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June 15, 2016 1:28 pm

NPR Producer: Deluge of Jew-Hatred in Response to Broadcast About Online Antisemitism Forced Program to Shut Down Comments Section (INTERVIEW)

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NPR's "Here and Now" program. Photo: Screenshot.

NPR’s “Here and Now” program. Photo: Screenshot.

A producer for a Boston-area National Public Radio (NPR) station expressed her shock on Wednesday at the barrage of antisemitic and racist remarks posted in response to a broadcast about online antisemitism — which resulted in the shutting down of the comments section of the station’s website. 

Karyn Miller-Medzon, a senior associate producer for 90.9 WBUR-FM NPR’s “Here and Now” nationally syndicated program, told The Algemeiner she was “caught by surprise” at the hatred spewed in response to a post of a previously broadcast, eight-minute segment highlighting the controversial “(((echo)))” symbol used by white supremacist groups and antisemites to track Jews online. The segment featured an interview with Anti-Defamation League (ADL) CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, who spoke about the organization’s decision to place the (((echo))) on its list of hate symbols. Within hours, she said, the site was flooded with vicious epithets.

“There was a deluge — over 100 comments — of offensive, racist and antisemitic remarks — the kind that you know people somewhere think but don’t expect to see,” she said. “Every time an offensive comment appeared, five or six more people would add their own comment to that one. So each comment would spawn new ones.”

According to Miller-Medzon, these included “stereotypical depictions of Jews, about their physiology and long noses, things like, ‘Well, of course, we want to show who the Jews are online so they don’t interbreed with the common population,’ and, ‘We wouldn’t have to use the (((echo))) symbol if Jews wore yellow stars.’”

As soon as she became aware of what was happening, Miller-Medzon said, she alerted the show’s host. She then contacted the managing editor, who informed the web department. An immediate decision was taken to remove the antisemitic and racist remarks and shut down the comments section. A WBUR web moderator announced the closure and linked to the station’s community guidelines:

npr boston 1

“This kind of occurrence is rare,” Miller-Medzon told The Algemeiner. “We are a news and current-affairs show, and report on everything you can imagine. We do sometimes cover controversial topics that spawn offensive comments, and we take steps to remove the comments and ban the user. So it’s not uncommon for us to remove a post or warn posters that if they continue with their offensiveness, we will ban them. However, I can’t remember ever having to shut down all comments on a particular segment, and I’ve been here a long time.” 

While there were a handful of people speaking out against the antisemitic comments, she said, any defense against them proved futile. “The comments were coming so quickly and from people with such clear hatred that I don’t think it was realistic for someone who felt otherwise to engage them,” she said. “Engaging would have led to more of the same, and I think the wisest thing to do was not to engage.”

Miller-Medzon said she believes the alt-right community — which is responsible for creating the (((echo))) symbol — got wind of the “Here and Now” segment and decided to launch an online trolling attack. “We have wonderful listeners and readers who regularly, in our online forums, really defend the oppressed and speak out against racism,” she said. “This is not our regular community of listeners, because we don’t usually get this kind of venom.”

Miller-Medzon also bemoaned the timing of the incident — which “couldn’t have been more depressing” — in the wake of Sunday morning’s massacre in Orlando and the show’s subsequent reporting on hate crimes. “On the day when one of the few segments we ran wasn’t about Orlando, this segment spawned even more hatred,” she said. “This was all a surprising turn of events.”

She first brought the issue to light in a Twitter post on Tuesday:

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  • Gary Katz

    The internet is filled with toads who troll articles about Jews or Israel, just waiting to spew their venom. Such tiny lives they must lead…

  • Alan Stein

    What’s shocking is that NPR, a network that itself sows anti-Semitism with its frequent, heavily biased and factually challenged programs about Israel, claims it was shocked.

  • “We have wonderful listeners and readers who regularly, in our online forums, really defend the oppressed and speak out against racism,” she said. “This is not our regular community of listeners, because we don’t usually get this kind of venom.”

    I am betting that those wonderful people regularly speak out against racism but seldom if ever speak out against Jew hatred. Bigotry and prejudice against Jews, initiated and fueled by an obsessive focus on alleged and exaggerated transgressions of Israel and on an irrational and discriminatory hatred of Zionism, has insinuated itself into the mainstream and into communities of “wonderful” people who otherwise stand up against racism, including, I would bet, some of the wonderful listeners of the station.

  • Yale

    I would think this experience would convince Karyn Miller-Medzon that some introspection is in order.

