rick sanchez 311.
(photo credit: Creative Commons)
readers know by now, The Jerusalem Post has let go one of its main columnists,
Larry Derfner, for comments he made on his blog israelleft.com in the wake of
the murder of eight Israelis near Eilat on August 18. Much has been said about
it, but allow me to take this opportunity to voice what I think needs to be
In publishing a weekly magazine, I have been tasked with the
necessity of working with writers on both ends of the spectrum and everywhere in
While Larry was mostly known for his “Rattling the Cage” column
in the Post and his personal blog, he was often also the author, twice a month,
of the cover story in this magazine. In his column, Larry left no room for doubt
as to where he stood on the political spectrum, and numerous talkbacks and
letters proved further that his readership was vast and either enamored of or
incensed by his views. His magazine articles, however, have remained under the
radar for the very simple reason that they were de-editorialized, and I thank
Larry for his efforts to ensure that it stayed that way.
I imagine it was
no easy task to write a neutral article, without infusing it with his own
opinions about the subject matter and what he thought needed to be accomplished
to fix whatever problem the article addressed. I appreciate that Larry honored
the editorial decision to keep the magazine features
Larry “the leftist” appears to have made many an enemy
among the Post readership, but I will take a stand here and say that Larry the
person is easy to work with and is always open to ideas and suggestions.
Although I have only been at the helm of the Magazine a few short months, I have
grown to appreciate him as a writer who has boundless energy and an insatiable
desire to get to the bottom of stories, gather the facts, interview the right
people and get it all into written format.
Anybody who is familiar with
my writings will know that Larry and I stand at rather opposite ends of the
political spectrum, but I have not allowed that to get in the way of our
professional writer-editor relationship – something that, for me, remains
LARRY’S BLOG entry incensed many and while he did apologize and
remove his post, it was already too late. His remarks were too damaging to the
It is important to note that other news agencies have fired
reporters for far less inflammatory remarks than Larry made in his blog. In
October 2010, CNN host Rick Sanchez was fired after making controversial remarks
the previous day on a satellite radio show.
Sanchez apparently referred
to Daily Show host Jon Stewart as a “bigot,” and complained that Jews – like
Stewart – didn’t face discrimination. He also suggested that CNN, and perhaps
the media industry more broadly, was run by Jews and elitists who looked down on
Hispanics like himself.
In July of that year, Atlanta-based CNN
journalist Octavia Nasr, a 20-year veteran of the network and senior editor for
Middle East affairs, was fired for a Twitter comment in which she expressed
sadness at the death of Iraqiborn Lebanese grand ayatollah Muhammad Hussein
Fadlallah. In the post, the journalist stated that she was “sad to hear of the
passing of Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah... One of Hezbollah’s giants I
respect a lot.”
Every publisher must have clear policies regarding the
journalistic freedom its staff writers can exercise, and the Post
is a Zionist newspaper. As such, it must disassociate
itself completely from comments expressed by Larry on his personal blog last
week, in which he appeared to have justified Palestinian terrorism against
The egregious remarks were exceptionally offensive to all
Israelis. While it is important to stress that the Post
did not publish the
piece, the paper objects in the strongest possible terms to it.
said, in the wake of Larry’s blog post, I have received numerous letters from
readers, and while a good bulk were complaints, many voiced support of and
agreement with Larry. My point is that the Post
has a vast readership – in the
millions – and if we consistently receive letters from readers on both ends of
the spectrum, it can mean only one thing: This paper is doing a good job of
presenting a platform for varied opinions. Readers on the Left often complain we
are too Right, and those on the Right complain we are too Left.
within our pages, we’re managing to present a balanced perspective on just about
every debatable issue.
It is our responsibility to ensure that our
readers have access to a wide range of opinions – within reason – and we will
continue to uphold the highest journalistic standards as possible.