Machlokes / Controversy

Jewish World Review July 7, 2000 / 4 Tamuz, 5760

AND YOU SHOULD BE, TOO! -- JEFF JACOBY, one of America's most outspoken and effective wordsmiths, has been put on a four month suspension without pay by the hyper-P.C. Boston Globe. His "crime"? He retold a chapter from American history in a way others have retold it since its birth. He used material that was in the public domain, after VERIFYING what he wrote.

He, did not, however, attribute these facts to other authors. In essence, Jeff is being punished for not stating that others have written, spoken, and told the story of America's birth.

Were some turns-of-phrase Jeff used similar to other writers? Maybe. But there are only so many variations of words that can be used to describe factual events.

Jacoby's column, in and of itself, cannot be described as a copy of other folks' works. It is clearly in his own style and "voice" --- fresh and punchy, yet full of emotion with a special air of warmth. And, no doubt, the essay brought a tear to even his staunchest critics.

Here is what Jeff's punishment is really all about.

In the past, Jeff had the audacity to question frequently, and with eloquence, what is more and more becoming the accepted norm in this era of moral-revisionism. His views are conservative and based upon his value-system as a Sabbath observant Jew. It is no secret that some of his co-workers -- "colleagues" is hardly the apt word -- at the Globe wanted him purged, as documented by several media accounts. And as Rod Dreher recently illustrated in the Weekly Standard, the Globe has clearly chosen sides in this culture war. AND I DO NOT USE THAT TERM LIGHTLY.

Jeff is young, married, and has a child about to start school. Make no mistake about it, four months without income is not the equivalent of doing detention. In journalism, one is worth only as much as one's credibility. Jeff's enemies are attempting to destroy his ability to practice journalism. They are attempting to destroy him professionally. True, a wise man once said, that you can judge a man by his enemies. But nobody wants to test that adage.

Perhaps the Globe, which already dealt with this issue in an Editor's Note earlier in the week, is overreacting because of its experience with Mike Barnicle and another former columnist, who committed major journalistic felonies. But there is not the remotest comparison between their serious ethical sins and the fact that Jeff's column did not include a line stating the obvious.

Are you outraged yet?

According to the Globe, Jeff is also being punished for -- get this -- circulating his column to friends and family before it wound up on the Globe's site, which offers the ability to "e-mail a friend." (How lame can you get!?)

Attached to the Independence Day column Jeff sent his friends and family was a note pointing out that other versions of the same story spreading on the web contained errors and exaggerations. His version, in other words, was not a mere re-write of something he plucked off the 'Net.

Jeff did nothing to damage The Globe's reputation, but the New York Times-owned paper has done much to damage his.

The Globe's phone number is 617.929.2000. The fax is: 617.929.2098, Letters to the Ombudsman: Click here. Phoning and faxing (It's only about 10 cents per minute) have more of an impact, we've been told.

PLEASE keep your letters CIVIL, despite the temptation not to.

I never, EVER use JWR for appeals other than for this webzine. But let me ask you this, dear reader, if you were in Jeff's position, would you not want help from folks who care?

Binyamin L. Jolkovsky,
Editor in Chief,


An Open Letter From Jeff Jacoby To His Friends

John Leo: What Jacoby had to deal With

Lawrence Henry: For Jeff Jacoby, a Window Closes, a Door Opens


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