    Do the listeners on the alt-right differ in any meaningful way from those of the self-styled “Progressive” Left NPR sees itself as serving?

    What is it about NPR and its coverage of matters Jewish, including Israel, that attracts a large following among the alt-right?

    Might this not be a wake-up call for recognition that the biases that have permeated NPR are part of the problem, so the solution must start with changes in her studio.

  • Zvi

    “This kind of occurrence is rare…”

    No, it’s not. That’s exactly the problem.

    Whenever a story about Jews, Israel or antisemitism is published in the mainstream media, comment sections are almost invariably deluged with blood libels, Holocaust denial, vicious conspiracy theories, bloodthirsty calls for genocide, obscene characterizations of Jews, etc. Antisemites from the far right, to the far left, to the far gone pile on.

    Antisemitism is a rapidly-growing problem, particularly on the left, and the disgusting attempts to ignore it, to paint it as less virulent than other hatreds or to blame the victims – the Jews – for it are simply making it more and more popular.

    Antisemites are absolutely obsessed with demonizing Jews and the Jewish state. They cannot bear to see anything positive or neutral published about it, and they insist on inventing new imaginary horrors that Jews are supposedly visiting upon other peoples. Like BDS, they attempt, by the sheer volume and audacity of their lies, to overwhelm positive discourse, and to leave nothing but slander and anger in their wake.

    As for dignifying neo-Nazis with terms like “the alt-right community”, stop whitewashing antisemites. If they are neo-Nazis, CALL THEM NEO-NAZIS. If they are white supremacists, call them that.

    • bill

      the self obsessive quality that supporters of Israel reflect is truly one of the most disgusting traits of mankind. Imagine a man murdering an innocent child and vilifying the child? This is true Zionism. Pure self obsessed conceit, the most horrific of human traits. There cannot be any doubt why any rational mind on earth would find Zionism so revulting and anti social and the most wicked threat to humanity.

      • MathProf66

        And here we see an example of the typical Neo-Nazi, Antisemitic screeds that overwhelmed the NPR comments section. “bill” is taking full advantage of the anonymity of the internet to spread yet MORE blood libels against Jews, with no facts, no logic, and no connection of any sort with reality – just blind hatred.

        Zionism is nothing more and nothing less than an assertion that the Jewish people have the same right to self-determination (in their own ancestral lands) as any other people on the planet.

        Anti-Zionism is an ideology of hatred and bigotry, that claims that the Jewish people do not deserve the same rights as others, that we are not fully human. It often disguises itself as a “human rights” movement, by making up imaginary wrongs, supposedly committed by “Zionists”, and then vilifying real Zionists over the imaginary wrongs.

        • Jewish people need to seek an understanding of WHY the world again hates the Jew. Please stop just saying that it is happening, and start reflecting on why it is happening. I’ve seen it increase 10 fold in my area, which isn’t even Jewish. Hate is born out of reason, right or wrong, those reasons are multiplying. I fear the end result. Please take some responsibility, hate is being fueled somehow. Dear Jewish people, you need only to assimilate in the world, and stop dividing the masses. We’ve seen this before, it didn’t end well.

  • Isahiah62

    obviously these NuttyProfessorRanting don’t get online much- I have never ever seen any discussion of Israel without these type of judenhass BDS comments

  • Jerome Stephens

    First, listening to NPR for many years has allowed me to hear a near unending stream of misstatements about Israel. As an Israeli I am offended and amazed at its subjectivity.

    At some level, NPR does not understand that the dividing line between being anti-Israel and anti-Semitic is virtually nonexistent.

    That a recent program resulted in the flow of anti-Semitic comments is not a shock. If one wants a pseudo-intellectual view of the news NPR is the place. Undoubtedly some of the comments received about your recent program came from listeners who gloat on the anti-Israel tone of your reports.

    • Herb Glatter

      David Mamet, playwright, labeled “NPR” as National Palestine Radio

  • Here in Ottawa we regularly listen to Boston NPR. Our impression is that the station is not itself immune to its own brand of soft anti-semitism. That it draws listeners who are sympathetic to the pathological scourge of Jew-hatred should be no surprise to them.

  • It’s too easy to blame the “alt-right community” for the pervasiveness of today’s Jew-hatred. Maybe some or even all of the offensive remarks to the NPR program referenced in the article were posted by such people; but if the producer wants to understand the motivation for much of today’s anti-Semitism, she should consider the prevalence of Jew-hatred the left.

