Bending the truth to slur Orthodox Jews

Noah Feldman has a lot of explaining to do. The Harvard Law School professor published an article in the New York Times Magazine slamming Orthodox Judaism,  taking as its departure point the cropping of Feldman and his Korean-American wife from a picture run in the alumni bulletin of the Mainmonides School, the Orthodox yeshiva he attended in Brookline, MA. Both Richard Baehr and Ralph M. Lieberman took issue with his approach and the journalistic ethics of the Times in publishing such material.

Now it turns out that there is a bit of a scandal underlying the article, which created a clearly misleading impression of what transpired. And both the author and the New York Times knew that they were misleading readers in order to create a falsely unfavorable impression of the Maimonides School.

The Jewish Week of New York uncovered the scandal, and Scott Johnson of Powerline brought it to our attention.

From JW:
Noah Feldman, who ignited a firestorm of criticism last week with his pointed attack on Modern Orthodoxy in The New York Times Magazine, admitted this week that he learned before publication of his article that he in fact was not intentionally cropped out of his reunion photograph.

In the article, "Orthodox Paradox," Feldman, a Harvard Law School professor, asserts that he was erased from a newsletter's photograph by his former yeshiva, the Maimonides School in Brookline, Mass., because he was standing alongside his non-Jewish girlfriend. The reunion anecdote led off the story in a dramatic way and the image of Feldman and his wife allegedly being stricken from the photo appeared central to his feelings of being left out.

The photographer, Lenny Eisenberg, told The Jewish Week Monday that he had difficulty capturing as many as 60 reunion participants within a single frame. Eisenberg ended up taking several shots from one side, then the other, and several people on the far side - not just Feldman and his fiancée - happened to be out of the picture when it finally appeared in the newsletter.
Feldman saw contact sheets of the photographer's work 2 weeks before his article was published and knew the truth, but didn't submit a rewrite to the Times because,
"They had several photos to choose from and they chose one that I wasn't in. There's no question that one could offer other explanations for what happened," other than that it was intentional. "It's not as if [the photo] was an outlying event. It fit right in with the other things [refusing to print his lifecycle notices]. This was a memoir of my experience."
Now I am not a distinguished professor at Harvard Law School, but this sounds a lot like deliberately creating a false impression, albeit by very careful phrasing that avoids an outright lie while leaving a false impression. Maybe that's within the law as Professor Feldman understands it. But however the law defines it, the moral category into which the brilliant professor places himself is reasonably clear.

But it gets worse. The Times also knew about the fact that the photo was not cropped. They contacted the photographer of the event, Larry Eisenberg, and:

Eisenberg, who is now based in New York, said the Times "paid my way to go back to [his Boston studio] and find the negative. They wanted to run the [reunion] picture to illustrate" Feldman's claim of being discriminated against because of his relationship with a non-Jew. Eisenberg returned with the photo but the Times opted not to publish it, he said, when it became obvious that there was no cropping but simply an overflowing of reunion participants beyond the camera's range.

"It's not like they could show that the only two people not in the picture were Noah and his girlfriend," said Eisenberg.
So the Times will bend the truth in order to create an unfavorable impression of Orthodox Jews. And that, of course, is understandable. Orthodox Jews vote Republican far more often than other Jews.Like Evangelical Christians, they still are attached to the "God-thing" and have not shifted allegiance to the new secular orthodoxy. Giving four pages of the Sunday magazine to a dishonest attack on the faith is just par for the course.

Noah Feldman has a lot of explaining to do. The Harvard Law School professor published an article in the New York Times Magazine slamming Orthodox Judaism,  taking as its departure point the cropping of Feldman and his Korean-American wife from a picture run in the alumni bulletin of the Mainmonides School, the Orthodox yeshiva he attended in Brookline, MA. Both Richard Baehr and Ralph M. Lieberman took issue with his approach and the journalistic ethics of the Times in publishing such material.

Now it turns out that there is a bit of a scandal underlying the article, which created a clearly misleading impression of what transpired. And both the author and the New York Times knew that they were misleading readers in order to create a falsely unfavorable impression of the Maimonides School.

The Jewish Week of New York uncovered the scandal, and Scott Johnson of Powerline brought it to our attention.

From JW:
Noah Feldman, who ignited a firestorm of criticism last week with his pointed attack on Modern Orthodoxy in The New York Times Magazine, admitted this week that he learned before publication of his article that he in fact was not intentionally cropped out of his reunion photograph.

In the article, "Orthodox Paradox," Feldman, a Harvard Law School professor, asserts that he was erased from a newsletter's photograph by his former yeshiva, the Maimonides School in Brookline, Mass., because he was standing alongside his non-Jewish girlfriend. The reunion anecdote led off the story in a dramatic way and the image of Feldman and his wife allegedly being stricken from the photo appeared central to his feelings of being left out.

The photographer, Lenny Eisenberg, told The Jewish Week Monday that he had difficulty capturing as many as 60 reunion participants within a single frame. Eisenberg ended up taking several shots from one side, then the other, and several people on the far side - not just Feldman and his fiancée - happened to be out of the picture when it finally appeared in the newsletter.
Feldman saw contact sheets of the photographer's work 2 weeks before his article was published and knew the truth, but didn't submit a rewrite to the Times because,
"They had several photos to choose from and they chose one that I wasn't in. There's no question that one could offer other explanations for what happened," other than that it was intentional. "It's not as if [the photo] was an outlying event. It fit right in with the other things [refusing to print his lifecycle notices]. This was a memoir of my experience."
Now I am not a distinguished professor at Harvard Law School, but this sounds a lot like deliberately creating a false impression, albeit by very careful phrasing that avoids an outright lie while leaving a false impression. Maybe that's within the law as Professor Feldman understands it. But however the law defines it, the moral category into which the brilliant professor places himself is reasonably clear.

But it gets worse. The Times also knew about the fact that the photo was not cropped. They contacted the photographer of the event, Larry Eisenberg, and:

Eisenberg, who is now based in New York, said the Times "paid my way to go back to [his Boston studio] and find the negative. They wanted to run the [reunion] picture to illustrate" Feldman's claim of being discriminated against because of his relationship with a non-Jew. Eisenberg returned with the photo but the Times opted not to publish it, he said, when it became obvious that there was no cropping but simply an overflowing of reunion participants beyond the camera's range.

"It's not like they could show that the only two people not in the picture were Noah and his girlfriend," said Eisenberg.
So the Times will bend the truth in order to create an unfavorable impression of Orthodox Jews. And that, of course, is understandable. Orthodox Jews vote Republican far more often than other Jews.Like Evangelical Christians, they still are attached to the "God-thing" and have not shifted allegiance to the new secular orthodoxy. Giving four pages of the Sunday magazine to a dishonest attack on the faith is just par for the course.