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Stop Jodi Rudoren Before She Tweets Again!

Plus, Joe Trippi speaks about her coverage of the Dean campaign

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I just spoke with Joe Trippi about the New York Times‘ Jodi Rudoren, who (then Jodi Wilgoren) covered Howard Dean’s campaign (which Trippi ran) in 2003. That was an intense, polarizing news story with true believers on both sides: the closest approximation, probably, to what she’s stepping into as the new Jerusalem bureau chief. “She tried to get both sides of the story,” he said. “There were definitely times when the campaign was angry with her for the way she covered it, but that probably would’ve happened no matter what.” Pro-Dean watchdogs like the Wilgoren Watch blog, he argued, were more revealing of the watchers than the watched. Trippi continued: “I never saw her soften something because she was worried one side or the other would be worried or angry with her. We were pretty ticked sometimes, but that didn’t change the way she reported it.” He added, “So depending on where you’re coming from, that could be good or bad!”

Meanwhile, I’m on record, today of all days, approving of Jews tweeting. But when you have just been named the Times Jerusalem bureau chief, that may be a good time to hold off: Everyone on all sides is waiting to figure out where you stand and, having done so, to accuse you of being wrong; using Twitter to feint toward certain views—or even just to build a presence—is pretty much the worst thing you can do. Get to Jerusalem, settle in, start producing copy, and be judged on that—as you’d want to be anyway. We know Sam Sifton does it, but restaurants aren’t quite as fraught as the Middle East, and anyway he also tweets more than he should.

On top of that, Rudoren’s tweets in the past 24 hours haven’t been innocuous. Tweeting at Ali Abunimah, the editor of the frankly anti-Israel Electronic Intifada Website, that she’s “heard good things”—of someone who advocates boycott, divestment, and sanctions of Israel and a one-state solution—is rightly making supporters of Israel suspicious of her objectivity and of where she stands. Ditto retweeting an article titled “Palestine: Love in the Time of Apartheid.” Even tweeting praise for Peter Beinart’s forthcoming book suggests, at least, that she favors one narrative of the conflict over the others.

The most charitable reading says Rudoren possesses an astounding lack of sense of the profile of the post to which she has been appointed; of how she is going to be perceived; and of the fact that she is betraying her opinions before she has even started reporting. Only a fool would expect a reporter to have no opinions, but we expect them to zip their opinions up in favor of objectivity and to come to new stories with an open mind; Rudoren is already damaging her readers’ trust. And it’s a totally unforced error! Nobody’s telling her to tweet! (Right?) She is voluntarily doing this. In this reading, she is one more Gen-Xer, in the Anthony Weiner mold, totally clueless about Twitter.

And the less charitable, perfectly plausible reading, is that she is slanted toward anti-Zionism. The Times needs to clean up this mess, and it starts by telling her to—for the love of God—stop tweeting.

Earlier: Meet Your New NYT Jerusalem Bureau Chief
Understanding Weinergate

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Randy Milligan says:

In tribute to the hallowed history of the ancient land that she’s covering, she should only be allowed to use social media that is just as old and weathered by time, Friendster.

So the problem is that she’s revealing too much information? Well, that doesn’t sound right.

If she has proclivities (and right now everyone is just guessing), I don’t think the answer is to cover them up. The right answer is to be forthright and honest.

Very disconcerting. I wonder if Abunima, Mondoscheiss, and all the other obsessive anti-zionist trolls will hound her as being unobjective the same way they did Bronner.if she does in fact prove to have an antizionist slant.

I agree; the blogosphere (or twittershpere) has been hugely revealing of the mindsets of a lot of journalists, and she chose to exploit it in full knowledge of the degree to which her views would be scrutinized.

She showed her hand, and it’s not surprising, consistent as it is with The New York Times line on the region, i.e., Zionism is inherently tainted, ergo, the West must indulge it’s most extreme critics, and not only give them a platform, but endorse their views, while soft-pedalling any of the unsavory aspects of their beliefs or actions. Additionally, the West is responsible for all of the conflicts and challenges that beset the Middle East.

Geoff M says:

The same Ali Abumina who nearly incited a riot by publishing false rumors of Jews storming al-Aqsa? Good things indeed.

Glad to know exactly where Rudoren stands on things. As Roy says, it’s consistent with the NYT’s view of the situation.

I’m looking forward to watching Marc Tracy twist himself into knots trying to show that Rudoren is in fact pro-Israel. Good times ahead!

Jeffrey says:

Marc R — I don’t think the point is that she’s revealing to much information. The problem is that she’s behaving more like a blogger or opinion writer than a news journalist. Can she be expected to keep her own personal opinions at arms’ length when she’s supposed to be gathering facts and investigating events? Maybe she can, but her first public writings suggest just the opposite.

For Zlota says:

Maybe it ‘s just a marketing device? Antisemitism and antizionism rack up a lot of page hits.

elhrac says:

What do you expect from the paper that publishes lovers of Israel like Roger Cohen, Thomas Friedman, Nicholas Kristof, Helene Cooper, Robert Mackey, etc. She will fit in there just fine.

Just a thought, but it could be that she is actually pro-Israel but thinks that if she butters up to the anti-Zionists right now, they’ll abuse her less once she starts writing. I know it’s a long shot, but I hope that’s the case.

Julian says:

The Times is anti Zionist. I don’t understand why people are surprised that they hired someone with that viewpoint.

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Stop Jodi Rudoren Before She Tweets Again!

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