Yet another international “crisis” has been sparked by none other than Jeffrey Goldberg, a confirmed fraud whose propagandistic browbeating in favor of the Iraq War should’ve decimated any remnant of journalistic credibility he ever had, but instead further bolstered his influence and stature. Because as we all know, the incentive structures of elite journalism are laughably broken.
When I call Jeffrey Goldberg a fraud, I’m not engaging in hyperbole just to get a rise out of people or needle neoconservatives. Needling at neoconservatives once in awhile can be fun, but it’s also a little trite at this point, because everyone (should) understand what they’re about by now, and firing off one-liners isn’t really going to advance the goal of undermining their agenda. If anything, it might even embolden them. (Bill Kristol, the neocons’ Darth Vader, seems to enjoy trolling with his new Twitter account, and as of this writing trolled me three separate times on that medium.)
Review Jeffrey Goldberg’s record for yourself if you must. Just know that I do not use the term “fraud” lightly.
Not only was Jeffrey Goldberg never held accountable in the slightest for the massively destructive falsehoods that he spewed in the early 2000s, he was permitted to carry on with the same old shtick year after year, from his comfortable perch atop The Atlantic masthead. Another major international incident he provoked between the United States, Israel, and Iran thankfully never resulted in a full-blown military conflagration, because he was once again proven utterly wrong, but once again he kept right on peddling his propaganda with the imprimatur of one of the nation’s most august magazines.
Nevertheless, I was flummoxed this past week when Jeffrey’s reporting on an alleged mean comment by an American official about Benjamin Netanyahu was spread across the journo-pundit-sphere uncritically, as if Goldberg’s journalistic record is unblemished. “Chickenshit-gate” consists of Jeffrey Goldberg claiming that an anonymous “US official” ran to him to use a bad word about Netanyahu. Of course, this was promptly circulated by all the familiar members of the “pro-Israel” lobby who are on constant red-alert about any potential slights against the Jewish State, and ready to pounce on any American elected official who utters even the mildest criticism.
It would be one thing if Jeffrey Goldberg was an untarnished journalist whose past reporting has always checked out. Then, even in the case of the capricious anonymity that was afforded to this “US official,” there might’ve been a case for uncritically circulating the “chickenshit” piece. But that’s not the case with Goldberg. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. Trawling through Jeffrey’s various journalistic disgraces is exhausting, and I don’t feel compelled to do so for the purposes of substantiating this blog post. I’ve provided links to ample materials, and readers are encouraged to peruse them at their convenience.
Let’s say we accept that Jeffrey Goldberg has committed acts of egregious journalistic malfeasance in the past, but because he is a Serious Atlantic journalist, it’s right and proper to accord him some due deference, and at least not immediately dismiss the “chickenshit” comment. Even by that logic, it still would’ve been right and proper to append any story about the alleged comments with a disclaimer: hey, this thing was reported by a person who has a really questionable record, and we should at least bear that in mind when assessing the veracity of the reporting. Who the heck was this anonymous “official” anyway? “Official” could mean almost anything. As Daniel McAdams of the Ron Paul Institute pointed out to me, “Could be ‘official’ janitor. More likely, a planned pre-emptive strike on Obama over new Israeli settlement plans.”
It wouldn’t be the first time Goldberg endeavored to promote the reigning Israeli government’s agenda under the guise of Very Serious Journalism.
But nope, no such due diligence was evident this past week as Jeffrey’s latest bogus “revelation” spread like wildfire. I felt like I was alone in the wilderness with my tweets of warning and consternation. Even The Guardian, sadly, failed to exercise sufficient journalistic discretion. A really pitiful episode all around.
Of course, this has all redounded squarely to the benefit of Jeffrey. John Kerry was forced to address and condemn “chickenshit-gate.” (He also phoned Netanyahu to ‘apologize’). Presidential front-runner Ted Cruz wrote a Time magazine op-ed catalyzed by Goldberg’s item. Like clockwork and without a moment’s reflection, this thing escalated into a full-scale international incident. Because our elite media culture is one in which Jeffrey Goldberg still commands the level of power to provoke such incidents. If that doesn’t make you depressed about Whether Things Can Ever Change, well… it should.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Obama eventually cans the guy or gal who is alleged to have been responsible for whining to Jeffrey. But I think the real scandal here has been glossed over. The more appropriate epithet for Netanyahu would’ve been not “chickenshit,” but perhaps “piece of shit,” “horse-shit,” “shit-stirrer,” “bullshit artist,” or similar. Netanyahu is a lot of things, but he just killed 500 Gazan children. That takes balls. He ain’t no chickenshit.