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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Ezra Klein Smears Ann Althouse

Ezra Klein, blogger for the "liberal" American Prospect, got caught by Politico coordinating his stories with other liberal bloggers and journalists. Exposed for being a journalistic fraud, Klein needed an enemy. He found Ann Althouse. Althouse, who has a very popular blog, could be considered "conservative" (as in, when a law professor doesn't kneel at the alter of Obama, she is a "conservative").

Althouse's crime? She linked to the Politico story in a post at 8:54 a.m. on March 19, 2009 under the title "The Journolist." Althouse's blog gets tons of comments, unlike mine, which only gets a lot of comments when there is an Instalanche. Apparently, some of the comments were hostile to Klein, so Klein decided to take out Althouse by smearing her as an anti-Semite.

No, Klein didn't say that "Ann Althouse is an anti-Semite." The obvious weasel that he is, Klein did it indirectly under a post at 1:50 p.m. on March 20, 2009, titled "Are Ann Althouse's Commenters Anti-Semites?" Klein did a simultaneous Tweet with the same title. [Correction 3/21, 3:50 p.m.: The sequence was Klein tweets, Althouse objects, Klein posts the full post.]

This is how the left does it. When you can't find racist/sexist/anti-Semitic/homophobic comments by a conservative, you impugn their reputation by finding some lunatic in a crowd (or in blog comments) who did make such a comment.

Remember the hoax that someone at a McCain rally supposedly shouted "Kill Obama"? The left-wing smear machine (read, mainstream media) seized on that apparently fictitious comment to smear John McCain supporters as violent racists. The claim turned out not to be true, but no matter, the race card had been played (as it was throughout the Obama campaign).

Now Klein plays the "anti-Semite" card against Althouse by using anonymous blog comments against her. Who placed the anti-Semitic blog comments? Was it Klein himself acting under a pseudonym? I have no evidence of that, but how about if I ran a post titled "Did Ezra Klein post anti-Semitic comments to set up Ann Althouse?"

Klein, who is internet savvy, knew what his headline would do. Do a search for Ann Althouse on Google now, and you turn up blog posts concerning the anti-semitism. Forget her scholarship, teaching, popular blog. No, Klein has succeeded in making the discussion about Althouse about anti-semitism.

Althouse has demanded an apology, which Klein used as an excuse for more attacks on Althouse. This is the dilemma people face when dealing with people like Klein. Perpetuate the back-and-forth, and you have guaranteed an even greater chain of Google links.

Klein's attack on Althouse was grossly unfair. One of the problems with allowing open commentary on a blog and not screening for content is that one opens oneself up to these sort of attacks. Maybe the comments at issue were real, maybe they were not. But that is beside the point. The point is that Ezra Klein dug deep into his smear-merchant bag of tricks by going after Althouse in this way.

Great job Ezra. I hope that you coordinated your attack with your fellow Journolistas.

UPDATE: I think I missed a point here. Not only did Klein smear Althouse, he did so by misrepresenting the nature of the "anti-Semitic" comments. Were the comments cited by Klein really anti-Semitic, or Jewish commenters' attempts at humor?

The comment by the anonymous "Jdeeripper" cited by Klein lists names of Jewish members of Klein's Journolist, with the comment that the Journolist: "Looks like more of a White Jewish male liberal conspiracy to me.... Gotta love the Jewish ethnocentrism and liberal 'progressive' self deception among so called liberals. Not big fans of 'diversity' when applied to themselves." Nothing anti-Semitic so far. A sad, but true, commentary on the liberal establishment.

The give-away that "Jdeeripper" probably is Jewish is this line: "There were two women in the article, Eve Fairbanks and Lisa Lerer. Two male goyim Mike Allen, Ben Smith and one other Jewish male who is not a conservative Michael Goldfarb." The term "goyim" is a term used by Jews to refer to non-Jews. Now that isn't proof of the writer's religion since the term is widely known, but it does suggest to me that this is not an anti-Semitic post, but an attempt to point out the hypocrisy of the left-wing establishment which holds up one diversity standard for the rest of the world, while not honoring the standard themselves.

Sarcasm, yes. Anti-Semitism, no.

The other comment cited by Klein has to do with a series of comments by apparently Jewish commenter "Maxine Weiss" regarding Klein's heritage in California and his appearance. Here's part of Weiss' offending string of comments:

Wouldn't it be absolutely hysterical if an unusually dark-skinned Abel Klein was originally Abel Gomez etc... And simply changed his name converted to Judiaism, and got the very white, off-beat, and full-lipped Jacqueline to marry him. It certainly would explain a few things. As I say, I'm probably wrong though.
Again, nothing overtly anti-Semitic; looks more like a tongue-in-cheek mocking of Klein (who can mock, but can't take being mocked). Weiss has a blog, and while it's not clear if that is her real name, she's hardly fully anonymous. Weiss' attempt at humor may fall flat, but it clearly was an attempt at humor.

