Mark Pellegrino is an American actor of film and television, best known for his work as Lucifer in Supernatural, Paul Bennett in Dexter, and Jacob in Lost. He is co-founder of The American Capitalist Party.
Itamar Zohar of Ha’aretz is a bad journalist. Why do I say that? Let’s look at it: One of the definitions of journalism, according to Merriam-Webster is:
writing characterized by a direct presentation of facts or description of events without an attempt at interpretation. AKA objectivity.
In other words, the practitioner of the journalistic arts should aim to get at the (objective) truth without letting his own prejudices cloud his presentation of what IS. The truth. In our post modernist world, a novel thing. But novel or no, a paper’s (and a journalist’s) reputation rises or falls based on how closely it (and he) can be associated with the value of objectivity. The very structure of a newspaper demonstrates this connection of legitimacy with objectivity via the conscientious separation of that which constitutes ‘news’, and that which is opinion.
If the very definition of journalism implies objectivity and the very structure of a newspaper is designed to highlight objectivity as a major value we could say that objectivity and journalism are, well, synonymous. We could also say that a good journalist is one who practices the virtue of objectivity.
So what would a bad journalist be? Presumably, we would look to the opposite of everything we listed above and apply a vice where there was formerly a virtue. If a good journalist is objective, a bad one would be subjective. Facts would only matter insofar as they served as a framework to hang the journalist’s deeper cause or angst or opinions on. Where a good journalist provides a context (because truth is contextual), the bad one would dispense with it. Context, to the bad journalist, is an obstacle to his story, which is, in essence, a concretization of his own mental map in narrative form. Since the bad journalist’s goal is to create an overall impression (which supports his cynical narrative), he cannot allow the reader to come to his own conclusions, and would, therefore, evaluate the facts for him (either in the form of hyperbolic praise or in cutting insults, smears and insinuations). The bad journalist is a manipulator whose agenda trumps the truth.
A bad journalist is one of the worst traitors to values there can be. Like a cop who uses his status as a protector to steal, or a priest who uses his moral authority to molest the young, the bad journalist uses his place as the standard-bearer of FACT to manipulate public opinion to his own purposes.
To pass off a lie as if it’s a fact or to slander the good, is an unspeakable evil. An evil that a bad journalist is uniquely capable of committing on a mass scale. Now this brings me to Itamar Zohar. Itamar heard there was a story – Some celebrities had been invited to tour Israel under the auspices of an organization called American Voices in Israel and the Minister of Security – and he decided to write about it. The result? A superficial and mean-spirited hit piece attacking the program (in a faux expose) and impugning the character, motivations, and status of the people involved. This all without ever having interviewed a single one of the participants; Without ever witnessing the interactions between the tour guides and the celebs; without investigating why such a program may be vital to Israel or if there have been tangible benefits resulting from the program. No. These would’ve been the actions of a curious mind. A mind devoted to facts, and interested in objectivity. In other words, they would’ve been the actions of a good journalist. Had Itamar been that kind of journalist, the truthful, objective kind, here’s what he would’ve found by blessing us with his presence:
First, he would’ve found that a variety of reasons motivated each entertainer’s reason for being there: Some were there on a religious pilgrimage. Some were agnostics on the conflict over Israel and wanted to know more and see it first hand. Some were apolitical and just wanted to satisfy their curiosity. Some, like me, have been reading about the region for years and are intensely activist in our support of the only free country in the Middle East.
Second, he would’ve found that this diversity of motivation led to a diversity of opinion, which in turn led to many spirited discussions between the actors themselves AND the guides. He would’ve found that no topics were shied away from, and that a variety of views were represented amongst the staff. Far from the indoctrination implied in the article, staff members were split on various controversial topics and did not hide it.
Third, he may have found that our social media reach is quite large. Far larger, in fact, than the international reach of his paper AND sister paper (especially when considering the exponential way news is spread from our followers to our follower’s followers). When taken against past visitors this amounts to a vast global reach via passionate and engaged fan bases. That’s considerably more influence than Itamar could ever hope to have.
Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, he would’ve wondered at the need for such a program which, in effect, does an end around the traditional media, and appeals directly to the people. He would’ve discovered, after the cognitive dissonance subsided, that the need comes from journalists like him. Journalists who scandalize the truth in favor of their narratives. Who write scurrilous articles premised on their own preconceptions. Journalists who have used their monopoly on information to deceive the people of the world and create impressions that, once ingrained, are extremely difficult to reverse. (For a full view of media bias against Israel, read the informative book David and Goliath by Shraga Simmons). Journalists like you, Itamar, who are too arrogant, incurious, or lazy to go looking for the truth but write screeds instead.