More Ethics Notes On The New York Times Anti-Semitic Cartoon

  • The main lesson of this episode (which was discussed here in the fourth item) is that the New York Times culture is so ideologically and politically biased and one-sided that even an obvious breach of taste, decency and ethics like this cartoon can slip by the deadened ethics alarms.

The American Jewish Committee said in response to The Times’s editors’ note after pulling the drawing,. “What does this say about your processes or your decision makers? How are you fixing it?”

The Times can’t fix it.

  • One Times columnist, the politically schizophrenic Bret Stephens, wrote that “in another age, might have been published in the pages of Der Stürmer,” the infamous anti-Semitic tabloid published during Germany’s Nazi regime. “The problem with the cartoon isn’t that its publication was a willful act of anti-Semitism. It wasn’t.” Stephens continued.

“The problem is that its publication was an astonishing act of ignorance of anti-Semitism …. at a publication that is otherwise hyper-alert to nearly every conceivable expression of prejudice, from mansplaining to racial microaggressions to transphobia.”

  • I admit to being surprised that at least one veteran commenter on Ethics Alarms professed to see no anti-Semitism on display. Isn’t portraying any Jew, especially the leader of Israel, who may thus symbolize all Jews, as a dog per se ethnic denigration? Note that the Netanyahu dog is wearing a Star of David. The slur “Jewish dog” appeared in many Nazi publications, and, as one astute commenter elsewhere noted, the reason the dog chosen was a dachshund was probably that an undignified, low-to-the-ground canine “slithering” along made the insult clear.

No insult to dachshunds intended: they are actually courageous, feisty little dogs who happen to look silly.

The cartoon was drawn by the Portuguese cartoonist António Moreira Antunes and originally published by Expresso, a newspaper in Lisbon. It was then picked up by CartoonArts International, a syndicate for cartoons from around the world. The New York Times Licensing Group sells content from CartoonArts and other publishers along with material from The New York Times to news sites and other customers….The Times’s United States edition does not typically publish political cartoons and did not run this one, but the international edition frequently includes them. An editor from The Times’s Opinion section downloaded Mr. Antunes’s cartoon from the syndicate and made the decision to publish it…

  • The Times now says that the decision was made by a single editor, “working without adequate oversight” because of a “faulty process” that is now being reviewed.

Nope, I don’t believe it. This is the same “rogue employee” excuse and cover that I have seen many times when organizations make serious mistakes, notably when the Obama IRS scandal came to light. It was not the IRS, we were first told, just a single “rogue” agent in the Cincinnati office that managed to cripple conservative non-profits before the 2012 election. No doubt a single editor will be made the official scapegoat, but I seriously doubt such a cartoon could have been published without widespread ethics blindness by many Times employees.

  • Here was the original Times statement, which I published in the post yesterday:

As I noted, there is no apology here, just an admission that ‘mistakes were made.’ I wrote, “There is no apology in sight, nor a clear statement that the cartoon was unfair and untrue. ” Sure enough, the Times has issued a new, improved statement:

There’s that rogue editor again. Still, at least this is an apology. Stephens wrote that the Times owed Netanyahu an apology. My basic rule is that do-over apologies are PR rescue operations, and should be regarded in that light. If a wrong-doer can’t explain what was wrong and why he or she should be forgiven the first time, I take that to mean that they are primarily sorry that they got in trouble.


23 thoughts on “More Ethics Notes On The New York Times Anti-Semitic Cartoon

  1. I keep reading in their statements about how this was done in the international version…as if that’s an excuse.

    Apparently, the NYT is only sorry that American audiences found out that the venerable paper is perfectly okay with presenting itself as anti-semitic to the outside world, where antagonism to Israel is more pronounced and open than it is here. Should we be bothered by that?

    • Or are they clarifying for confused US print readers who didn’t see the cartoon, and may think the story is fake news published against the Times?

  2. I’m confused. Is Donald Trump a Jew or a NAZI? Hitler actually sported a yarmulke? I guess the moral of the story is you can call Trump anything derogatory, logic or consistency be damned.

