Wednesday, April 30, 2003

The twisted Times

If there's even a hint of racism or sexism, count on the New York Times to lead the fight in its news and editorial pages. But when the subject is antisemitism the Times seems somewhat reticent to condemn. This is astonishing. According to the FBI's hate crime statistics Jews are the ethnic group that suffers from the highest rate of hate crimes in this country. (Check out page 13 of the report. Yes I know that more hate crimes are directed against blacks, but blacks have roughly 7 times the population of Jews in the U.S.)

The problem is with the Times's coverage of the new trial of Lemrick Nelson. After two trials, in which he's claimed that he never stabbed Yankel Rosenbaum during the 1991 Crown Heights pogrom, Nelson is changing his story. Now he's admitting to having stabbed Rosenbaum but that he wasn't motivated by hate. There's a problem with this claim. But in the Times report on Nelson's change this is left until the last paragraph.
Mr. Rosenbaum's older brother, Norman Rosenbaum, a former prosecutor in Australia, dismissed Mr. Jasper's arguments with a snort. Mr. Nelson, he said outside the courthouse, did not appear drunk in videotapes of the scene. As to the contention that Mr. Nelson's attack on his brother was motivated not by racial bias but simply by the excitement of the moment, Mr. Rosenbaum said it would have been impossible not to know what the excitement was about.

"The excitement was when that mob called out, `There's a Jew, let's get the Jew,' " he said. "It was the excitement of getting the Jew."
In fact what's worse than waiting until the last paragraph to note that the mob that attacked Yankel Rosenbaum yelled "...get the Jew" is that Newman (the Times reporter) presents that information through Norman Rosenbaum, Yankel's brother. Many accounts of the riot I've found, note that the members of the crowd identified Rosenbaum as a Jew. Unless drinking made Nelson deaf, this story establishes his motive as being based on hate. The information should have been presented earlier in the story to discredit Nelson's legal strategy and not simply as a statement of a bereaved brother.

Things are not going well for Nelson. Or shouldn't be. After essentially claiming that Nelson was deaf yesterday, (apparently he drank so much he couldn't hear anyone say "...get the Jew." the defense can't even establish that Nelson was drunk!
Lieutenant Sanossian testified yesterday in United States District Court that Mr. Nelson did not appear to be drunk, did not smell of alcohol, did not have problems following instructions and had no difficulty walking up the stairs of the station house when he and other officers took him back there from the hospital.
I would like to see the Times get as upset about this patently dishonest attempt to escape justice for murder as it did about Trent Lott's offensive but essentially harmless (to other people) remarks about Strom Thurmond's 1948 candidacy for president.
I won't hold my breath.

Thursday, April 03, 2003

The Times they are a-charging - Crippling the Blogosphere

Today I wanted to take another look at an excellent article I had recently read in the New York Times Magazine. It was Paul Berman's investigation into the philosophy of Sayyid Qutb, called the "The Philosopher of Islamic Terror." Well I went to my blog with a reference to the article and clicked the link. Go ahead try it. What happened?

Guess what? The Times now resolves the URL into its archives section and charges for the article. This is another step in the Times efforts to limit free access to its articles. First you could access articles for two weeks and get older articles through Yahoo or saved links. Then they shortened the free searches to a single week. Then they started charging for articles accessed through Yahoo news. Now they're charging for articles even if you have the links yourself.

I know that it's their property and they have a right to charge for it. Maybe they noticed that through blogs people were circumventing the for-fee accesses and they were losing money due to blogging.

The problem is that if more media outlets start doing this it will undermine one of the joys of blogging - being able to link to articles that you're critiquing. InstaPundit often brings up the skill with which bloggers do their tasks without editors. In truth, everyone edits a blog. If you misrepresent an article there's millions of editors out there to set you straight, or even to - gasp - Fisk you. Maybe the Times will relent. Maybe it's just another example of big corporate interests trying to squeeze the little guy.

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

Cantori's Wrong

This morning I switched to WBAL to get a traffic report. When I switched, the morning guy Dave Durian was interviewing Prof. Lou Cantori of UMBC. Even before I heard who it was I wasn't much impressed with the analysis. In addition to the typical complaint that the Americans were spread too thin, another thing that got me was that Cantori claimed that Iraqis are nationalists and prefer Saddam to the Americans. Really? Did he read today's David Ignatius column?
"It's too dangerous," he said. "We are scared from Saddam's people, 100 percent." He said Iraqis believe that Hussein's power is "like magic," invisible and impossible to destroy. "We will not sleep well until we know he's dead," he said.
Yeah these guys prefer Saddam.

Second Guessing Rumsfeld

There seems to be a parlor game in the media: second guessing Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. The most notorious of these articles "The Battle Between Rumsfeld and the Pentagon" by Seymour Hersh has gotten a lot of exposure. Hersh's article wasn't the first. (Several months ago the Washington Post reported that Rumsfeld had run afoul of a number of bureaucrats and generals in the Pentagon.) Hersh's premise, and of those that follow him, is that Rumsfeld is doing a bad thing by undermining the military. But is he? Maybe Rumsfeld isn't simply an ideologue but someone who's trying to change an entrenched culture. That could be a good thing.

Happily there are some people who don't view our leadership with such a jaundiced eye. Jim Hoagland makes Tommy Franks into something of a hero. And implicitly backs Rumsfeld.