So Klein really has pulled off a coup here. The thin-skinned Klein, who can dish it out but can't take it, took comments mocking him by anonymous apparently Jewish commenters, twisted them into false accusations of anti-Semitism, then used them to smear Ann Althouse.

What a sleaze. But then again, Klein is the head Journolista.
UPDATE No. 2: Here's what others are saying:

Shreveport - "Klein has effectively smeared Althouse by his twisting of the issue. At the very least he should be exposed for the juvenile "journalistic" tactics he has used. As bloggers we are all subject to this kind of snarky, smarmy smear tactic."

American Power - "Ann is usually pretty restrained regarding flame wars, but I LOVE IT when she call these folks out."

Typical Klein Commenter - "I wouldn't apologize to Ann Althouse if I accidently ran her over, but only because I'd be afraid she'd find out my name. I'd high tail it out of there immediately." I guess that leads to the blog post title:

Are Ezra Klein's Commenters Road Rage Maniacs?
UPDATE No. 3: Here's what someone who claims to be wise said about people who attack other people on the blogosphere instead of engaging in substantive debate (the names have been changed to reflect the current reality):

Eventually, inevitably, people like [Ezra Klein] get scared, or beat, or defensive, and they fall back on what's easiest: Trying to discredit, rather than debate. It's the first refuge of the scoundrel, and that's what [Klein] proved [him]self. [H]e's not only brought dishonor on h[is] own reputation, []he took what should've been a proud day for bloggers and the blogosphere and irreparably marred it for those involved, [Ann Althouse] in particular. [H]e sank low, hit hard, and smeared cruelly. That's not what this medium is supposed to be about. [Klein] should be ashamed.
UPDATE No. 4: The always strong American Power has some more on this: Ezra Klein Does Not Deserve to Be Treated Fairly:
Klein's attack on Althouse is pure "faux" outrage. The guy was raised Jewish but has confessed his agnosticism, and he apparently "hates" anything having to do with organizes religion.
And Protein Wisdom chimes in:

It’s mourning in America, people. And Ezra Klein is tweeting his way to Vichy commander.

How proud his parents must be!

See related Posts: Liberal Ugliness Revealed On The JournoList; The JournoList Should Be Called The PlagiarList, Release ALL The E-Mails, Ezra, My First Tweet: The JournoList Sure Has A Lot Of Anti-Semitic Commenters,


  1. I agree Klein's attack on Ann Althouse is sleazy. I've read her blog for a long time and have observed very little anti-semitism in the comments. The little that appears gets well spanked by other commenters.

    I've read much more and much worse at HuffPo and DKos, among others. Anti-semitism in the popular blogosphere seems to be more comfortably rooted in lefty blogs.

    My judgement is that Ann is a moderately liberal Democrat, not a conservative. She is however more conservative than today's modern leftist model.

    She voted for Obama.

  2. You could be right on her political leanings, but she clearly is not part of the cheering crowd. A lot of "moderates" voted for Obama, but in the eyes of people like Klein, anyone who is not fully with them is against them.

  3. I thought Althouse is pure academic. She was presented to me as a conservative, but it became clear to me that she was Obama all the way. I stopped reading her about the same time I figured Andi Sullivan and The Atlantic Monthly out.

  4. I really think you are missing another point. It does not matter whether a posting was written by someone Jewish or not. Antisemitism is antisemitism whether it is written by a non-Jew or a Jew. Suggest you read some of the "writings" of the 1950's antisemite Benjamin Freedman to see how anti-Semitic some Jews can be. It is immaterial whether "Maxine Weiss" is Jewish. Are you basing this this on a last name of Weiss? May I remind you that that man who shot Huey Long and launched the career of the antisemitic Gerald L. K. Smith was named Weiss and he was not Jewish? As for Ann Althouse, she is certainly no antisemite and it's insulting for Klein to suggest that she is.

  5. You are absolutely correct, that Jews can be anti-semitic. See my post on Richard Falk, http://legalinsurrection.blogspot.com/2009/03/ap-richard-falk-who-is-jewish.html

  6. The point of pointing out the the anonymous commenters may be Jewish is that when people make fun of their own ethic group (e.g. Chris Rock) it has a very different tone to it than when someone else does it (e.g., whoever has been taken down by the mainstream media based on a failed racial/ethnic/religious joke). So when Klein takes a dialogue in which Jews are making fun of Jews, and twists it into supposed anti-semitism, the ploy is all the more deceptive.

