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December 19, 2016 2:08 pm

New York Times in Full-Fledged Frothing Freakout Frenzy Over Friedman Pick

avatar by Ira Stoll

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Attorney David Friedman, who has been chosen by President-elect Donald Trump to be the next US Ambassador to Israel. Photo: Kasowitz website.

David Friedman. Photo: Kasowitz website.

How freaked out is the New York Times over Donald Trump’s decision to nominate David Friedman as the American ambassador to Israel?

Extremely, to judge by the newspaper’s completely over-the-top coverage of the nomination.

The Times first covered the news of the nomination with a hostile article in Friday’s paper that the Algemeiner responded to that day.

Then the New York Times did something it reserves for the rarest of situations. It ran the same news again, this time on page one. Saturday’s paper piled on with a front page story headlined: “David Friedman, Choice for Envoy To Israel, Is Hostile to Two State Efforts.” That article was the product of a team of no less than eight — eight! — Times personnel, working from four different cities: “Isabel Kershner reported from Jerusalem, and Sheryl Gay Stolberg from Washington. Reporting was contributed by Russ Buettner and Maggie Haberman from New York, Sewell Chan from London, and Irit Pazner Garshowitz from Jerusalem. Jack Begg and Alain Delaquérière contributed research.”

And as if that weren’t enough, the paper piled on with a lead editorial in Saturday’s paper — “A Dangerous Choice for Ambassador to Israel” — and an op-ed article by Daniel C. Kurtzer, “Donald Trump’s Israel Ambassador Pick Is Hazardous to Peace.” The paper also ran an interactive online feature with highlights of Friedman’s past writing. (As is so often the case, the Times timed its worst anti-Jewish coverage for the Sabbath or Jewish holidays, making it harder for observant Jews to respond.)

There have been Supreme Court nominations — well, certainly cabinet secretary posts — that have attracted less extensive scrutiny from the New York Times than this mere ambassadorship to Israel.

So what is to account for all the Times frothing over Friedman?

The Times editorial complains that Friedman “has no diplomatic experience.” But President Obama has packed American embassies with campaign fundraisers, donors and political allies who have no diplomatic experience. A television soap opera producer was named by Obama as the American ambassador to Hungary. Caroline Kennedy was named by Obama to be ambassador to Japan. Other news organizations did report on this topic during the Obama years. “When Big Money Leads To Diplomatic Posts” was the headline of a National Public Radio piece. “US diplomats cry foul as Obama donors take over top embassy jobs,” was the headline of a Guardian article reporting that Obama had named a campaign fundraiser as ambassador to Great Britain. “Obama hands out plum ambassador posts to big campaign donors” was the headline of an article in The Hill.

If you can’t quite remember the New York Times editorials denouncing those dozens of ambassadorial nominations by President Obama, that’s because there were no such editorials, at least none that I could find in scouring the archives. It’s only in Israel — not Japan, Hungary or Great Britain — that the Times insists on previous diplomatic experience as a requirement for national service. Only Israel, and only the Trump administration. It’s almost enough to make one suspect that the newspaper’s objection to Friedman isn’t about his lack of prior diplomatic experience at all, but about something else.

Perhaps the newspaper is upset about Friedman’s supposed suggestion that Israel’s critics aren’t actually Jewish. Yet the newspaper has yet to produce a transcript or a tape of Friedman making that claim. At the Washington Free Beacon, Noah Pollak aptly called the Times news article “a caricature of political frustration and resentment masquerading as news.” On Twitter, the author of the day-one Times story, Matthew Rosenberg, eventually dialed back his claim, writing, “alright, to clarify: earlier tweet should have said that Friedman has said SOME Jews who support 2-state solution are not Jewish.”

Another person who grasps what the Times is up to is Elliott Abrams, a foreign policy hand with extensive experience at the National Security Council and the State Department. Abrams writes on his blog at the Council on Foreign Relations that the Times “poison-pen” editorial writers “would prefer a fellow at a white-shoe Wall Street firm whose father or grandfather had been a diplomat, who belonged to the right clubs.” Precisely.

The Times, even with eight reporters devoted to the task, still can’t manage to grasp basic facts about Judaism. It writes of Friedman, “He and his wife are renowned for gathering people for dinners in their sukkah, a hut observant Jews build on their balconies during a fall harvest festival.” Yet a sukkah needn’t be on a balcony; it can be on a patio, or a backyard, or a rooftop, or a deck. The Times definition is inaccurate.