  3. It is really more that Netanyahu has got Trump as his cachorro (puppy in Spanish, more or less ‘lap dog’).

    “The problem is that its publication was an astonishing act of ignorance of anti-Semitism …. at a publication that is otherwise hyper-alert to nearly every conceivable expression of prejudice, from mansplaining to racial micro-aggressions to transphobia.”

    Right, so there’s a good starting point: get rid of all of that insane politically correct garbage. And, after doing that in respect to Israel, actually begin to have real conversations — to allow open and genuine conversation — on the ridiculous amount of power Israel has over American policy. Examine the connections between powerful Jews and the organizations they run and control in America, and the policies in the Middle East.

    A bridge too far? Oh well . . . it was just an idea!

    • No, the dog’s harness and the glasses on Trump show the dog is meant to be a seeing-eye dog leading Trump around. Dauschunds being far too small for that duty is a bonus slam at both leaders.

      (Dog lover’s addition: Our rescued Dauschunds is a fierce defender who loudly warns all human arrivals at the house and keeps the Great Dane in line. The Dane will not go outside without the Dauschunds’s company. Service people have run away on hearing the insistent barking and seeing the big dog.)

    • Ok, tell us about the “ridiculous amount of power Israel has over US foreign policy.”

      We already know that Israel is our biggest political and ideological ally in the Middle East, but I’m sure you can pull the curtain back on some nefarious influence those shifty Joos have on our government that goes beyond what would be expected in light of that.

      • Make that your research project. I’ll ‘tell you’ nothing and only suggest that you make it your ethics project. But I would suggest that you start with the Israeli critics of Israeli policy and what the Israeli critics have to say about the abnormal influence of American Jews have in Israeli affairs. That way, you would not have to use the word Joos. You would only have to write Israeli critics. 😉

      • While I do not ‘agree’, I guess I should say, with everything he says, I certainly do pay close attention to what he says and thinks. Worthwhile to consider the Israeli dissident position. It’s up to you what you do with the information.

      • Telling someone to go do research so you can avoid defending your position seems rather idiotic. For those of us reading the exchange it suggests you cannot establish evidence to support your original statement that was challenged.

        How does Israel have so much power over US policy when you state the critics are complaining of American Jews influencing Israeli policy. You cannot say that Israel drives our policy by using Americans.

  4. The “Rogue Employee” excuse is okay, if it’s actually a rogue employee; but that’s not this situation, though they are trying to say it is. To make the “rogue employee” argument, you have to show how the employee violated policy, training, and controls to accomplish their goal that did not align with the goals of the organization. I see no evidence that NYT provided this employee with training, or had policies forbidding this employee from making this decision. In fact, NYT authorized this employee to make decisions without controls in the absence of policy and training…. and this was the result. Their system worked as designed and they got caught with their pants down.

    Laughably they conclude: “We anticipate significant changes.” No you dunces. WE anticipate (foolishly) significant changes. YOU need to COMMIT TO IMPLEMENTING significant changes.

    • Baron and Budd, the law firm, tried the “rogue paralegal” excuse once to explain giving out a pamphlet to clients in a mass tort case telling them how to answer questions verbatim.

      That term is always good for a big laugh in my seminars.

      • Exactly. The only time an organization should use the “Rogue Employee” bit is when they truly believe they did everything they could as an organization and are stating unequivocally that there are no (perhaps “reasonable”) enhancements to make to their program.

        Only then is the employee truly “rogue”. At the end of the day, every organization is at the mercy of its employees doing illegal things in the name of the organization – because individuals have free will.

        Your Honor, we provided this employee training for 5 years straight, Compliance Training, Ethics Training, Policy Training, we even sent him to seminars and lectures and provided him with access to online content. We staffed an Ethics Office and a Compliance Department and had reasonable controls designed to prevent this behavior. Controls rooted in 2 policies and supported by our organization’s Tone at the Top, which include many public and organizational statements by many members of our executive team.
        In this specific instance, he actively thwarted 3 active controls that would have prevented this activity and those controls were audited internally annually for effectiveness. Obviously this failure is embarrassing to our organization, but without robotic automation of his position, we really can’t do any more – he truly is a “rogue employee”.

