Sunday, April 15, 2012

Anatomy of a Victory: The Importance of MJ Rosenberg's Ousting from Media Matters

by Jared Arluck

The anti-Israel echo chamber has always existed. For a while, this hateful ideology resonated in the blogosphere louder than it should have. Not anymore.

Renowned lawyer and Democrat Alan Dershowitz's insistence that Media Matters distance itself from anti-Israel advocate MJ Rosenberg has worked. Rosenberg, the controversial senior foreign policy fellow at Media Matters, was unceremoniously jettisoned from the organization last week because of his bigoted language aimed at American supporters of Israel.

Critics had been calling for Rosenberg's ouster for years without success. Rosenberg's writings were defended by powerful interests, and if anything, the frequency and ferocity of his attacks seemed to increase. His hasty exit represents an enormous win for supporters of Israel.

Removing Rosenberg from his perch as lead attack dog against Israel is no small feat. It is critical to understand the anatomy of Rosenberg's ouster. Alan Dershowitz, a respected Democrat, decided that enough was enough, and his campaign against Rosenberg and Media Matters has made all the difference.

The mainstream media (MSM) initially discredited new media from both the left and right. Forced to follow the news of the day instead of reporting it, the MSM were in denial. Arriving late to the game, the MSM rushed to legitimize alternate media sources, allowing ideologues like Rosenberg to slip through the cracks. Vetting is not the MSM's strength. Rosenberg's coining of the term "Israel Firster" to describe Jewish Americans' loyalties has been the focal point of the current controversy. MJ Rosenberg has accused American supporters of Israel of having dual loyalties, a canard used to alienate minorities for centuries. His decision to employ this despicable and divisive term was a purposeful attempt to delegitimize the narrative towards Israel.

Rosenberg's long-term future at Media Matters became tenuous only when Alan Dershowitz decided to take a moral stand against the vitriolic language used by Rosenberg against Israel. "I'm proud of whatever small role I played," Dershowitz declared in an interview Saturday with the Free Beacon: "It wouldn't surprise me if there were some calls to Media Matters from the White House." Further, Dershowitz declared that Rosenberg was "radioactive" and a "perennial liar" who "deserved what he got." It didn't take Rosenberg long to repudiate his own retreat and attempt to reframe it all as a victory. The notion that Rosenberg stepped down without a fight is not believable. His raison d'ĂȘtre is to apply relentless pressure on groups Media Matters opposes.

Rosenberg specializes in forcing people out of power, and getting him to step down is a huge accomplishment. He credits Media Matters with bringing down Glenn Beck. Had the thick skinned Rosenberg stepped down on his own accord, it would be akin to giving up. This is simply not in his DNA. What would cause him to martyr himself? The anatomy of this victory needs to be understood.

The victory did not stem from a sense of moral outrage, although that served as a catalyst. The reason Rosenberg was dismissed has to do with where the criticism was hurled from. Where it came from was the political left. Political views tend to be reinforced by like minds. The critique of Media Matters and Rosenberg was initially viewed through the lens of partisanship. The conscription of Alan Dershowitz, a respected insider of the Democratic Jewish left, changed the outcome of the story. Dershowitz's delivery of the message made the difference.

Surprisingly, not all liberal Jews are enamored with Alan Dershowitz; nevertheless, they do trust his genuine support of Israel. He has a sphere of influence in the Jewish community that crosses the boundaries of left and right. Dershowitz's role in the Democratic Party, coupled with his insistence that Rosenberg's philosophy was toxic, led to Rosenberg's ousting.

As an insider, Dershowitz's protestations effectively collapsed the groupthink mentality of the liberal left. Much like with a union, the party line could be broken only by an insider who spoke the truth. With solidarity intact, no external force could accomplish this feat. Dershowitz's role as whistleblower guaranteed that the message would be heard loud and clear.

Non-progressives would be well-served to remember this methodology in the future. When Dershowitz climbed on the bandwagon, the usual partisan rumblings stopped. Media Matters, with its close relationship to the White House, could no longer afford Rosenberg as a liability. The bigotry was now indefensible. With Alan Dershowitz promising not to relent, Media Matters and the White House had lost control of the narrative. MJ Rosenberg has been neutered, at least for the time being.

Politics of left and right often exist only in their respective echo chambers, with virtually no confluence. It takes a brave soul to stand up to the majority and speak the truth. For this, Alan Dershowitz should be commended.

Rosenberg's crude yet effective propagandizing won't necessarily stop. Let us hope that Rosenberg's future rants will occur in a much smaller chamber. Rosenberg insists that he will remain relevant without an affiliation to Media Matters. Maybe he should ask Keith Olbermann how that has worked out for him.

Jared Arluck


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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