‘Boston Globe’ Ombud Backs Alterman in Battle Against the Paper

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By: E&P Staff

Eric Alterman, the columnist and MSNBC blogger, won support in his battle against The Boston Globe from the paper?s ombudsman, Christine Chinlund, yesterday.

The trouble start on Feb. 7 when frequent Globe contributor Cathy Young penned an op-ed piece attacking Alterman, who is Jewish, for his alleged pro-Arab views, which, she said, ?coming from a non-Jew, would be clearly seen as anti-Semitic.” She also said maybe this was a case where the label “self-hating” Jew was justified.

Alterman responded that Young had misrepresented his views and yanked quotes out of context. He asked the Globe to retract the column, apologize, present the full text of his original comments, and publish letters of support from the Jewish community.

?The Globe declined the first three, but did publish a letter of support, as well as a 170-word defense from Alterman himself — much shorter than submitted, but clear,? Chinlund wrote.

?Displeased, he declared ?war? on the Globe, and posted his case (with related correspondence) on his MSNBC website, Altercation,” Chinlund continued. “That in turn prompted outraged e-mail to this office on his behalf.?

But what did Chinlund think about this? ?Young’s column, as written, was not up to op-ed page standards,? she declared. ?Suggesting that Alterman is a ?self-hating? Jew was ad hominem and inappropriate. What’s acceptable online, where the aggrieved can respond quickly and in kind, is not necessarily OK on the op-ed page. The column was also blog-like in its narrow, personal focus — not worthy of an opinion page where readers expect (and usually get) thoughtful analysis and insight.

?The Globe acknowledged the situation by publishing the two letters of support as well as a third letter. It would have been good to also provide access to Alterman’s original text so readers could see the basis, or lack thereof, for Young’s charge. But it was cut because it contained extraneous material. Here’s the link: www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6968346/#050215.?

In an e-mail to E&P, Alterman noted that he appreciated the ombudsman?s column but added, ?surely someone at the Globe could take responsibility for what was published in its pages and I would appreciate responses from whomever that turned out to be.?

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