Possible Journalistic Malpractice

Max Blumenthal, in a story about how Israeli “occupation forces” supposedly taught American police officers how to crack down on the “Occupy Wall Street” movement in the U.S., quotes Karen Greenberg, the director of the Fordham School of Law’s Center on National Security, thusly:


After 9/11 we reached out to the Israelis on many fronts and one of those fronts was torture,” Greenberg told me. “The training in Iraq and Afghanistan on torture was Israeli training. There’s been a huge downside to taking our cue from the Israelis and now we’re going to spread that into the fabric of everyday American life? It’s counter-terrorism creep. And it’s exactly what you could have predicted would have happened.

A stunned Jeffrey Goldberg called Greenberg and asked if she really said that. And she says she didn’t. “I never made such a statement,” she told him. “I’ve never seen any proof of this. I told him I had heard a story out there about this issue, but that he should look into it and see if he could find evidence, because I have no proof of this charge. You have to be particularly careful when it comes to torture, you have to be careful not to overreach. He was looking for corroboration but I told him I didn’t have any.”

This is the sort of journalistic malpractice that ends careers. I’m not going to pronounce Blumenthal guilty just yet. There are two sides to each story. Maybe he has a tape and can prove his honesty. If he does, he’d better produce it.


Just so you know, I tape all my interviews. If anyone ever accuses me of fabricating a quote, I’ll prove them wrong. No one ever has accused me of fabricating a quote, though, most likely because I’ve never fabricated a quote.

Journalists who feel tempted to lie should think really really hard about the long list of their busted and shamed former colleagues who thought they could get away with it and found themselves blackballed instead.

UPDATE: Blumenthal stands by his quote, but makes no mention of a tape. “I am not sure why Greenberg would deny the statement she made to me on the record,” he writes, “unless she was intimidated by Goldberg and the pro-Israel forces he represents.”

He wrote this defense of himself in Al Akhbar, a pro-Hezbollah newspaper in Lebanon.

UPDATE: Mother Jones, hardly a bastion of right-wing Likudnikism, is piling on Blumenthal.


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