This is a cross-post by Lee Smith at Tablet Magazine
When the comments on the blogs of Stephen Walt, Andrew Sullivan, Philip Weiss, and Glenn Greenwald turn ugly, who should be held accountable? Plus: A Jew-baiter’s lexicon.
Last week this column  argued that major media organizations were mainstreaming the opinions of anti-Semitic commenters in the hopes of boosting traffic on their websites. Some of my critics mistakenly believed that I was accusing specific journalists and academics—Stephen Walt, Andrew Sullivan, Philip Weiss, and Glenn Greenwald—of being anti-Semites. Some also charged that I had smeared these writers by incorrectly holding them accountable for the hate that appears in the comments section of their blogs.
These detractors missed the point of my article, which had nothing to do with the indiscernible beliefs of individuals; rather, I was instead illustrating that these pundits, their audiences, and the major media companies hosting their blogs, are complicit in the common work of mainstreaming the kind of anti-Semitic language, ideas, and discourse that were once confined to extremist hate sites on the far right.
Let’s start with a very recent example: After I contacted Foreign Policy’s Editor-in-Chief Susan Glasser for comment before publication of last week’s column, FP.com quickly excised dozens of the most egregiously anti-Semitic comments that stuck to Walt’s posts. Perhaps they should have also vetted some of the links that Walt himself embeds for the edification of his readers. Consider this recent post  where Walt has inserted a link under the name Ariel Sharon, which leads to a 2002 article  on the Media Monitors Network website:
The name Safire, as in William Safire of the New York Times, is a name they recognize well at the State Department. He is one of the high priests of Sulzberger’s New York Times empire which has a franchise to dictate terms to the State Department. Of course, it is Safire himself who appears to be taking in dictation work these days from his old pal, Ariel Sharon. Before you read on, note that the Boston Globe is also a publication owned by Sulzberger. Is there a civil war breaking out among the Yiddish Supremacists? Or is Sulzberger trying to deflect some of the damage that is bound to come his way as a result of transforming his media empire into just another corner of the Israeli Lobby? Who cares? Let Sulzberger explain his shadow government’s antics.