankees,” which he called “highly charged,” as well as disparaging descriptions in the Bridge column like “South opens with a flat hand.”

Not to be outdone, a new Web site, CLOUDY (Citizens for Lawful, Overt, Unbiased, Distilled Yammering), has already pledged to sponsor boycotts of a number of leading dailies around the country, as well as public radio and television stations, and then to undertake a study of the accuracy of their weather reporting.

“How can you be wrong half the time and maintain credibility?” she asked.

As for the upcoming rally, since WONYBU is a non-profit group, Barack Obama, who had been scheduled to address the predicted throng, was asked not to appear. Same for John McCain.

“It’s a shame they won’t be there,” said a spokesman for the Stop The Weather rally, “but we think the cause is a righteous one and people are outraged enough to show up. And bring your umbrellas, just in case.”

Obama had planned to demand “change” in the weather, saying that is what the country needs at this time — and he predicted that it is coming. McCain reportedly is hoping for at least four more years of the current climate.

Who’s Fasting Today and Why?

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008

Gary Rosenblatt, Editor and Publisher

(Return to Jewish Week Homepage)

After feasting for two days on festive Rosh Hashanah meals, there no doubt are many of us who have sworn off food today. But there are others who are doing the same for religious rather than dietary reasons.

That’s because the day after Rosh Hashanah on the Jewish calendar is Tzom Gedaliah, the Fast of Gedaliah, a little-known minor fast (meaning it is “only” from dawn to dark, unlike Yom Kippur and Tisha B’Av, which start the night before).

The Gedaliah we refer to was Gedaliah ben Achicham, a Jew who was appointed governor of Judea by the conquering Babylonians after the destruction of the Temple in 586 B.C.E. Some Jews criticized him as a puppet of the hated enemy, and he was assassinated by his fellow Jews, some say on Rosh Hashanah.

The prophet Jeremiah had hoped Gedaliah would permit the Temple to be rebuilt, and he considered his death a tragedy, particularly because it was at the hand of Jews.

When I was in high school, a friend told me he didn’t fast on Tzom Gedaliah because “if I died, would Gedaliah fast for me?”

But the truth is the day is a meaningful reminder of the dangers of Jewish violence against Jews as we prepare to mark the 13th yahrtzeit of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, killed by a modern-day Jewish zealot, and as we read of increasing incidents of hostility in Israel among a small group of militants opposed to territorial compromise.

As long as the land is seen by some as holier than the lives of fellow Jews, we need days like this for fasting and reflection.