The second-day Times news article includes this passage:

Mr. Netanyahu did not respond to Mr. Friedman’s selection, nor did Israel’s Foreign Ministry.

But the deputy foreign minister, Tzipi Hotovely, who hails from the right flank of Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud Party, rushed to praise it, saying, “His positions reflect the desire to strengthen the standing of Israel’s capital Jerusalem at this time and to underscore that the settlements have never been the true problem in the area.”

It’s not accurate that Israel’s Foreign Ministry didn’t respond to Friedman’s section. Israel’s consul general in New York, Dani Dayan, tweeted, “I can assure Americans that any Ambassador you designate will be most welcome in Israel. Amb-des Friedman is no exception.” Dayan also congratulated Friedman, saying, “I am sure he will be an exceptional envoy of his country to mine.”

The Times is in a panic over Friedman’s views of the Middle East. But for all the paper’s fuss, ambassadors rarely if ever make policy. Friedman isn’t being chosen for the job of secretary of state or national security adviser —  or even special Middle East coordinator. His job as ambassador would be to represent and counsel the president and the secretary of state, not to set the policy.

Yet the Times doesn’t seem willing to provide its readers with grounded, realistic perspective on this. It prefers, instead, to fuel the anti-Trump panic prevalent among its urban, liberal readers. That’s not independent journalism. It’s just a left-wing echo chamber.

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

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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  • Rick Caird

    I suspect it is less about Friedman and Israel than it is about a chance to complain about Trump. The NYT has now progressed to full on deranged. They need an intervention and long term treatment.

  • frankiec_2005

    Time for a change.

    Kowtowing to the Palestinians has improved Palestinian behavior not one bit.

    Now is the time to place the onus on those who promote hate–the Palestinians–professional hate-mongers, 24/7.

    They should learn from the Jews–shake yourself off, build, create, contribute, make peace.

  • c0mm0ncenz

    NYT – All the lies that are unfit to print.

  • RockyS2

    Sorry I am coming in late to this discussion. Mr. Joseph Feld comment piped my interest to follow him here on these topics. What is important to me is that Mr. Trump’s appointment of Mr. David Friedman is a fresh start to clear up the mess made by our anti-Israel state department and Israel’s interests. Israel is hampered to act decisively and pointedly about many things including land use. Given Mr. Friedman’s actual actions to help ease settlement problems, the promise will be to begin a dialogue with Palestinians where they will know if they don’t make better and more negotiable decisions their opportunities to continue as they have been doing will cease to be viable.
    The NYTimes is just another mouthpiece for the left and the Democratic party. It’s story lines mirror the ongoing needs of Democrats. Their opinions are a reflection of what is the current issue for Democrats. If the news doesn’t revolve around a Democratic talking point, it is not news to them.

  • Arundo Donax

    The Times’ coverage feels a little like what The Times these days is calling fake news.

  • Thucydides_of_Athens

    Walter Duranty’s newspaper, right?

  • The Oatmeal Savage

    If the traitors at the NYT hate it…..

  • KlugerRD

    Since Israel’s indepedence The New York Times has been openly anti-Israel.

  • Strelnikov

    Change that “over” to “from” and you are in business…

  • Martin Johnson

    “…would prefer a fellow … whose father or grandfather had been a diplomat, who belonged to the right clubs.”

    Kim Philby would have fit the Times’ standards quite nicely.

  • dave72

    No happy liberals at the Times. No happy liberals anywhere. Ever.

  • mlmontagne

    You don’t understand. Trump is an anti-Semite, so if he nominates an ambassador to Israel who is a strong supporter of that country’s right to defend itself, live in peace and security, and establish its capital where it wishes in its own territory, then that means, well, it means . . .it means . . . oh, SHUT UP.

  • VoteOutIncumbents

    The NY Times have absolutely lost their collective minds. They’ve gone nuts.

  • David Skurnick

    Friedman is pro-Israel. The Times is anti-Israel.

  • Belial Issimo

    The NYT re Jews: they [the ‘observant’ ones, anyway] build huts for their harvest festival. Sneer.

    The NYT re Indians:

    instead of winding up on the losing end, the tribe enjoyed a welcome reversal of fortune in its long struggle to protect its sacred grounds. With Blackfeet leaders in ceremonial headdress, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell canceled 15 energy exploration leases in the Badger-Two Medicine Area along the majestic Rocky Mountain Front, halting the feared desecration of lands at the heart of the tribe’s creation story.

