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October 21, 2003

More Easterimbroglio.

Daniel Radosh

It's now wonder Gregg Easterbrook is now trying to contain his whiney, they're all out to get me letter — is he channeling Michael Moore, or what? Let's take a closer look at it, shall we?

I am in trouble and need your help.
Who is "your"? We can't know for sure how many people got this e-mail, but one recipient was puffy Reaganite Steven Hayward who blogged it, a bit too hastily, on No Left Turns. For an editor at the putatively liberal New Republic, Easterbrook sure turns to some angry conservatives when he gets in a jam.

Most of you know that last week I wrote, in New Republic's unedited blog,
What does unedited have to do with anything? "Edit me before I libel the Jews again!"

three foolish and wrong sentences that sound anti-Semitic, especially out of context. I was wrong to have done this, and quickly apologized -- if you have not seen my apology, it is at tnr.com. And if you have seen the apology called in print half-hearted, please read it. I did not just apologize for careless wording, I said what I wrote was 'simply wrong.'
No, really, please read it. In GE's beloved "context," it's pretty plain that what he's admitting is "simply wrong" is precisely his "careless wording." As I've said before, I don't think GE was saying Jews are greedy (though the post had other major problems), but if he wasn't, what exactly, other than his wording, does he think was "simply wrong"?

Friday the New York Times ran a brief story, and I thought at the time that to apologize and then be slammed in the Times was a fitting punishment for my offense. But it's now getting much worse. Late yesterday the Anti-Defamation League issued a statement calling me 'totally bigoted.' This morning the Los Angeles Times contains an article extensively accusing me of anti-Semitism. The headline could be a parody of McCarthyism, if this were funny: 'If It Sounds Anti-Semitic, Maybe It Is.' The article asserts that the fact that I have for years belonged to one of the country's few joint Christian-Jewish congregations is -- proof of anti-Semitism.
Well, no, the article doesn't "assert" that this is "proof" of anything. What it says is, "Experienced readers will find it a bit like the old 'some of my best friends are' argument." There's a difference, and GE should by now learn to be careful about his sloppy writing, nu? And also, is the person who wrote this really the sameone who wrote in The Wall St. Journal, "Set aside the hypersensitivity of equating mere criticism with the darkness of McCarthyism. What's at work here is fundamental misunderstanding of the First Amendment. It guarantees a right to free speech, but hardly guarantees speech will be without cost." (Found on Roger Simon, of course).

Yesterday I was told to expect to be fired by ESPN. It hasn't happened yet, but seems likely.
Now it has. I'm with those who think this was silly. If anyone should have fired GE it's TNR (they could at least take away his blog), but what does ESPN have to do with this?

Friday the top officers of ESPN refused several orders from Michael Eisner, the head of Disney, that I be fired. By the end of the day it seemed likely they would give in.
Is that true? I wouldn't put it past Eisner, I guess, a notorious sumnabitch, but isn't it also possible that ESPN worried that it set a precedent by firing Rush and now had to be "fair"?

Yesterday I got from Frank Rich a set of emailed questions that reads like the prosecutor's indictment in the Kobe Bryant case. Rich dislikes New Republic for reasons unrelated to me. He may plan to take out his dislike for New Republic on me.
Rich also dislike antisemites, it should be noted, for reasons that have nothing to do with The New Republic. But more importantly, Frank Rich e-mails his questions? What the hell kind of reporting is that? Pick a phone, Frank!

Yesterday Fox News was running a crawl that said, 'New Repblic writer Gregg Easterbrook accused of anti-Semitism.' Saying only that I was accused.
What more should it have said? There's only so much you can fit on a crawl. I do find it an example of silly media-centricity that Fox found this important enough to put on the ticker, but I don't think that's GE's complaint.
All this I can deal with,
Not without a lot of whining, apparently.

but here is the bad part. My next book, The Progress Paradox, is due out in six weeks. (This book says nothing about religion.) I've sold the serial to Time magazine, and the early publicity reaction has been very favorable. There's a fighting chance this will be the first thing I've ever written that actually sells copies.
"Yesterday I was told by an ally within Disney corporate that Eisner has assigned people to try to destroy the book -- to get Time to drop the serial, to keep me off interview shows, even to get Random House to kill the book. In a published body of work that now extends to millions of words, I have written three foolish and wrong sentences.

A ratio, as The Muse notes that is rapidly closing.

Now I've not only lost reputation and half my income (ESPN): what matters to me most in all the world, my book writing, is in jeopardy at the worst possible time. And I'm up against one of the richest, most vindictive men in the world.
OK, I don't, of course, actually think GE is saying that The Jews are out to destroy him. And yet, it's hard to think that the person who wrote the above paragraph has really, as they say, internalized this part of his apology: "But accusing a Christian of adoring money above all else does not engage any history of ugly stereotypes. Accuse a Jewish person of this and you invoke a thousand years of stereotypes about that which Jews have specific historical reasons to fear."

Someone who is accused like this cannot proclaim his own innocence. How can I be the witness to my own character? But you can. I appeal to all of you as friends and colleagues to come to my aid. This is my sole hope.
Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi! Here's where the e-mail really gets pathetic. What's next, the U.S. military sending phony letters from grunts to justify the war in Iraq? What's really shabby is not just that GE wants to proclaim his own innocence while not seeming to do so, it's that this reveals that what GE posted in his public apology did not, in fact, represent his complete and entire thinking on the subject. He has something on his mind that he only wants to share with like-minded friends and allies, while he spews bullshit for the rest of us. This is not coming clean.

Contact anyone you know whom you think you can influence, and move fast because the attack against me is moving fast. All I have right now is friends, and all my hopes reside with you. Gregg
So now, a fair question: Did Jonathan Alter get this e-mail? Which of GE's defenders are coming to his aid because he begged, and which really wrote those letters from Kirkuk... or am I getting mixed up again?

Oh yeah, did GE ask PowerLine to take the letter down? Maybe Frank Rich can pose that question in a follow-up email. Stay tuned. Update: Easterbrook denies writing the e-mail.

Update: A friend, who will remain nameless for his own protection, writes, "Good points all around, but a world in which the entire brotherhood of humanity -- black and white, straight and gay, Jew and Gentile -- cannot call Michael Eisner rich and vindictive is not a world I want my children to grow up in."

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