CLM: Jeffrey Goldberg snits where he eats

Jeffrey Goldberg
Jeffrey Goldberg

This is interesting. I regard Jeffrey Goldberg as a master navigator of his own career, but in his latest blogpost, his sextant is off. He suggests that Roger Cohen of the New York Times is not a real journalist and also attacks the editors of the Atlantic, where his blog appears. The Cohen bit:

I would like to draw your attention to this Haaretz piece, in which Ari Shavit schools Roger Cohen on how to be a journalist.

Nasty. Cohen is universally admired. He’s had a long distinguished career, he’s actually a gentleman and a scholar, plus he’s got intellectual honesty.

As for attacking the editors of the publication that runs your stuff– wow, that’s a CLM (career-limiting move; Jim Cramer taught me that great line when he was at Goldman, Sachs; some guy was wearing loud ties). Goldberg’s take on his editors comes in a riff about a Daniel Levy piece in favor of boycotting settlements that appeared on the Atlantic site and that criticized Goldberg.

The intricacies are too much to go into, or follow– but Goldberg twice questions the wisdom of the editors:

Always nice to find out on the Atlantic website that I’ve failed the intellectual scrutiny whiff-test. Of course, I never mentioned the Holocaust in this tweet, and I wasn’t thinking about the Holocaust.

And as a bonus, Levy shamelessly mischaracterizes my interview with President Obama… I’m sure Levy knows this, having read the interview, which was about only one thing. So, here’s Levy’s neat trick… Of course, Levy could have called me, or e-mailed me, to ask me what I meant, but he didn’t. Nor did his Atlantic editor apparently suggest that he do so, either.

I know, I keep predicting Goldberg’s eclipse by other Jewish writers; and I keep being wrong. But I do believe the sungod has passed his apogee.

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Posted in Iran, Israel Lobby, Media, US Policy in the Middle East, US Politics

{ 30 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Scott says:

    As for attacking the editors of the publication that runs your stuff– wow, that’s a CLM (career-limiting move; Jim Cramer taught me that great line when he was at Goldman, Sachs; some guy was wearing loud ties)

    Maybe he thinks he’s Dwight Howard.
    link to

  2. i read this the other day and noticed the undercurrent of hostility running thru the post. personally, i think he’s stuck. he was sounding all excited in bloomberg about filling us in about what netanyahu was thinking (“next week” which came and went). how bombing iran was going to be a cakewalk (poor paraphrasing on my part). the news bombing iran was being delayed set him back. and sullivan set him back.

    but i think this is one time you may have missed the juicy part of the cohen segment phil. in that one liner (I would like to draw your attention to this Haaretz piece, in which Ari Shavit schools Roger Cohen on how to be a journalist. ) he directs his readers to a 10 day old story about himself. he’s defending himself against all the smears being made about him (as being a mouthpiece for the goi/netanyahu) and he’s doing it byway of Ari Shavit’s article. the bolded headline title and opening:

    U.S. leaders had better heed Israel’s warnings on Iran

    On the one hand, we cannot exclude the possibility that the senior Israeli officials briefing us are bluffing. On the other hand, what we journalists hear in closed rooms is staggering.

    and here’s the money:

    On the other hand, what we journalists hear in closed rooms is staggering. The officials talking to us seem to be genuine and earnest. The sources are top-notch and what they say is consistent with what we know of the preparations being made by the IDF. There are no blunt lies here. There is no cheap spin. So are we to self censor priceless information indicating war might break out soon?

    The latest victim of the publish-or-censor dilemma is Jeffrey Goldberg. For years, Goldberg has been the leading American journalist covering the Israel-Iran crisis. In September 2010, he published a remarkable piece in the Atlantic Monthly, forecasting an Israeli air strike on Iran. In early March 2012, he conducted an in-depth interview with President Barack Obama regarding Israel and Iran.

    In his Bloomberg columns, Goldberg monitors the unfolding Mideast drama with precision and insight. And yet, distinguished columnists such as Roger Cohen of the New York Times dismiss Goldberg’s information and analysis. They claim that an Israeli attack on Iran (with no American support and cooperation) is insane and therefore would never happen.

    so it’s not so much about roger cohen per se. he wants his audience to read the story. he misses bomb iran. what’s he gonna do now? he’s peeved.

    • marc b. says:

      that is the money, annie. shavit does two things in his piece: 1. praises goldberg, ‘the leading American journalist covering the Israel-Iran crisis’ (if by ‘leading’ shavit means, leading us to war, i don’t disagree with his assessment); 2. admits that he (shavit) is a ventriloquist for netanyahu’s ‘you better bomb iran, or we will bomb iran’ campaign. so that’s the two-pronged journalistic lesson cohen (of whom i’m no great fan, although he is closer to a journalist in the conventional sense than goldberg) should learn: gush over goldberg; regurgitate netanyahu.

    • LeaNder says:

      My thought, Annie, since I already wrote it may I paste it here?

