Skins are getting thinner while racist and anti-semitic trolls have been getting more brazen. This is driving changes in journalism and social media outlets like Twitter.
Some are blaming Donald Trump’s attacks on the media and his seeming reluctance to denounce the behavior of some of his supporters. for New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman for example received an envelope full of threatening, anti-semitic literature after she and other reporters were “doxxed” online and their home addresses were revealed. Erik Wemple reports that Politico is trying to assuage the fears of some of its employees.
Politico reporters haven’t been excluded from this utter barbarity. “I’m sure you’ve seen the recent reports and social media posts about journalists and media types receiving threatening correspondence. Several of our reporters and editors received similar letters,” notes Brad Dayspring, Politico’s vice president of communications, in response to an inquiry from the Erik Wemple Blog. The letters, notes Dayspring, are “in line with” what Haberman experienced.
This morning, Politico editor Carrie Budoff Brown and John Harris, publisher and editor in chief, sent a note to staff with this reassurance: “Over the last week, it’s been reported that some journalists and media executives have received threatening correspondence, both at their place of work and to their home. Your personal safety is of the utmost importance to us, and we thought you should be aware that POLITICO has procedures in place designed to protect our employees.”
It’s not just reporters for left leaning outlets who are being affected. Similar things are happening to journalists and commentators on the right, especially if they opine critically about Donald trump.
Bethany Mandel writes at The Federalist that the anti-semitism has always been there and that it is only getting noticed now because it can be associated with a Republican and his supporters.
For the rest of us Jews, especially on the conservative side of the aisle, it’s been somewhat amusing to see dozens of journalists file breathless stories about anti-Semitism they, rightly or wrongly, perceived out of the Trump campaign and supporter base over the last year.
The increased focus on anti-Semitism has, of course, only been borne out of the fact that the supposed offender and his supporters have a capital R after their names. Would the media have been so concerned about an outbreak of hatred against a religious group had it originated out of a Democratic campaign?
Of course not, but Trump hasn’t really put much of an effort into denouncing the hate espoused by some of his supporters.
Now that the election is over and Donald Trump has prevailed, it’s anyone’s guess if his alt-right anti-Semitic supporters will disappear back down the Russian troll army rabbit hole from which they came or if his son Donald Trump Jr. will stop tweeting white supremacist memes. Even if these elements don’t disappear with Trump’s continued silence about their presence, the danger of Trump’s brand of passive acceptance of anti-Semitism cannot be ignored.
In fact, the President-elect acts as if he is completely unaware that it is going on. During the campaign, he and his sons were observed retweeting pro-Trump messages that came from anti-semitic and white supremacist sources. Whether that’s due to ignorance or a reluctance to rein in the attack dogs is unclear. During his interview with 60 Minutes, Trump pleaded ignorance.
When “60 Minutes” correspondent Lesley Stahl asked Trump if he had heard such reports, he said he had not.
“I am very surprised to hear that,” he said. “I hate to hear that, I mean I hate to hear that.”
When pressed, Trump said he may have seen one or two instances.
“Do you want to say anything to those people?” Stahl asked.
“I would say don’t do it, that’s terrible, ’cause I’m gonna bring this country together,” Trump said.
“They’re harassing Latinos, Muslims . . .” Stahl added.
“I am so saddened to hear that. And I say: Stop it,” Trump told her. “If it, if it helps. I will say this, and I will say right to the cameras: Stop it.”
It’s easy to be skeptical after eight years of Obama claiming to have only heard problematic news on television like everyone else.
Twitter is undertaking some changes to combat the rise in abusive tweeting. Some are saying that their failure to address this already is directly affecting the company’s bottom line. They are rolling out new features that will allow users to more easily mute
Twitter is also going to give users broader power to report “hateful conduct,” regardless of whether they’re a target or a bystander. And the company’s support teams will get special training on “cultural and historical contextualization of hateful conduct.” The company has faced criticism for its lagging response to reports of abuse.
After seeing the biased way Facebook has been policing contented posted by users, I’m not optimistic about Twitter’s ability to identify hateful conduct.
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