Listen to the hollow man: Erlanger defends himself

If you haven’t already, listen to the radio show with Steve Feldman and Lori Marcus in which both Steve Erlanger and I appear in tandem. His interview is a fine example of how someone like Erlanger, confronted with observations and conclusions he has never deigned to discuss in his writings, has almost no refutation. In some cases he agrees, reaffirms and adds to their points. So why does he not talk about these matters? Why does he systematically reinforce the PCP “take” that has Israeli behavior as the causative agent in this conflict?

Even as he has to back peddle, it’s sideways. All of this economic misery dates back to the Intifada of 2000, he points out. But why did we have this self-destructive descent into violence when the Palestinians had their statehood on the negotiating table, a violence which has, in the past 7 years, metastasized and now threatens to engulf the whole world? “Partly because of the violence that came out of the Intifada, and partly Israel’s security measures to counter that violence…” he explains. Good “even handedness.”

But pay close attention. The “even-handedness” is in the hand supposedly concerning the Palestinians: “the violence which came out of the Intifada.” Violence is the subject of the sentence and the agent here, not Palestinians. On the other hand, the agent of the second part is “Israel’s security measures” that respond to this (disembodied) violence (for which – my guess is Erlanger believes – the Israelis are at least half responsible).

This stilted language that assiduously avoids being clear about Palestinian responsibility for anything negative reminds me of the British CNN reporter talking about Palestinian celebrations for 9-11, which we used in Icon of Hatred. “Palestinian resentment against America for its ongoing support as it is seen of Israel in this conflict, in this Middle Eastern conflict, however while some Palestinians were taking to the streets in apparent celebration….” No need for the “however,” the “while,” the “apparent…” but, along with the explanatory “for its ongoing support of Israel” they all serve to “pull the punches” of this clearly dangerous news report.

You listen to his other excuses for not reporting and tell me what you think.

My friend Antidhimmi thinks that Erlanger, despite his intelligence and like so many other journalists, is a very ordinary person. Like many of the journalists who inform us about the world, he is not up to the serious task before him. He does a third rate job of trying to understand the issues, has extremely limited self-awareness, avoids confrontations, and reports with the pack. So in the long run his intelligence ends up working against us, his intended audience. He packages this mediocre work so well that it looks really professional and thoughtful and defends it with the kind of hollow and evasive excuses he gave on this show, which were a low-key version of the fatuous generalizations about not being intimidated, not having a double standard, and doing a pretty good job which he made in the conference in November. And in this, he resembles the rest of his MSM colleagues far more than any of us can afford. The generation that cannot see Pallywood under their noses.

As to the big question: Why didn’t he report on incitement to hatred in the Palestinian territories? — an issue nicely treated by Ken Levin at Frontpage? – he responds by saying, “well that’s an entirely different article.”

No it isn’t. It’s critical to understanding why a generation has been destroyed and lives in insane hatred and resentment. But let’s grant Erlanger his point, despite how facetious an evasion it is. Okay, Mr. Erlanger, as Steven and Lori then pointed out, “we look forward to seeing the article. Soon.”

I challenge Steven Erlanger formally. I think you don’t write about this material because you’re afraid of what the effect on your contacts within the Palestinian territories would be, your access, and even your safety. I think you can’t write about it, and if you do, it will end up sounding a lot like that CNN reporter reporting on the celebrations of 9-11… although… while… apparent… and especially, all direct response to Israeli behavior.

Go ahead, Steve, prove us wrong. We’re calling you out.

11 Responses to Listen to the hollow man: Erlanger defends himself

  1. Cynic says:

    Like many of the journalists who inform us about the world, he is not up to the serious task before him. He does a third rate job of trying to understand the issues, has extremely limited self-awareness, avoids confrontations, and reports with the pack.

    For someone who criticizes the Israelis for not considering the deaths of Lebanese “civilians” and then refuses to consider Israeli humanitarian efforts to aid said Lebanese this is too kind an appraisal.
    The guy has an agenda which produces a malicious outcome.

  2. Joel Fishman says:

    If Mr. Erlanger is a serious professional, he should step up to the plate.

    Joel Fishman
    Jerusalem
    Israel

  3. antidhimmi says:

    In the final analysis, Erlanger and his cohort of ordinary men are simply careerists. Following the pack is safe and requires little effort. Using the standard journalist tropes insures that he will be welcomed by his equally mediocre colleagues. His articles are not part of a plot against Jews, or hatred of Israel. They are simply the product of “grey men”, lazy, uncurious professionals who seek what is safe and secure and are therefore insured a place at the table. They do not challenge conventional wisdom and they absolutely never submit copy that their equally mediocre editors or colleagues might find shocking. They are reprehensible only because their errors are magnified by the access their work affords them. As a result, they amplify the prejudices of the most egregious elements on the planet. They simply repeat lies they are told without scrutiny, without morality, and without any sense of responsibility. After all why check the facts when everyone knows that Gaza has the densest population of any area in the world, or that all the problems in ther Middle East could be solved if only Israel and the Palestinians could reach an accommodation.

  4. Richard,
    Finally got a chance to listen – marvelous job on this. Steve and Lori were right on point too. Can he really be so lazy that he will put up with drubbings like this rather than deal with the whole issue. Instead of copping out by saying that the true intent and public agenda of the “Poor Palestinians” is not “part of the article” he should be dealing with it up front. How many of these sessions do you think it will take before Erlanger drops his snotty tone, charade of exasperation and the weary condescending tone and write with integrity?
    No, I’m not counting on it either.
    Best,
    YBM

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