    Studies show that anti-Semitism today is pervasive in progressive society. As reported in the “Annual Report: Anti-Semitism in 2013, Trends and Events” by Israel’s Ministry for Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs, for example, “[t]he anti-Zionism prevalent mainly on the left, which has already become an integral part of the permanent worldview of individuals and groups of the left, can today be defined as a cultural code replacing anti-Semitism and enabling its disseminators to deny all connection to anti-Semitism.”

    This is consistent with a 2014 German study analyzing anti-Semitic trends in a comprehensive survey of hate mail. Most offensive communications during the survey period came from the political mainstream, including university professors and the well-educated, not from fringe right-wing groups. In fact, only three percent of the offensive communications during the survey period came from right-wing nationalists. The observations of this study, which was conducted by Monika Schwarz-Friesel, Professor of Linguistics at the Technical University of Berlin and published in a book entitled, “The Language of Hostility toward Jews in the 21st Century,” are interesting in light of current trends among western progressives to criticize and delegitimize Israel using traditional anti-Semitic canards and imagery. These trends are especially apparent on college campuses and in the mainstream media – that is, institutional bastions of progressive political values.

    Though progressive anti-Zionists attempt to distinguish hatred of Israel from hatred of Jews, it is a distinction without a difference. Despite the myth of progressive tolerance, anti-Semitism has a long history on the political left going back to the earliest days of western enlightenment. Traditionally, European progressive movements had a mistrust of religion and nationality, and accordingly often disparaged the Jews, who represented the most enduring elements of both. Voltaire, Proudhon and Diderot (among many other progressive icons) were anti-Semitic. Moses Hess, the socialist intellectual said to have introduced Marx and Engels to Hegelian philosophy, left the movement because of its virulent anti-Semitism and became a Jewish nationalist. His break with the movement was signified by his publication of “Rome and Jerusalem: The Last National Question,” in which he advocated the Jews’ return to their homeland. (He wrote this now-classic work a quarter century before Herzl wrote “Der Judenstaat,” and as a consequence is recognized today as one of the first non-religious “proto-Zionists.”)

    The anti-Zionism espoused by so many progressives today employs the same stereotypes, tropes and conspiracy theories that have been used to disparage and dehumanize Jews for generations. Consequently, it is no different from old-fashioned Jew-hatred. It’s no surprise that “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” is so popular on the left (it’s also a best-seller throughout the Arab Middle East). The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) and Israel Apartheid Week movements (in which anti-Semitic themes are so painfully apparent) are the collective province of the progressive left in concert with Islamist groups and interests.

    This doesn’t excuse the political right from its past sins, but there has been recognition on the right and among mainstream conservatives of the evils of anti-Semitism and the need to acknowledge and repudiate historical complicity. Back in 1992, the late William F. Buckley purged the “National Review” of those he believed were using its pages as a forum for bigotry disguised as political criticism of Israel. His subsequent book, “In Search of Anti-Semitism,” proved to be a watershed in political self-analysis and moral accountability.

    Institutional progressivism, however, has yet to engage in any similar moral introspection. Instead, it often excuses anti-Semitism as political speech (or rationalizes it as a response to bad Jewish and/or Israeli behavior), even as it stifles critical discussion of Islamists as hate-speech. Unfortunately, the anti-Semitic tendencies often attributed to the “hard left” have infected the liberal mainstream to some degree, as evidenced by its failure to identify and condemn bigotry against Jews and Israel in the same sweeping way Buckley did in 1992, or to ostracize progressive extremists whose venom reeks of classical anti-Semitism.

    None of this is meant to exonerate those on the right, particularly on the extremist end of the spectrum, who continue to harbor anti-Semitic views and beliefs. But to blame the persistence of Jew-hatred on the right, or to assume it is an exclusively right-wing phenomenon, is to deny the left’s long history of anti-Jewish bigotry and to turn a blind-eye to progressive complicity in the resurgence of anti-Semitism today.

  • David

    Don’t take down the hateful comments, expose the haters. Show the comments and track them to find out who they are. Then expose them.

  • Larry Andrews

    Everyone knows that NPR stands for National Palestinian Radio. Why would she be surprised??

    • Isahiah62

      thanks! exact words I was going to type

      NPR “you built this” with your own biased “journolism”

  • The way to fight these haters is to go after them and destroy their web sites and threaten their way of life.

