My favorite thing about allegations of an anti-Semitic purge at The New Republic

Let’s start out — appropriately — with the article that started it all:

Hughes Drops Jews

BY: Washington Free Beacon Staff January 28, 2013 6:03 pm

The New Republic has quietly dropped at least five prominent Jewish writers from its masthead in a move that may signal the publication’s continued drift away from a staunchly pro-Israel standpoint.

The magazine has launched an aggressive new editorial direction under the ownership of wealthy socialite Chris Hughes, who is best known for sharing a room with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg at Harvard University.

Jonathan Chait appropriately took the Free Beacon piece down in an article for New York Magazine, Hitler Alive and Well, Owning Liberal Magazine, which was forwarded to me as “your style reportage” (I presume, for the exquisitely to-the-point headline):

The headline — “Hughes Drops Jews” — implies that the magazine’s new owner has undertaken a broad anti-Semitic purge, a prospect that would surely alarm, among others, his newly hired Jewish editor, Frank Foer. The introduction to the story blares, “The New Republic has quietly dropped at least five prominent Jewish writers from its masthead in a move that may signal the publication’s continued drift away from a staunchly pro-Israel standpoint.” Oddly, this sentence conflates Jewish writers with pro-Israel writers, an odd equation favored by hard-core anti-Semites.

OK, so five prominent Jewish writers are out. That looks pretty bad — but maybe the New Republic would benefit from the benefit of the doubt? Or, you know, a little more context? So Chait’s article attempts to provide just that:

By the end, the piece includes still more information. “Seven additional writers have been dropped from the newly redesigned masthead. They include: Gregg Easterbrook, Jean Bethke Elshtain, Jeremy McCarter, Maggie Scarf, R.V. Thaw, Alan Wolfe, and Robert Wright.” So the facts of the story turn out to be that a magazine has conducted some routine trimming of its unpaid, ceremonial list, and five of the writers deprived of their ceremonial title are Jewish and seven are not!

You’ll note that Chait is simply engaged in counting circumcised penises, a perfectly adequate approach when evaluating the original claim that the New Republic’s cuts (pun intended) were aimed specifically at Jews —

So, in a mere 314 words, we have gone from a purge of Jews to a report that half the writers removed from a titular list of former contributors are Jewish, and some of them hold hawkish positions on Israel, and one holds dovish views. (A scan of the current and still rather long contributing editor roster suggests that the remaining proportion is at least as heavily Jewish as those ushered off it.) This is not quite the publishing Kristallnacht the Free Beacon’s readers were promised.

— but not quite far enough to reach “my favorite thing” promised in the subject line of this post.

To do that, let’s take a slightly-closer look at the list of seven non-Jews the Beacon and Chait agree were also let go. We’ll begin with Chait’s take, but the extent to which he does so suggests he is simply interested in increasing the accuracy of the head count he began earlier:

Wolfe is reportedly Jewish, an easily Google-able fact the Free Beacon misses in an immovable object-versus-irresistible-force collision of the Beacon’s desire to make the story as sensationalist as possible against its lack of basic journalistic competence.

And thanks to this decidedly narrow focus, Chait misses the opportunity to point out one of the more remarkable names the Beacon also managed to ignore: one Gregg Easterbrook. Yes, we’re supposed to believe that the same Gregg Easterbrook who once managed to blunder into allegations of anti-Semitism of his own was just let go by an organization recently engaging in an anti-Semitic purge.

Typically, such a purge is not understood as an attempt to rid oneself of anti-Semites. Unless, of course, Easterbook’s firing was just a clever ploy designed to divert attention from the New Republic’s “continued drift away from a staunchly pro-Israel standpoint.”

In which case, New Republic, the Free Beacon is onto you.

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