(Pictured above: Chris Hughes, Editor-in-Chief of The New Republic, and his husband, Sean Eldridge, congressional candidate for NY’s 19th district.)
This won’t be a long post. I already said everything that needs to be said about Kiryas Joel, The New York Times, and Pine Bush here.
I was made aware of The New Republic doing a post on the issue. And I had some concerns about it given the relationship between the publication’s editor and his husband, who is running for a congressional seat in an area directly involved with the ongoing Pine Bush story.
You should know that The New Republic is owned by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes. Chris Hughes’s husband, Sean Eldridge, is in the middle of trying to buy his way to a congressional seat in New York’s 19th district, a seat currently held by Congressman Chris Gibson. The 19th district includes Sullivan County, which has a significant population of Hassidim and Orthodox Jews.
Go and look at the headline: “Did Hasidic Jews Leak Anti-Semitism To The New York Times” and then look at what the editor-in-chief’s husband, Sean Eldridge, is trying to do this Fall. The post then goes on to essentially state that no, Hassidic Jews did not leak the story and that the people of Pine Bush are anti-semitic. So, I hope you can see where my concern stems from.
More On The New York Times’s Botched Story Of Anti-Semitism In Pine Bush
Anyway, by now you know the deal with The New York Times piece: Benjamin Weiser, the reporter, has stated that he was “made aware” of the lawsuit in the Fall, which if you follow the timeline I mentioned in the previous article, came after Shalom Lamm’s development came under scrutiny, which has now lead to a probe by the state attorney general’s office and two lawsuits against the local mayor for perceived unethical behavior. The lawsuit in question about the Pine Bush School District was filed back in March of 2012.
Nate Schweber, the Times reporter that came to Pine Bush, interviewed a mentally disabled young man who, in the words of his parents to me, “felt intimidated” by Schweber. The New York Times told one concerned family that they had no reason to question what this young man told Nate, even though his own parents said he shouldn’t be taken as a reliable source. Yet, this went totally omitted in The New Republic piece when they mentioned the Times piece’s reliability.
The mechanic that Schweber interviewed in the piece, you know, the one who said, more or less, that “Jews belong in Sullivan County”? Nobody can seem to locate him. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t exist, but it makes you wonder how much time Schweber actually spent in Pine Bush, and whom he did (or didn’t) choose to talk to. Who in New York City is going to question the claim that Schweber spoke to a racist redneck in a pickup truck who hated Jews? I don’t suspect many would, and I’m speaking from my experience working with editors, producers, and reporters in the city.
Weiser also called the opposition group to the housing development. They told me he had a “clear agenda” on the phone and wasn’t interested in points that were made that the opposition to the housing development had more to do with alleged unethical behavior on the part of Lamm and the mayor than it did anti-semitism. That tell us that the Times already knew they were going to go with the “look at those racist rednecks” narrative that’s so easy to sell to readers, instead of the truth.
(Random Fact: Eric Schneiderman, the State attorney general, was formerly associated with Abraham Weider, the mayor of Kiryas Joel. This is something that will become important down the road, for reasons I can’t get into just yet. But, I mention it here because, as The New Republic tried to do, claiming the AG and governor are investigating claims of anti-semitism, therefore, anti-semitism claims in the lawsuit MUST be true, is bullshit. As mentioned in the previous article, the governor is up for re-election next year.
What do you think plays better in Brooklyn, Rockland County, Kiryas Joel, and Sullivan County, home to a very powerful bloc vote? That a front page story on anti-semitism in upstate New York went unaddressed, or that the governor launched a “full investigation” into a court case that has a motion pending to be dismissed?)
And as you can see from The New Republic post, here we are again with the 1% Rule rearing its ugly head, and a journalist using what extreme elements are saying as a way to depict an entire town. I talked about the 1% Rule here, so I’m not going to rehash it, but basically, the extreme minority do the majority of the commenting in blog comments, on message boards, and on places like Twitter. So using what the Village Voice compiled and saying that’s reliable, is bullshit. What The Village Voice has is not credible taken on its own without further substantiation from actually going and talking to people in the community.
A lesson for all of us: “People on the Internet” should never be used to characterize entire towns and populations because, more often than not, those “People on the Internet” don’t even accurately reflect … people on the Internet because of the 1% Rule.
The group that Weiser spoke to, The Jewish Federation of Orange County, about “anti-semitic incidents” in Orange County declined to provide details on those incidents when I approached them for comment. They did; however, write an op-ed to The Times Herald Record last week stating there was no connection between the housing development and the Pine Bush lawsuit. Except … there could be.
The Pine Bush Lawsuit IS Tied To The Bloomingburg Development, Whether We Like It Or Not.
I know this because the publicly-filed Court Order states that on September 10, 2013, the Court set a November 22nd deadline allowing the School District’s to file a motion to dismiss the case. Not long after the Order was signed, the story of the lawsuit popped up on the front page of The New York Times.
Not long after Shalom Lamm started to be investigated from the Attorney General’s office, the story popped up on the front page of The New York Times.
One of the fathers involved with the lawsuit, Jerrold Rosen, as mentioned in my previous article, owns a company based in Manhattan that leases aircraft. KJ Aviation.
Shalom Lamm owns a pilots license and the local airport in Sullivan County (and allegedly, one in Wallkill, New York, but I have yet to confirm this.)
Jerrold’s wife, Lucinda Rosen, worked for the local realtor, RJ Smith Realty. RJ Smith Realty has done work in the past with Lamm.
These facts are not hard to find. So it’s curious that The New Republic lead with “Did Hassidic Jews Leak A Story” and not, “Did two parties who know each other, with mutually beneficial goals, (win the lawsuit, deflect attention from the attorney general’s office or help get cleared by claiming “anti-semitism”) leak a story to the NYT?” Ok. That’s sort of a mouthful. Here’s a better headline: “Did The NYT Blow A Story About Massive Corruption?”
Yup. They did. But hey, look at all those racist rednecks in upstate New York everybody!