  7. Nice posting, William. Klein's a non-observant Jew, so his outrage is just for political effect. I really don't like these people, so keep up the good work!

  8. Ann is a security Democrat who voted for Bush in 2004 and Obama in 2009. She is not conservative on any other issue. Her commenters tend to be more conservative than she is. The Blog is as much Photography as it is politics. She does have a couple of commenters that I would consider anti-semitic and even more posters who self-identify as Jewish. . She generally does not police the comments section.

    I think Klein protests too much on this one.

  9. Maxine Weiss is a fruitcake. She has a long history of being a fruitcake and posting on Althouse. I do not see how she is organized enough to be a bigot.


  10. Yes, your article on Falk is dead on. There is a phenomena which has been noted by others. It is the "asajew" salutation. It's almost always used by those wishing to bash Israel. For Falk as well as for Finkelstein, it deflects criticism away from their extremist positions on Israel. Others use it to lend legitimacy for their positions. This is almost always the case for letter writers to the New York Times. "As A Jew, I object to Israel's....( fill in the blanks )". What I truly dislike about Klein is not only his false insinuation about Ann Althouse, but the fact that he has remained totally silent when it comes to the antisemitism of today's Left. One only need to read the many of the comments on the DailyKos or the Huffington Post to see the huge percentage of them which easily veer into the "Jews are Nazis" formulation. When Klein starts to speak out against Left-wing tolerance of antisemitism, maybe then I'll start to pay attention to what he writes.

  11. The funny thing here is that Klein really screwed the pooch with his choice of targets. Althouse will easily win this pissing contest.

    And if he tries to destroy her, all he will do is end up exposing himself and his cronies.

    This is full of win all around, actually.

  12. Hard to believe an actual law professor would write something like this, as filled with distortions, errors of fact, and unwarranted generalizations as it is.

    I bet you're a big John Yoo fan.

  13. ""I wouldn't apologize to Ann Althouse if I accidently ran her over"

    The whole point of being on the left is never admitting wrong. When you're on the left, someone else, somewhere, is always the heavy.

    To paraphrase Churchill (and the Bible, for that matter): When people come of age, they put away such childish things. Tragically, some people never do come of age.

  14. What nonsense. Althouse is about as racist as a flea without a dog to jump on. Want to solve this problem of who posted what on what blog. IP stamp each post. That way you can figure out where it came from. If it's from a iCafe or some other anonymous site, there isn't much you can about that other than suspecting the perpetrator goes there, but that would require a stakeout.

  15. Look ... getting into a debate about whether Althouse hates Jews, or whether Klein is unfair in accusing her of that is exactly what Klein wants.

    The story is no longer about Klein and the unethical journalists participating with the Democrat Party in daily conference calls, email lists and closed tribal social networks.

    If Klein were black, his post would be entitled: "Did Althouse commenters just call me a ni**er."

    It's classic Goebbels. Klein and his ilk have definitely learned the lessons of history and are now applying them upon the United States.

    If you criticize a Jew, you are ipso facto a Nazi, in exactly the same way that if you criticize Obama policies you are a black hater.

    The ovens, I have no doubt they will eventually convince themselves, are the only solution.

  16. William - I am so glad I found your blog - why didn't I know about you until last week? I read Althouse and comment there. I know she voted for Obama, but there is something about her- a rationality that is genuine, and I like that. I realize her readers and commenters are more right of center - but if true lefties REALLY read her blog and let their fiercely held biases at home, they might like her as well.

  17. Excellent post. Ann Althouse is about as open minded and fair as they come. This whole affair is a perfect illustration of the tone deaf attitude of the far left. Part of the reason I read and love Althouse so much IS her willingness to buck the crowd...

  18. Brendan - See my post What To Do About John Yoo? in which I write: "I have a better idea. Rather than indicting Yoo, why don't we give him a medal for helping to frame policies which have largely been upheld by the courts, have been implemented by bipartisan congressional action, and have helped keep the country safe."

  19. Speculation is not Anti-Semitism.

    Furthermore, the Klein kid never denied it, which speaks volumes.

    "Abel" is a Biblical name (Kane & Abel), but it's also a very common first name in the Hispanic community, moreso, I would say, than in the Jewish community.


  20. William: Thanks for confirming my suspicions. I'll pass on reading your post defending John Yoo, thanks all the same. There is only so much wingnuttery one stomach can take.

  21. P.S. You might enjoy this.

    I'll buy him a plane ticket.