Monday, December 6th | 2 Tevet 5782

August 22, 2016 11:46 am

The New York Times Is Too Busy Ogling ‘Bikini Moms’ to Bother With the Crown Heights Pogrom

avatar by Ira Stoll

A young Jewish boy and his father after being beaten by a black mob in the 1991 Crown Heights riots.

A Jewish boy and his father, beaten by a black mob in the 1991 Crown Heights riots. Photo: Wikipedia.

It’s starting to look like a pattern: the Times post-Holocaust Holocaust obsession is crowding other Jewish-related news out of the newspaper.

Since we last remarked upon this problem with the Times earlier this month, the newspaper has piled on with even more coverage of World War II and its aftermath, while neglecting or ignoring contemporary news.

Astonishingly, the Times has provided no coverage at all in its print pages, at least so far as I can tell, of the 25th anniversary of the Crown Heights riot. This is a stunning lapse that puts the Times far behind its competitors. The Wall Street Journal had a story. The Daily News had a column. The New York Post had a column by Seth Lipsky. The New York Times, by sharp contrast, had nothing at all in print; online it ran a couple of dispatches provided by the Associated Press news wire. Meanwhile, a Times metro staff reporter who might have otherwise been free to cover the Crown Heights story was instead busy at a beach club. In the fifth installment of an ongoing series, he was reporting breathlessly on “topless sunbathers,” and ogling at what the newspaper describes as “striking” “bikini moms,” women that other viewers might simply find leathery.

Had the Times bothered to cover the Crown Heights anniversary, it might have had to confront its own failure back at the time, a journalistic travesty memorably described firsthand by Times veteran Ari Goldman in a 2011 Jewish Week article headlined “Telling It Like It Wasn’t.”

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Nor was the Crown Heights anniversary the only big Jewish news the Times missed. Remember Avigdor Lieberman, the defense minister whose appointment by Prime Minister Netanyahu whipped the New York Times into a frenzy of panicked opposition to this “extremist” and “far-right” personality? As Mosaic (an online publication edited by the shrewd Neal Kozodoy) and David Makovsky of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy both noticed and reported, Lieberman’s “first major initiative regarding the West Bank has been to expand the access of Palestinians living in Areas A and B (under, respectively, complete and partial Palestinian Authority control) to economic opportunities in Area C, which remains under direct Israeli control.”

In other words, the Times put a lot of effort into hyping up fear about Lieberman’s supposed extremism. But when Lieberman makes the Times look foolish by acting to make life better for West Bank Palestinian Arabs and contradicting the Times’ dire predictions, the Times ignores it.

While ignoring the Crown Heights anniversary and the Lieberman initiative, the Times has been busy indulging its after-the-fact obsession with the Holocaust, documenting even the most incremental developments at length. The past few days of the Times have included:

  • A 1,300 word article by a child of Holocaust survivors who claimed “I grew up hearing other American Jews speak of Palestinians in pre-genocidal ways.”
  • An 800-word dispatch from Poland under the headline “Nazi Gold Train May Not Exist, but That Doesn’t Stop Diggers.”
  • A 600-word story from Berlin headlined “Auschwitz Survivors, in Their 90s, Urge Germany to Act on War Crimes Case.”
  • An 800-word antiques column about a Polish-Jewish artist last heard from in a postcard sent from “Majdanek, a concentration camp near Lublin, Poland.”
  • A 450-word review of a German-language movie about “Bauer, a German Jew, serving as an attorney general in West Germany in 1957. Part of his work is to track down former Nazi officials, and he’s increasingly thwarted by superiors and underlings who are still sympathetic to the Third Reich.”

Was it all this post-Holocaust Holocaust coverage that meant there wasn’t room in the Times to remember the Crown Heights riot or to report on Avigdor Lieberman’s initiative? Or was it the five-part series on the beach club including the “bikini moms” who the Times reporter finds “glamorous”? No one can say for sure, but it is certainly a disappointment to anyone relying on the Times for accurate or comprehensive coverage of today’s Jewish story.

More of Ira Stoll’s media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.  

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