Back in 1999 the Monitor, inspired by the political humorist P.J. O’Rourke, published an “Enemies List” of anti-Israel journalists. The column struck such a responsive chord, with readers nominating dozens of their own choices, that several follow-ups to the original list eventually appeared over the next couple of years.
The time is ripe for a new list of Media Enemies, but this one will consist entirely of readers’ selections. Names (and brief explanations for their inclusion) should be e-mailed to the address at the bottom of this column. Results will be published in an upcoming column.
Meanwhile, looking back on the “honorees” from 1999-2001 – most of whom are still active – there are few real surprises. The top vote-getter was the late ABC anchorman Peter Jennings, with former New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief Deborah Sontag close behind. Among the others listed were the following worthies:
Anthony Lewis: A relic of Liberalism Past, this former Times columnist insisted on viewing the world from a Palestinian perspective.
William A. Orme: Deborah Sontag’s husband and partner in propaganda for the Times.
Mike Wallace: The former Myron Wallace rates a prime exhibit in the anti-Israel hall of shame.
Robert Novak: The Jewish-born columnist keeps going as one of the nation’s most relentlessly hostile pundits.
Leonard Fein: Despite half-hearted mea culpa for having trusted too much in Arafat, the Forward columnist remains a devotee of Israeli concessions and creation of a Palestinian state.
Thomas Friedman: Somewhat more restrained these past several years in his criticism of Israel – he seemed genuinely shocked and disillusioned by the Second Palestinian Intifada and 9/11 – but can’t say anything negative about the Palestinians without throwing in a nasty comment about Israel for balance.
Taki: Veteran political and lifestyles writer whose Israel bashing often crosses the line into outright Jew baiting, he now runs a paleoconservative website.
Joseph Sobran: Got himself fired from National Review years ago because of his anti-Israel, anti-Jewish invective; he’s still very much at it as an online columnist.
Michael Lerner: Not a media person in the usual sense, this so-called “New Age rabbi” publishes the radical magazine Tikkun and is quoted often by sympathetic journalists.
Bob Simon: Veteran CBS newsman who apparently never met an Israeli government official he trusted.
Reader comment generated by the 199-2001 listings included a number of nominations from R. Feinstein of Brooklyn: the longtime leftist pro-Palestinian columnist Alexander Cockburn; talk show host Charlie Rose (“when he interviews Edward Said or Hosni Mubarak he’s deferential…when he interviews Israelis he’s contentious”); and Prof. Noam Chomsky, who, though “not a journalist, is something of a media creation – and one who certainly belongs on any list of anti-Israel personalities.”
Sylvia Black’s e-mailed list of villains included Don Hewitt (“as the creator and driving force of ‘60 Minutes,’ he’s ultimately responsible for that program’s decades of Israel-bashing”); and syndicated columnist Georgie Anne Geyer (“who writes of Arabs as though they were dashing figures on horseback while reserving an icy tone for anything Israeli”).
Only a few readers took note of the British press, which was and still is considerably more hostile to Israel than what most of us in the U.S. are accustomed to. Dr. L.B. Sokolic wrote from London that “virtually every journalist operating in the UK is anti-Israel, if not worse.”
“Virtually everyone connected with BBC TV news is anti,” he noted, “with John Simpson (who also writes for the Sunday Telegraph) the worst.”
Among newspapers, wrote Sokolic, the Guardian has a history of employing journalists steeped in anti-Israel bias, including the notoriously vicious David Hirst, whose book The Gun and the Olive Branch is a classic example of distorted history. Sokolic described Suzanne Goldberg, the Guardian’s Israel correspondent at the time of his letter, as “bad but mostly stupid.”
As for the Mideast writers on The Independent, Phil Reeves and Robert Fisk, they “should be on anyone’s list of enemies,” said Sokolic, who noted hat one of the original moneymen behind the paper was the ardently Zionist Lord Sieff, of Marks and Spencer fame.