Yesterday the Washington Post ombudsman finally weighed in on neoconservative Post blogger Jennifer Rubin's endorsement of Rachel Abrams's murderous rant against Palestinians. Max Blumenthal had exposed Rubin's retweet endorsement in the first place, and pointed out that Octavia Nasr lost her job at CNN for tweets of a far less incendiary character. Here is an excerpt of Blumenthal's take on the Post's statements about the scandal:
[Washington Post ombudsman Patrick] Pexton asked Rubin if her re-tweet was simply an innocent gesture intended to direct her followers to a widely discussed piece of inflammatory writing, or if it was an explicit endorsement of Abrams' call for murdering Palestinians, whom she described as "unmanned animals" and "child-sacrificing savages." Rubin replied matter-of-factly that it was the latter: she supported Abrams' message. According to Pexton, "But in this case Rubin told me that she did agree with Abrams. Rubin said that she admires Abrams, has quoted her a lot, thinks she’s an excellent writer and endorsed the sentiment behind the Abrams blog post."
Though Pexton stopped short of calling for Rubin to be fired, he concluded that by endorsing what amounted to a call for mass murder, if not genocide, "Rubin did damage to The Post and the credibility that keeps it afloat."
Pexton (who has been compelled to protect Rubin before) added in Rubin's defense that "The Post needs conservative voices to balance its many liberal ones." However, Rubin is not seen by political conservatives as a standard bearer of their views. Erick Erickson, a prominent right-wing blogger, accurately characterized Rubin as "Likud rather than Republican." She described herself to Pexton simply as "a pro-Israel blogger." The only bumper sticker on her car reads: “JERUSALEM IS NOT A SETTLEMENT. It’s Israel’s Eternal And Undivided Capital.” Rubin is nothing more than a Greater Israel fanatic committed above all to the extremist colonies forcibly implanted in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Perhaps the only thing she shares with Tea Party-style conservatives like Erickson is the tendency to exalt American and Israeli violence against Muslims, or those they might call "child sacrificing savages."
So how does Rubin provide the Washington Post with "balance?" None of the paper's supposedly liberal columnists are willing to raise a peep in favor of Palestinian rights, and even if they were, they could face harsh reprisals for doing so. Moreover, the Post op-ed page is dominated by neoconservatives and torture enthusiasts whose views on Israel-Palestine are practically identical to Rubin's. Instead of balancing out the "many liberal" voices at the Post, Rubin simply injects elements of vitriol and Jewish extremism into a droning chorus of ultra-Zionist cant.
To be sure, it is rare for any newspaper ombudsman to call for the termination of a writer. Usually, a withering criticism like the one Pexton published about Rubin would be followed by swift punitive action by the editorial board. At least, that is what would happen inside a decent newsroom where mass murder and hate speech is frowned upon. However, when he was queried by Politico's Ben Smith about Rubin's endorsement of Abrams' genocidal rant, Washington Post op-ed page editor Fred Hiatt rushed to his columnist's defense.
"I think Jennifer is an excellent journalist and a relentless reporter," Hiatt declared. "I think because she has strong views, and because she is as willing to take on her home team, as it were, as the visitors, she comes under more scrutiny than many and is often the target of unjustified criticism. I think she brings enormous value to the Post."
Leaving aside the fact that Rubin's stated support for mass murdering Palestinians did not seem to trouble Hiatt at all, there are a number of problems with his statement. First of all, Rubin is not a journalist or a reporter, and she never has been. Before Hiatt hired her to blog for the Post, she was a former lawyer who churned out opinion pieces and blog posts expressing stock neoconservative views for movement outlets like the Weekly Standard and Commentary.
Further, Hiatt's reference to "the home team" and "the visitors" was confusing. Presumably he was alluding to conservatives and liberals, since Rubin often criticizes the Republican opponents of Mitt Romney (Romney is the most pliant marionette the neocons could find among the Republican primary field). But Rubin's real home team is not the conservative movement or the Republican Party. Her team is called "Judea and Samaria," and it is comprised of visitors from Brooklyn who intend to displace as many indigenous Palestinians as they can. Contrary to Hiatt's claim, Rubin is coming under scrutiny for being an advocate of violence and ethnic eliminationism, not for being fiercely independent.
If Rubin had brazenly supported a call for the mass killing of blacks, gays or Jews, the Washington Post would have probably become the target of a boycott campaign organized by a national coalition of civil rights groups. And if Hiatt leapt to her defense, the damage would have spread through the upper echelons of the paper, tainting him and everyone around him. But Rubin was promoting the killing of the Palestinian un-people.