  • Rich K

    All you east coasters still, to this day, give the Fishwrap called the NYTs way to much credit as a go to source for Real News about ,well, pretty much anything where truth is required.

  • Nicolas Versteher

    Use the NYTimes to rate Trump picks. The more they hate it, the better it is.

  • Alexander Rawls

    “A danger to peace.” Gotta know what NYT means by “peace.” They mean “peace, religion of.”

  • Avinatan52

    The formerly Jewish Sulzberger family did all it could to bury the Shoah. Nuff said.

  • Holy Shirt

    Using the pages of the New York Times to wrap Rebbetzin Schneerson’s gefilte fish would instantly render it treif.

    • lightray9a

      Trust me, the NY Times is better suited for something other than wrapping fish. It’s kind of rough, though. 😉

  • walter77777

    Many liberal Jews are unhappy about the Friedman pick. The one-state solution is not really a solution. It will result in more suicide attacks, and it will burden Israel with heavy security expenses. It will also give militant and jihadist groups in the Muslim world excuses to attack Israeli and other Jewish interests throughout the world.

    • robcrawford2

      The Muslims will kill Jews whether Israel exists or not.

    • m a

      They need an excuse? Isn’t that already happening?

    • SgtFraggleRock

      Sooo…no different than the “two-state” solution?

    • Fred (deplorable hacker)Trout

      Any solution is a solution if it results in peace, not that that result is at all likely.

      Further, Israel’s enemies need no additional excuses for their hostility; all of the old ones are more than adequate.

    • InklingBooks

      Having observed how the Palestinian leadership has stonewalled practical, two-state solutions time and again, I suspect the only thing that will get them to agree to the split would be the possiblity that the one-state Israel solution might be imposed. Keep in mind that, lurking in the shadows, a one-state solution has long been a goal of many Palestinians. It’s a single state over all the land but virtually devoid of Jews.

      Also, U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital could aid rather than hinder negotiations. Without it, that recognition could be a serious stumbling block. With it as a fact, only the location of Palestine’s capital becomes an issue. Should it be in an East Jerusalem shorn off from Israel? That’d be a tragedy for tourists and many Jerusalem citizens. Should it be in some other city in the West Bank? Few have the same appeal as Jerusalem. The debate over where an independent Palestine will have its capital will be hard enough to handle. It’s best taken up with the debate of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital established.

    • johnnybegoode65

      Bill Clinton and Ehud Barak tried to give the Palestinians what they said they wanted, but they turned it down. Nothing will satisfy them, other than wiping Israel out. Then they would move on to some other target.

    • Scott Anderson

      Gosh, it’s a good thing that none of this is true now.

    • Jake21

      “It will also give militant and jihadist groups in the Muslim world excuses to attack Israeli and other Jewish interests throughout the world.”

      Right. Because they need reasons.

    • Snidely Whiplash

      Ummm…do they really need any excuse for any of the barbarism they so seem to embrace?

    • PubliusII

      Funny — if you were right, I’d expect the majority of Israelis to be very worked up about this appointment, which they aren’t. Maybe they see their neighborhood and its future differently than you do.

    • allen reishtein

      Terrorist groups already attack Israel, without Mr. Friedman being on board.

    • zvi gross

      Most liberal Jews care more about Barak Hussein then about Israel, or the daily prayers in the synagogue of their faith.
      So why should we care what they think about Israel? Ambassador Friedman described these Jews quite aptly.

    • Jacqueline Burns

      Many liberal Jews are unhappy about the existence of Israel, full stop. Any second (after Jordan, the original Arab state illegally carved out of the British Mandate) so-called Palestinian state will also result in more suicide attacks & burden Israel with heavy security expenses since such a State will fund such attacks in the same way Hamas has since Israel withdrew from Gaza. As to militant & jihadist groups NEEDING excuses to attack Israeli &/or Jewish interest….what planet are you living on? The fact that Israel &/or Jews exist is all the excuse they need.

  • hoptoit27

    Personally I think we would do well to ignore the N.Y. Times. My impression is that they will not be around much longer.

    • Michael Lumish

      One can hope.

