Peter Beinart at Open Zion takes on Rupert Murdoch’s tweet from last night:
It’s offensive to journalists because it implies that institutions of the “press” should reflect the ideological biases of their owners. Reading Murdoch’s tweet, it would be logical to conclude that he believes that any newspaper he owns should reflect his right-wing views, even in its news coverage. The FCC might want to consider that when evaluating Murdoch’s reported bid to buy the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times.
Murdoch’s tweet is offensive to Jews because he’s suggesting that when it comes to Israel, Jewish media-owners should let their Jewishness guide their journalism. In the last couple of years, some on the left have gotten into trouble for using the phrase “Israel-firster,” thus implying that some American Jews place loyalty to Israel above individual conscience or loyalty to the United States. Murdoch seems upset that Jewish media owners are not Israel-firsters. He wants their tribal loyalty to a Jewish state to trump their professional obligation to oversee fair-minded, unbiased journalism.
As a smart friend points out, Murdoch’s tweet is the equivalent of saying “Why don’t Jewish bankers loan more money to Jews?” What’s offensive is the suggestion that Jewish bankers should make professional decisions not as bankers, but as Jews.
The twist, of course, is that Murdoch is upset at Jewish media owners for not favoring Israel. It’s possible, therefore, to read his tweet as a back-handed acknowledgment that Jewish media owners do act according to professional obligation, not tribal loyalty. That, however, would be too charitable. Had Murdoch merely observed that the “Jewish owned press” isn’t “consistently” pro-Israel, the implication might be that, true to journalistic obligation, Jewish media owners let their reporters follow the facts wherever they lead.
But Murdoch said something different: that the “Jewish owned press” is “consistently” anti-Israel. The implication is that Jewish media owners do indeed let their Jewishness define their Israel coverage. That’s why the coverage is “consistently” anti-Israel in “in every crisis.” It’s just that journalistically, their Jewishness expresses itself as hostility to Israel.