      I trust Avi Shavit, about as much as I trust Jeffrey Goldberg.
      Ran HaCohen described Shavit as the “rhinocerised Ha’aretz journalist Ari Shavit” (in The Auschwitz Logic). He has also described him as “a loyal mouthpiece of any leader in power” (in an article entitled Mid-Eastern Terms). On 7 August 2003, in a posting to the Alef electronic discussion forum, Ran HaCohen included Shavit in a list of writers whom he characterised as either hypocrites or opportunists.:

      Is the more important message in his Roger Cohen link actually this:

      So temperatures are rising in Jerusalem. As time is running out the Goldberg scenario becomes more and more likely. What he hears from his sources, and what I hear from my sources, lead us to believe the coming summer is a crucial one. If senior Israelis are now shouting gewald, American decision makers and opinion leaders had better pay close attention.

      The idyllic introduction reminds me of the journalism Karl Kraus faught in the times leading up to WWI and it’s celebration of war. Let’s hope Bibi only wants not only the Iron Dome but also the Magic Wand from the US, and that is all what it is about. Maybe his allusion to Cohen is only a trick to get this core message over. Of course the image of being protected doesn’t make you the hero of old. So there is still hope for Jeffrey, he can celebrate in summer.

      • marc, leander, after doing a little research i realize i may have missed an important part of the story. i’m not sure how it is i never read roger cohen’s 3/22 nyt article ‘The False Iran Debate’ but it’s really good and it’s about goldberg’s reporting. link to

        interestingly shavit wrote a fear iran article (If Iran goes nuclear it will change our world.) for the nyt the day before on the 21st so shavit’s is very much in the same ramp up iran category as goldberg: link to

        but jeffrey. how can he deliver us the news on iran now when:

        a) it was announced israel wasn’t going to bomb iran this year.

        b) if he writes something about iran he can expect the reaction will now be about him:
        link to

        and here:

        link to

        not sure how it is i missed cohen’s article at the time i was reviewing the sullivan flap but sully started this off 2 days prior to cohen’s article here:

        link to

        and while the footsoldiers came to his defense goldberg has yet to defend himself. he first blew sullivan off while insulting him and then came back and said he would defend his accusations against sullivan but nowhere did he defend himself against the accusations made against him, nor (as far as i know) has anyone else come to goldberg’s defense in the US msm. and that is what shavit does (albeit in israel/not good enough). but goldberg didn’t defend himself against cohen either, til now in a very backhanded way if you could call the cohen smear a defense.

        but there’s something even more strange about the shavit article. check this out. he calls goldberg a victim of the publish-or-censor dilemma (because cohen ‘ignores’ him) but completely fails to mention the much more serious charge against goldberg that is much more inflammatory, egregious, and made the gossip rounds all over the blogosphere, that of being a shill. cohen doesn’t go there, he picks up sullivan’s critique but skips the cutting part.

        goldberg is boxed in.

        • marc b. says:

          the cohen piece is interesting, annie. he refers to the ‘goldberg variations’, goldberg’s evolutionary ‘analysis’ on the inevitability of an attack on iran as being ‘serious’, given golberg’s access to obama and netanyahu. that’s not quite the same as saying goldberg is to be taken seriously as a journalist, though. cohen seems perfectly capable of subtlety, while goldberg is not, and if i read between the lines, cohen’s evaluation of goldberg is of a messanger rather than journalist or analyst.

          another interesting bit of cohen’s piece is his (apparent) symbolic allusion to the threat of an american/israeli attack on iran. from cohen:

          You don’t spend long in Tehran without someone rolling up a sleeve, pointing to a horrific scar and saying “America.” The wound is from gassing during the Iran-Iraq conflict in which the West provided Saddam Hussein with chemical weapons. The generation of young officers who fought that 1980-88 war now runs Iran.

          rolling up a sleeve to reveal a scar, the evidence of an atrocity. what does that remind you of?

        • LeaNder says:

          thanks Annie, that must indeed be the origin for Goldberg’s and in turn Shavit’s irritations with Roger Cohen. How can he dare to disturb their propagandistic circles? They have a marching order after all, does he have one? ;)

        • you mean along with the reference to gassing? good catch.

          cohen is a real reporter, the same can’t be said for goldberg who is renowned mostly for his insider connections. he’s in over his head and probably knows it.

        • LeaNder says:

          Annie, I only used your links. The Shavit link doesn’t work.

          The gassing reference stands for the whole support of Iraq by America, it feels, which was Mossadeq all over again. Some Iranians, I know, are convinced the Iran-Iraq war ultimately brought the Mullahs to power. Cohen sees all this very, very clearly…

          Goldberg and Shavit only play on our nerves as if they were fiddle-strings.

        • leaNder, this probably goes without saying but there are two shavit’s articles being discussed. i wasn’t really clear about which one i was referencing in my ‘even more strange’ reference. but the one goldberg linked to (and phil linked to) was the one in haaretz about goldberg, not the one shavit wrote in the nyt.

        • Some Iranians, I know, are convinced the Iran-Iraq war ultimately brought the Mullahs to power.

