Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Double Standard at the Waterbury Observer, Part V

This should probably be considered Part VI of the exchanges regarding the double-standards observed at The Waterbury Observer.

In Part I, I posted the text of the column I had submitted.

In Part II, I posted an anti-Israel screed he published in the January issue despite his clear indication that he wouldn't be publishing anything else on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

In Part III, I posted a letter I sent to him pointing out the double standard being observed in The Waterbury Observer.

In Part IV, I posted the text of the column asserting Ross had co-founded AIPAC when he was no more than five years old.

I then posted the text of a letter I sent responding to the misrepresentation in an editors note and blatant factual errors in the February column referred to in Part IV.

Last week, I ran into John Murray in the locker room at the YMCA and asked him whether he received that letter.

He tersely responded that he had received it but was not going to publish it, saying he was going to "put a stop to it," referred to name calling and then ran away as I tried to discuss things with him.

Since I was not given the opportunity to discuss things with John, I sent him the following letter, which will probably be the final chapter in this saga.

Dear John,

If you actually meant what you said when we ran into each other in the Y and will stop publishing not only the responses to the irresponsible, error-filled anti-Israel diatribes but the screeds themselves, it will be a step towards responsibility even though you are not permitting me to respond to the personal attacks on me published in the January issue.

I had hoped to have a brief, civilized conversation with you, but since you clearly didn't want to talk, running away even as I was trying to respond to your terse statement that you were going to "put a stop to it," I'll mention some of the things you didn't let me say in person in this open letter.

First of all, you referred to "name-calling." While the writers of the anti-Israel screeds published in The Waterbury Oberver engaged in personal attacks and one may argue they also engaged in name-calling, those of us responding to those screeds did neither.

Although some may consider it a fine distinction, I commented on what Marilyn Aligata and George Hajjar wrote, but did not attack them personally. Similarly, in my letter which you are not publishing, responding to Marie-Therese Saad's error-filled screed, I commented on some of the more astounding factual errors, but did not personally attack her.

(This does not necessarily imply any moral or ethical superiority; it may merely reflect the reality that the Israel-haters have such a weak case they'd have to be virtually silent if they didn't resort to misinformation, disinformation and personal attacks.)

Personally, I think you owe me a public apology for your editor's note regarding my letter in the February issue.

Although any intelligent person reading my letter would realize your note effectively completely misrepresented what I had written about your double-standard (giving your decision not to publish anything more on the Arab-Israeli conflict as an excuse for not publishing a column of mine but then publishing Hajjar's diatribe), it's likely not everyone reading your note actually read my letter and of those who did some probably did not notice the disconnect between my letter and your note.

Finally, your stated decision to "put a stop to it" does not absolve you of the ethical responsibility, incorporated both in the Code of Ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Statement of Principles of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, to "promptly and prominently" correct the blatant factual errors in Saad's column published in the February issue of The Waterbury Observer.

I'll remind you of the two errors I mentioned in my earlier letter:

1. Saad's assertion that Dennis Ross was a co-founder of AIPAC, an organization that was started when he was approximately five years old.

2. Saad's assertion that Dennis Ross was a member of AIPAC.

You would, of course, have the same obligation to issue corrections if there had been any factual errors in any of my letters or columns, although that point is purely academic.

In any case, I look forward to the end of double-standards in The Waterbury Observer regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict.



Within an hour of sending that message to John Murray, I was sent the following response.
I wish you well in your passionate pursuit of justice. There will be no apology from the Observer to you, because none is due.
Good luck in the future.


The refusal to issue the corrections called for by the various ethics standards is not unexpected. We shall see whether John follows through with his resolution to "put an end to this," making this the final chapter in the saga.

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