In my previous column, “Rarely Do I Agree With the Rev. Jeremiah Wright - An Open Letter to the New York Times,” I sought to expose how a New York Times article by Jodi Kantor had used fraud and deception to portray those hesitant about voting for Barack Obama as racists. Unfortunately, I had no idea of just how far and dishonest she and the Times had been, something I found out only upon further investigation.
In the midst of her shameful and race baiting piece, Kantor quoted one Rabbi Ruvi New wholly out of context. When I first read that part of the article, I figured that his quote about a few Jews in Century Village deciding the election was a joke, him possibly having tired of a few loud people on both sides and seeking to quiet them.
As I thought that the way it was written was still an injustice to the rabbi, I contacted him. As it turns out, the truth was far worse than could have been imagined. His comment wasn’t some one liner. In context it resembled nothing similar to how it had been portrayed. And Kantor knew that full well.
Here’s what really happened:
As Kantor correctly stated, the quote happened toward the end of a weekly class being offered by Rabbi New. Any accuracy ends there.
The rabbi was speaking about the importance of each vote. Someone at the lecture, who had gotten up moments before and then returned to their seat, said that on her way back “someone had asked her” if Rabbi New was saying that “the whole election will all boil down to a few old Jews in Century Village.” To this the rabbi responded along the lines of, “Maybe. Like we said, the election may well be as close as the 2000 election. In such a case it’s very possible it’s all going to boil down to the efforts and votes of people here, or as you say, it’s possible it’s all going to boil down to ‘a few old’ Jews in Century Village.”
Everyone at the lecture understood him to be responding to the questioner’s seemingly over the top question, essentially giving her words right back to her and telling her that the underlying message, the importance of each vote, was true. All the rabbi said, in context, was that every vote counts. Of course, that’s not how Kantor portrayed it.
The person at the door who had asked the participant to ask the loaded question was Jodi Kantor herself, who was still listening from outside and had purposely asked it in that way. Of course, not even the attendee who she approached realized that she was a New York Times reporter.
And it gets worse still:
After the lecture, Kantor called Rabbi New and interviewed him for 2 hours on a number of issues, none of which were mentioned in the article. At no time did they discuss the quote she was about to use (the one that she’d purposely fed him to keep it in line with the other ridiculous quotes she’d amassed for her article).
The next day, Rabbi New sent her an email asking if she needed any more info on their multiple areas of discussion. Her reply was that the only quote she planned on using was, “it’s all going to boil down to a few old Jews in Century Village,” in other words, the one she had planted from the start.
The shocked Rabbi New then asked her to please remove it as it was inaccurate and out of context. She replied with an email clearly designed to intimidate, stating that the quote is a quote and that she was using it, period. She went as far as to say that she’d passed it around the newsroom and everyone agreed it was a great quote on the election situation and she “doesn’t know why” he’s “so offended by it.”
(A woodsman who works hours to build a fire and excitedly informs his group of travelers that “we finally have fire,” can technically be quoted as having yelled out “Fire!!” but the deception and fraud involved in portraying it as such would be obvious. It would also be interesting to know if Kantor informed the entire newsroom of the true context of the quote and if so how many Times people were involved in this fraud).
Rabbi New says that he’s “deeply pained by the way (he) was quoted and that she (Kantor) chose… words that could be so negatively misconstrued.”
What’s especially egregious, aside from Kantor’s entire article (see my last column, referenced above), is who she chose to attack. While today was the first time I’ve had a conversation with Rabbi New (though I’ve seen him before at a few large functions), his synagogue is about twenty minutes from where I live and as such, I know people who know him well.
According to those who know him best, Rabbi Ruvi New, aside from being a profound lecturer and scholar, is a dedicated community leader. His day is often spent taking calls from people in crisis, be they elderly seniors or young couples. He hosts community meals on the Jewish Sabbath and gives inspiring classes and lectures free of charge, even though, aside from everything else he does, he’s solely responsible for his organization’s fundraising. A simple look at his organization’s website, www.chabadbocabeaches.com, will show anyone the depth and scope of Rabbi New’s work.
It’s rare to find both intellect and dedication in one person, but according to those I’ve spoken with, Rabbi New holds both. Most believe that such a man should be praised. Kantor and the New York Times saw better fit to malign him. Not surprising, after all, that’s just what they do to real Americans who make this country what it is.
As mentioned in the last column, Kantor stepped down as editor of the Times’ Art Section amid controversy. Rev. Jeremiah Wright also recently complained that she played fast and loose with facts he had given her in an interview, leading me to state that her lack of ethics and professionalism were among the few things that I could agree with Wright on.
Jodi Kantor’s harmful and untrue portrayal of the entire story has hurt African-Americans, Jews and seniors. Her actions are despicable and the New York Times should be ashamed of itself for printing her trash, especially as a “news article.”
But purposely quoting someone 180 degrees out of context is another matter still. It shows that the New York Times is no more reputable than it was when Jayson Blair still wrote for it, before it supposedly purged itself of reporters and editors who purposely submitted fictitious and false quotes for print. But while I could advocate the firing of Jodi Kantor, I won’t.
Unlike Blair, who fraudulently quoted people dozens, if not hundreds of times, there are only a few select times that Kantor has displayed such shameful and atrocious behavior. She is also far from the only New York Times reporter who possesses an appalling lack of integrity. I believe that she can be redeemed and would learn a greater lesson by being forced to issue a detailed, full and unequivocal clarification and that doing so would do far more in forcing the New York Times to adopt some standards of decency. It is therefore in everyone’s interest to demand this of them instead.
Clark Hoyt, the Times’ Public Editor, who cares notoriously little for truth and for perspective, has yet to respond to the original complaint. People who care about his paper’s race baiting, its insults to Blacks, to Jews and to seniors and its false portrayal of a caring, dedicated and exceptional clergyman should contact him at (212) 556-7652 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell them to adopt some minimal standards of decency.
As for those who are looking for news that’s actually fit to print, suffice it to say that it took a columnist for CFP (www.canadafreepress.com) to expose the latest in the New York Times’ scandalous behavior of falsification, a pattern that has gone on far too long and that is much more widespread than just the doings of one reporter. By the way, that too is another reason why firing Kantor would do nothing, while forcing the NY Times to print a detailed retraction with the truth spelled out just might.