          Iran became an Islamic Republic in April 1979. Khomeini came to power in December 1979. Iraq invaded Iranian territory on September 22, 1980.

        • ToivoS says:

          Some Iranians, I know, are convinced the Iran-Iraq war ultimately brought the Mullahs to power.

          It was the crises around the seizure of the US embassy in Tehran that brought the Mullahs to power. That ended 9 months before Iraq invaded Iran.

        • LeaNder says:

          Yes, it doesn’t seem fit, but it’s not my invention either, but someone says so, who actually knows quite a bit about the revolution, since he was involved in it, founded a party there which created much interest and returned to Germany shortly before the Mullah’s took over. You can ask him if you like. Another Wikipage that needs care: Bahman Nirumand. His German Wikipedia page is slightly more clean, since over here he is quite well known. He went to highschool and studied in Germany. A book of his was very influential in the protest against the Shah in Berlin in 1967 that led to the killing of Benno Ohnesorg. The Shah’s SAVAK was all over the place and German police stood back. I met Bahman some years later.

        • LeaNder says:

          Thanks for the link How I Spent the War A recruit in the Waffen S.S.
          by Günter Grass June 4, 2007
          , I think that was on your blog piece about the Grass affair, by the way, Philip.

  3. W.Jones says:

    “Cohen is universally admired… he’s actually a gentleman” Um, really?

  4. piotr says:

    “They claim that an Israeli attack on Iran (with no American support and cooperation) is insane and therefore would never happen.”

    Perhaps the reasoning is faulty. Insane -> would not happen. ???

  5. Les says:

    Corporal Goldberg’s infatuation with himself is as unbecoming as it is obvious.

    • marc b. says:

      les, i just read nathan englander’s short story collection, ‘what we talk about when we talk about anne frank’. maybe goldberg could write a semi-non-fiction account of his career as a journalist entitled ‘what i talk about when i can’t stop talking about myself’. i’d read it. if the local public library kept a copy.

  6. Ari Shavit is an utter buffoon whose only useful talent is dexterity in adhering his tongue to a leading politician’s rectum (for a long time it was Netanyahu, lately it’s Barak). He couldn’t school a pravda editor in journalism. That’s all that needs to be said about Goldberg’s latest recto-cranial inversion moment.

    • excellent getting your take on things rechavia!

    • LeaNder says:

      strong words, welcome in the Mondoweiss comment section Rick Berman. ;)

      • my impression of shavit is far more positive than that expressed by mister rechavia berman although from the sound of it, mister berman has read more columns of shavit’s than i have.

        I certainly depend more upon shavit’s opinion than i do on goldberg’s opinion, although i find phil weiss’s harping on goldberg’s career kind of annoying, but it doesn’t interest me. goldberg has a better than average sense of humor (i confess that senses of humor differ from person to person) and goldberg got the interview from castro broadcasting castro’s attitude towards the jews. that anointed goldberg as the messenger to the jews. hitchens talked to goldberg with amis in the room and though goldberg was clearly uncomfortable near the brains of hitchens and amis, that too was an anointment of sorts.

        these guys goldberg and shavit are “promising” an israel attack if US and iran don’t reach an agreement this summer. if the attack comes, everything will be different, there will be before attack and after attack. if the attack doesn’t come this fall, are they going to predict for the next summer and then the next fall? Sounds like a fatiguing process.

        i can’t wrap my imagination around an attack on iran, it kind of does not compute and my machine turns off. it’s come to the point of fatalism. if something is going to happen so sui generis I can’t compute it.

        • marc b. says:

          these guys goldberg and shavit are “promising” an israel attack if US and iran don’t reach an agreement this summer.

          it might just be semantics, wondering, but ‘these guys’ don’t have the authority to promise anything. they’re delivering a message, like western union sends telegrams, and the message is if you don’t do what master wants, something, like iran, or maybe more broadly SW asia, will get broken.

        • Sounds like a fatiguing process.

          that’s the whole pt. keep everyone on their toes. they will bomb, they won’t bomb, they may bomb, they may not. today it’s ‘they may in october.’

          link to

          great, right before the election. if gop wins maybe it will be like cast lead, between the election and the inauguration.

  7. dbroncos says:

    “…Snits Where He Eats” Love the headline. The Atlantic should do its readers a real service, fire Goldberg and hire Weiss.

  8. ToivoS says:

    Your friends might be right. The embassy takeover resulted in discrediting the secular forces that were part of the coalition that replaced the Shah — namely Bani Sadr and Ghorbanifor (sp??) and their followers. With the destruction of these people and the other secular leftist forces the Islamists emerged as the most powerful political force in Iran. It is quite possible that the Iraqi invasion further consolidated their control over Iran (just your good old fashioned rally around the nation, as represented by the current government that controlled state power).

  9. dbroncos says:

    Cohen deserves credit for spitting out his muzzle long enough to voice some audible criticism of Israel in the “newspaper of record.” He left me with the impression that his private views are even darker than what he’s said in his column.