The NYT Is Having a Meltdown Over Trump’s Israel Nominee

David Friedman
David Friedman
December 17, 2016

For a moment this week it felt as if the sneering, embittered media hysteria surrounding Donald Trump was starting ever so slightly to subside. But not so fast. The New York Times, the paper of record of urban liberal contempt for Deplorable America, discovered a fresh new outrage: Trump’s nominee for ambassador to Israel.

David Friedman is a prominent and successful attorney in New York who has spent 20 years representing Donald Trump, among other clients. He is also a proud Jew who holds unapologetic pro-Israel views that are heretical in Times-world, and he has also expressed acid disdain for the kind of Jewish anti-Israel activism regularly glorified in the pages of the Times.

So he must be destroyed—and to destroy him he must be lied about. Which is what the Times did.

The report, by Matthew Rosenberg, is a caricature of political frustration and resentment masquerading as news. The headline, of course, is "Trump Chooses Hard-Liner As Ambassador to Israel," the phrase "hard-liner" being an all-purpose Times denigration of anyone who holds political views anathema to liberals, but never as a description of liberals who hold views anathema to conservatives.

Friedman, Rosenberg writes, is "a bankruptcy lawyer aligned with the Israeli far right" who "did not wait long on Thursday to signal his intention to upend the American approach" to Israel. He has "no diplomatic experience" and "could end up undercutting the security of Israel and the United States and condemn ‘the Palestinians to further disenfranchisement and dispossession.’" (The quote is from the anti-Israel activist Daniel Levy, who helped found J Street, an important detail that Rosenberg curiously omitted.)

Rosenberg expanded his attack on Friedman on Twitter:

What does it say about the newsroom culture at the Times that someone so openly and casually biased about a particular issue is employed to cover that issue? And wasn’t it only a few weeks ago that Times brass released a mea culpa admitting that the paper had let its hostility to Trump get out of hand?

But this tweet is where things go completely off the rails, because here Rosenberg is actually fabricating a claim about Friedman:

What Friedman actually said at the Saban Forum, which this claim is taken from, is that J Street, which promotes itself as a Jewish and pro-Israel group, embodies the values of neither Judaism nor the pro-Israel community (allow me to enthusiastically co-sign this assessment). But instead of reporting this, Rosenberg replaced "J Street" with "Jews who support the two-state solution" and asserted that Friedman said all those millions of Jews "are not Jewish."

That is the small lie. The bigger lie is the piece’s studious conflation of J Street with "Jews who support two states" in order to then conflate opposition to J Street with opposition to two states—and to present Friedman as an enemy of American Jews. But nobody opposes J Street because of the group’s claimed support for two states. The group earns its opprobrium through ceaseless apologetics for Israel’s enemies, promotion of anti-Israel policies such as the Iran deal and the endorsement by Congress of the Goldstone Report, and fundraising for anti-Israel politicians such as Keith Ellison.

What the Times is doing here is obvious: The paper is attempting to normalize the extremist agenda of J Street and then to rebrand mainstream critics of that agenda as the real extremists. This isn’t reporting—it is political activism, and not even honest political activism. It is also the reason why fewer and fewer people trust the New York Times today and why the president-elect is right to castigate the paper so disrespectfully. The Times has earned it.