The Zionist Conspiracy
Friday, April 02, 2004
Final Word On Kelley
In this week's Jewish Press, Jason Maoz sums up the Jack Kelley USA Today scandal, and is kind enough to quote me extensively:
So it appears the allegations - many of them made by former colleagues - were spot on after all. Jack Kelley, at one time USA Today's star reporter, had this rather unfortunate habit of fabricating events and, apparently, entire stories.
In a detailed account, USA Today recently announced to the world that its internal investigation had left no doubt that Kelley was a fabulist of colossal proportions. Included among his concoctions were a piece he did on a group of hate-filled Israeli settlers, led by one "Avi Shapiro" - whom Kelley described as essentially lusting after Arab blood - and one on the 2001 Jerusalem Sbarro bombing, which Kelley claimed to have witnessed first hand.
Joseph Schick, who on his blog The Zionist Conspiracy (www.jschick.blogspot.com) has been on top of the Kelley story since the first glimmers began appearing in the press, tells the Monitor that "Kelley's piece about the settlers was no less than a blood libel." The story, Schick continues, "reinforced all of the false stereotypes about residents of Yesha, and is part of the reason why murder of Jews outside of the Green Line is accepted as some sort of legitimate 'resistance.' A reader of that article - which appeared on USA Today's front page - would have no reason not to equate Jewish settlers with Hamas."
Arabs, Schick recalls, had "complained about Kelley's Sbarro piece, which they saw as being sympathetic to Israel. That probably motivated Kelley to fabricate the Avi Shapiro article, which was published just a few weeks later, so that he would appear to be even-handed, reporting on violent fanatics on both sides. Of course, while both the Sbarro and Shapiro articles were fakes, the Sbarro bombing really happened, while Shapiro and his twelve cohorts are all fictional."
Kelley, says Schick, is far from alone in the media when it comes to portraying a moral equivalence between Palestinians and Israelis. "They may not fabricate events, but most of the U.S. media are as guilty of demonizing the residents of Judea, Samaria and Gaza as was Kelley.
"Their motivations are generally not sinister - they simply are trying to be neutral, so they balance criticism of suicide bombings with criticism of settlers."
"When challenged, they often cannot articulate the reasons for their contempt. Obviously settlements are controversial and not immune from criticism, but the way they and their residents are depicted is appalling."
Schick notes that he was convinced of Kelley's culpability well before USA Today made it official. "When Kelley was forced to resign in January," he says, "and the paper announced it would investigate his work, I closely examined both the Sbarro and Shapiro articles and immediately concluded that each was phony, as common sense suggested."
Schick points out that when the settler piece was published, "David Wilder of the Hebron community insisted that Shapiro didn't exist and the reported incident never happened, but he was ignored by USA Today."
While it may understandable that USA Today initially stood by its star reporter, says Schick, "it remains curious that even after Kelley's resignation, his scandal received much less attention than the ones involving Jayson Blair at The New York Times and Stephen Glass at The New Republic.
"After all, Kelley was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2002 and a five time nominee, and therefore a much more prominent reporter than either Blair or Glass, and his journalistic crimes of making up stories, plagiarizing articles published elsewhere, and scheming to cover up his actions were at least as serious as theirs. Only Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post has offered significant coverage. Most likely - in contrast to Blair and Glass who were in their 20's - Kelley was well known and well liked in the journalistic world and therefore immune from serious examination and criticism by his peers."