    Sheldon’s 32 billion $ is meaningless along with all the other wealthy Jews when we are threatened with death by these maniacs.

    Put together a well trained Jewish army of ex-Israelis and others and hunt them down.

    Jews get killed like Alan Berg and Jews do less than nothing pretending it never happened. They did the same with the beginning of teh Holocaust and how did that turn out for them>

  • ESLombard

    My explanation gets down to “One must have a Jewish mother because she will be concerned about your nutrition and relentlessly ambitious for you and often for herself.”

  • Ani

    Surprising? She must not read the comments section on the Washington Post site.

  • nat cheiman

    It seems the way of the world, currently

  • Reform School

    Despite its official-sounding moniker, the ADL (elected by nobody) does not even represent Adlai Stevemson.

  • Whats all the fuss about?? We all know that Islam is the source of all this hatred and racism. Surprised? Why?? Shut down Islam and the anti human hatred will dissapear.

    • William Weiswasser

      “Shut down Islam”??

      How do you propose to do that? Do you imagine that is somehow possible? Has it not occurred to you that the very suggestion is itself aggressive and offensive, as well as futile?

      While others have tried for a long time, with notable failure, to “shut down Judaism” how would you react if someone made that proposal? Think about that. Then open your eyes and see that your proposal likely provokes the same kind of reaction for Moslems. Your proposal boils down to this: the situation is bad, so let`s do what “they“ do and make things much worse.

      Remind yourself what Hillel said when the skeptic challenged him to explain Torah while standing on one leg. He stood on one leg and said do not do to others that which is distasteful to yourself.

      Please think about that.

  • dante

    the response is commendable but anyone connected with npr should not be surprised that npr attracts Jew-haters from the alt-right, from the Islamists, from the left, from the greens, & from all those who ally themselves with any of these.

    npr has a disgraceful record of bias against Israel. this record is summarized on the website of CAMERA. org

  • Well, frankly, I would have left every single ugly, hateful comment. People in the USA need to wake up to the hatred that has engulfed and will destroy it from the inside out.

    How can anyone do anything about it if people think it’s the fringe. Unfortunately, I don’t think it is anymore… as it seem to have become very mainstream.

    Once again, as over the past 2,000 years, the Jews are being used as scapegoats for the world’s problems. And Israel is used as the scapegoat by the neighboring and distant Muslim countries for all their problems.


  • Herb Grossman

    Surprising? In Boston, where, for a significant segment of the population, the first lesson in inter-religious relations is “the Jews killed Christ”? The more things change, the more they stay the same.

  • Don hanke

    No you don’t have good listeners. The recent comments prove that.
    Most of whom are leftists muslim apologists in your audience

  • stevenl

    Some at NPR don’t get it YET. It is a matter of time.

  • Paul Leber

    Why shut it down? It’s important to know who listens to NPR. Frankly, I’m not surprised, but it would be an eyeopener for those in the liberal Jewish community who claim anti-Semitism is no longer an issue

  • MH8169

    NPR as the leading liberal media “mouthpiece” has been guilty of creating and distributing stories that are unbalanced and at times incorrect. Many of their so called reporters present stories that appear factual but are then proven to be false. But the damage is done. Words hurt and journalism has lost its focus and its neutrality in reporting news.

  • brenrod

    I believe that leftists and muslims are pretending to be trump supporters and sending out the anti semitic memes in order to lose votes to trump. today it is the left, the muslims and blacks who display the most anti semitism.

  • enufizenuf

    The left with its penchant for idolizing and importing muslims and its utterly mindless hatred of Israel poses an infinitely greater threat to American Jews than does the idiotic bloviating of a handful pot-bellied tattooed sexually-frustrated far right loons.

  • brenrod

    this is the trend in europe and the US.. jews need to be careful and aware of where it is going. American Jews tend to be naive and inexperience with this phenomenon which led to the shoah. It certainly can, and very easily, happen in the USA.

  • jack

    The irony is that NPR has over the years contributed to the rise
    in anti-Semitism with its reporting on Israel.

  • arlene abrams

    What is also sad is that NPR is supported by federal funding………..duh! Do they have programs about the Jewish contributions to the world?

  • AKUS

    Given the consistent anti-Israeli bias of NPR I am not surprised that you have found out which type of listener you have succeeded in attracting.

  • Lia

    Sincere thanks to NPR.

  • The melanin deprived people are resorting to trolling as their numbers dwindle…

    The melanin deprived people are resorting to trolling as their numbers dwindle…