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Published on August 5th, 2011 | by Daniel Luban

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The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin Problem

To follow up on Ali’s thorough post detailing Jennifer Rubin’s continuing problems with the truth, it’s worth taking a step back from the concrete details of the story for a moment. Rubin’s latest fibs — in which she mistakenly blamed Islamic militants for the July 22 massacre in Norway, failed to correct her mistake when word of the real perpetrator’s identity leaked, then falsely claimed that she had been unable to update her post because she was celebrating Shabbat — are actually the second scandal she’s been involved with during her brief time at the Washington Post.

In June, Rubin falsely suggested that the Obama administration was abandoning past Quartet policy by pressuring the Israeli government to negotiate without preconditions with Hamas. Rubin cited as evidence a conference call that administration official Steve Simon held with American Jewish leaders; unfortunately, she misrepresented the contents of the conference call so brazenly that JTA’s Ron Kampeas stepped in to call her out on her deceptions. It’s worth noting that the Breivik dustup marks the second time that Kampeas — a veteran journalist with strong connections to the American Jewish establishment who is anything but a radical leftist — has flatly accused Rubin of dishonesty.

But these scandals are, more than anything, predictable. When the Post first hired Rubin last fall, I noted that she seemed to have been brought on board purely as a sop to the right, despite the fact that she had almost no actual reporting experience and seemed to view her job as a form of PR rather than journalism. In defending the Rubin hire, Post editors suggested that she was intended to balance liberal-leaning journalist Greg Sargent. But as I wrote, this logic was highly revealing of the problems with the mainstream media’s conception of “balance”:

Sargent certainly leans liberal, but he is also a very good reporter who breaks stories and is willing to criticize the Democrats; Rubin, by contrast, has no real experience as a reporter (as opposed to commentator) and has never met a Republican or Likud talking point she didn’t like.

To take only one recent example, Sargent recently wrote a widely-read piece describing the recent debt-ceiling deal as a “huge, unprecedented political victory” for the Republicans. Read his post, and ask yourself if you can ever, under any circumstances, imagine Rubin describing any event as a “huge, unprecedented political victory” for Obama or the Democrats. On the contrary, for Rubin every event marks a glorious triumph for the Republicans and a crushing defeat for Obama; she has rapidly supplanted the Weekly Standard‘s Fred Barnes as the most comically in-the-tank Republican flack.

Since Rubin has amply demonstrated that she views her Post gig as a means to advance Republican and Likud political goals rather than an opportunity to do actual journalism, almost inevitably it’s only a matter of time before she gets in hot water for fudging the truth once again. The only real question is how long her Post higher-ups will be willing to put up with it. Despite its rapid decline in recent years, the Post still has many distinguished journalists on staff, and one has to imagine that they are rapidly growing tired of having to apologize for their honesty-challenged colleague.

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4 Responses to The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin Problem

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  1. avatar Oso Politico says:

    Being a libertarian, more or less, I have no dog in this fight, but I wonder why the Zionist/Palestinian issue is seen through the lense of American political divides.

    The religious right I understand, but there are many, many individuals on the left (Hillary,for instance) who are very pro-Israel also.

    Granted it is a very complicated moral situation, but is it also a left/right issue also?

    I don’t think so.

  2. avatar Jon Harrison says:

    She spreads her nonsense on television, too. I just saw her a short time ago on CNN, I think it was. There’s a double standard here. Recall Lobe’s reporting on the (CNN?) journalist who was removed for supposed anti-Israeli views.

  3. avatar scott says:

    There’s one problem with Daniel’s premise. All that “hot water” she gets in is lucrative. Meanwhile I suspect that Daniel and the other terrific reporters here aren’t nearly as well compensated. There’s little reward for truth and complexity in a world overrun by obsequious sycophants.

  4. avatar dickerson3870 says:

    RE: “When the Post first hired [Jennifer] Rubin last fall, I noted that she seemed…to view her job as a form of PR rather than journalism.” ~ Luban

    SPEAKING OF the Washington Post and Jennifer Rubin’s PR efforts: Inside CUFI’s 2011 Washington “Summit “, Special to JewsOnFirst.org, 07/29/11
    Our eyewitness report on Christians United For Israel’s annual Washington conference
    (excerpt)…And this is where those Jews who are strong supporters of CUFI come in handy. They can criticize Jews to a far greater degree than any Christian Zionists would be willing to do. Conservative commentator Jennifer Rubin spent a great deal of her talk slamming her co-religionists for being naively liberal, and referencing her fellow panelist’s father’s book – Norman Podhoretz’s “Why are Jews Liberal?” – as a way to try and explain that they have fallen away from God and been captivated by the “religion of liberalism” to which the audience expressed considerable dismay. Rubin and others are useful for this kind of criticism because it allows them to express contempt for their fellow Jews, which coming out of the mouth of anyone else would, quite rightly, be considered anti-Semitism
    ENTIRE REPORT – http://www.jewsonfirst.org/11a/CUFI2011a.aspx


About the Author

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Daniel Luban is a postdoctoral associate at Yale University. He holds a PhD in politics from the University of Chicago and was formerly a correspondent in the Washington bureau of Inter Press Service.



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