  5. I think the Der Stürmer reference is very appropriate. When will American Jews acknowledge that Republicans aren’t the boogie man anymore and start voting more conservatively. The NYT and the Democratic Party tolerate anti-semitism in their calculated outreach for diversity.

  6. “The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.” Malcolm X

    That quote is the basis for the left wing propaganda machine aka the media.

    I’ve been saying and I’ll continue saying it, the far left wing hive mind propaganda machine, aka the media, doesn’t give a damn what they print as long as it contains direct and indirect propaganda insults towards President Trump, his perceived “friends” and anyone that they think supports him. They don’t give a damn if they have to apologize for anything as long as the propaganda smears are disseminated to the public, after all, the emotions ginned up by the smears will linger far, Far, FAR beyond any retraction or apology and that is what they. It doesn’t matter how often this immoral left wing propaganda media lies, misrepresents or spews out their hateful propaganda, people keep on giving them money via their subscriptions and watching them on TV. Today’s political left driven propaganda machine, aka the media, IS an enemy to the psyche of the people of the United States of America and they are damn proud of their immoral influence on the masses – in fact they count on their extremism to sucker people into giving them money one way or another.

    At this point in time the only thing I see the public can do to change the behavior of the propaganda media is to literally starve it to death by completely eliminating any of your dollars to fund such immoral media outlets. Stop your subscriptions, don’t support companies that advertise in the media sources that are spewing immoral propaganda, send emails to your TV providers that you want these media outlets like CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, MSNBC, etc, etc removed from their channel lineups and cease to watch them. Stop clicking on things that take you to their websites. There is a whole world out there beyond the TV screen!

    This of course would be impossible for someone like Jack that actually searches for unethical things to write and talk about and these propaganda media outlets are regular purveyors of the unethical behaviors that Jack searches.

    Am I nucking futs?


  7. Speaking of Democratic, well, anything at this point, CNN ran an article talking about the NRA and New York’s AG investigating it.

    Article here:

    Now, it doesn’t seem like the AG has any evidence of NRA violating its non-profit status. I would say that should make this investigation illegal, but Muller Report. Not once in the article did they mention that there is any evidence of wrongdoing. Just more of the same 2012 IRS scandal, given the types of comments the article quotes.

    These people are determined to destroy American institutions. I’m certain it’s ethically indefensible to attack an institution like this just because you disagree with its policies. However, was the President entering into the fight defensible? His comments definitely frame it as good NRA vs evil NY AG. But I do enjoy his call for unity in the face of adversity.

  8. The Times “anticipates significant changes”? That line alone is an admission of a “significant” problem, is it not? And of course, nothing makes adults madder than being told en masse they must undergo the Western version of Re-education Camp. Anger (and implied shame) that has no outlet creates stubborn resistance that only sharpens the bias and deepens any prejudice.

  9. The ‘rogue employee’ excuse is probably never true. In 2008 Societe Generale in France lost ~$5 billion due to a ‘rogue trader’. In 2001, the UBS bank scandal was a $2 billion trading loss blamed on one ‘rogue trader’. In both cases, the ‘rogue’ trader was the either the or close to the most junior trader in the company. In the Societe Generale case, they claim this newbie in the company was making trades of over $50 billion himself, without oversight from anyone. Who thinks the largest banks in the world just turn over the keys to the bank to the new guy and let them do whatever with no oversight or supervision. Their computer lets them put in trades worth more than the total worth of the bank without any extra authorization required or flags sent to administrators?

    Yeah, those incidents were just as likely as the NYT ‘rogue’ editor.

    As far as Bret Stephens goes, well, this is just a ridiculous quote.
    “The problem is that its publication was an astonishing act of ignorance of anti-Semitism …. at a publication that is otherwise hyper-alert to nearly every conceivable expression of prejudice, from mansplaining to racial microaggressions to transphobia.”

    The ignorance is the Times’ ignorance that it is anti-Semitic.

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