  • Holy Shirt

    Needing eight staffers (four of whose surnames suggest Tribal origin) to delegitimize our next Ambassador to Israel (if you look at the Big Picture) says Steve Allen was onto something real when he authored “DUMBTH.” Having morphed into a “stolen Borg” (read 8-of-69). Remember “7 of 9?” “Picard with jeweler’s loupe?” and “Doodoo-skinned Commander Data?” If The Algemeiner is going to cite its Managing Editor’s family as a source, doesn’t the Obama Fairness Doctrine require it to similarly cite the Brain of AccuWeather? Does the Times’ difficulty understanding the Jewish custom of sukkah result from all the crack it smoked in its hookah? Finally, does the “writer’s headline frustratedly opine “F___ the New York Times!” ?? William Gaines parodied the New York Times’ motto as: “All the News that Fits we Print!” Were he alive today, he would rename the New York Times “Star Dreck”

    • Thucydides_of_Athens

      The NYT is vacating 8 floors of its office tower, one per fake journalist. Seems fitting.

  • Cornville

    It is unfortunate, as the New York Times used to be a great paper. The only use for the New York Times is to line your cat’s box with it.

    • Robert JF

      Maybe your cat. My cat took a look at it and decided to go elsewhere. 😀

  • Mike E

    Self-loathing leftist Jews in collaboration with the anti-Semitic left. Can it be more despicable?

  • Efram Paul

    I take issue with saying the Times is issuing news reports. It has long since ceased printing news where the middle east is concerned. It is a typical, Stalinist left-wing sycophantic rag, whose purposes are duel, first to denigrate Israel, every day, no matter if they have to literally make the issue up, and to insult Jews and snicker at Jewish practices, when practices of other religions, such as radical Islam, are far less reasonable than those of Jews. Like so much of the hard left, it has been many years since the Times has offered anything approximating news, but only advocating and cheering terrorists while denigrating Israel.

  • Joseph Feld

    Some things never seem to change — The NY Times attitude to Jews, Israel and Judaism, and the double standard in covering these topics.

  • Avi Leiman

    The NYT is known as an anti-Israel and thinks it has the right to object to the views of the new ambassador. It doesn”t matter. The real problem for the NYT is the inauguration of Donald Trump and all of his appointees. Their opinion is of no importance and is meaningless since they are “politically correct..” Donald Trump is not politically correct and won the suuport of the American people. Too bad the NYT doesn’t realize their time is over. The Nation rejects them and their opinions. That is why they have significant financial problems. The handwriting is on the wall.

    • mlmontagne

      Well, in all fairness, Trump lost the support of the American people by close to three million votes, but he’s got four years to make that up.

  • Peter Joffe

    Please do not quote the NYT and please do ot read or subscribe it. The NYT wants to Keep America Bad. What a rotten news rag inspired by rotten Democrats?

  • RiverKing

    LOL at that beautiful headline! 😊

  • watsa46

    The US Pravda fails to indicate that the Palestinians are for one Palestinian state with NO JEWS!
    The fate of the US Pravda is sealed. It is only a matter of time!

  • Wayne Scott

    Awesome choice by President Trump. Grown ups in charge now!

  • David Friedman, Esq. is a great pick for the next American ambassador to Israel because he has wisdom to be an effective diplomat. And hopefully, he will become the first U.S. ambassador to work in the new American embassy in Jerusalem, Israel.

  • montlasky

    Trump will send them “a left hook” sooner or later.
    The NY is even more anti Israel than Haaretz!

  • CarolAnnD

    That’s right. That’s all that the NYT is: a Left-wing rag echo chamber with a lot of Arab influence. And the NYT has lived down to that level very well. Sorry we don’t have videos showing them freaking out, as we deserve some entertainment for a change instead of the constant garbage they shovel our way and expect us to consume.

  • zvi gross

    The NYT wretched editors mascerading their partisan opinions as worthy news.
    Yellow journalism indeed.

  • Brooklyn Ave.

    Why the H**l is it any business of the palestinian leaning N.Y. Times that Friedman is very Pro Israel????
    If he was anti-Israel or anti-Semitic, which is the way the Times usually comes across, then there would be a newsworthy story there!!!

  • sheldon hersh

    If David Friedman had been selected for the very same post by Hilary Clinton, the New York Times would have extolled Mr. Friedman’s virtues while praising Ms. Clinton for her insight and sagacity.

  • Doug Brown

    Friedman is absolutely perfect. The hostility exhibited by the NYT is what one might expect from sore losers. I’m delighted.

    • Snidely Whiplash

      Moreover you can tell Friedman is a perfect choice _because_ the NYT is against him. These days it’s almost better to be known by who your enemies are than your friends.