After announcing his departure from Media Matters last Friday in a final rant at the liberal group’s “Political Correction” blog, claiming that his “presence is being used in an effort to shut Media Matters up,” it seems MJ Rosenburg wasn’t done ranting.
In a follow-up piece at The Huffington Post on Saturday, he opened with the following:
A day after leaving Media Matters For America, I feel a need for an explanation beyond what I posted at the MMFA site. It was provoked by all the right-wing "pro-Israel" types who don't believe I quit and insist I was fired because I attacked the dual holy of holies: Israeli government policies and the Israel lobby.
And in typical form, Rosenberg then launched into a tirade against all those “right wing pro-Israel types” and their “Israel lobby” who are just dead set on shutting everybody up. It was difficult not to see the irony of a Media Matters employee bemoaning all the people supposedly trying to shut them up. But lost the irony was on MJ Rosenberg.
Over the last year, Breitbart.com has catalogued numerous instances of Rosenberg’s over-the-top rhetoric against Israel, and against anyone with whom he disagrees on the subject. Oddly, it’s unified some unlikely bedfellows, conservatives and liberals alike.
Rosenberg, a former Senior Foreign Policy Fellow for Media Matters Action Network, frequently drew the most fire for his controversial use of “Israel Firster,” a derogatory term that connotes an American Jew whose loyalty lies first with Israel. It is largely considered by most to have anti-Semitic undertones and was not generally commonplace in the mainstream until more recent years. But as Media Matters’s head foreign affairs writer, Rosenberg had grown accustomed to regularly unleashing rants, in blog postings and on Twitter, that employed the term.
In May of 2011, Andrew Breitbart decried Rosenberg’s anti-Israel vitriol:
Media Matters Senior Foreign Policy Fellow MJ Rosenberg unleashed a stream of anti-Israel vitriol today, calling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a “terrorist” and accusing pro-Israel activists of being un-American.
As Netanyahu gave a stern but statesmanlike response to President Barack Obama’s speech yesterday, Rosenberg could not restrain his hatred. It was the latest, and the worst, anti-Israel attack by Media Matters’ foreign affairs head.
And last December, Politico’s Ben Smith also reported that writers were pushing anti-Israel policies at left-wing Media Matters and the Center for American Progress’ Think Progress blog, causing a divide in the Democratic Party. Smith noted Rosenberg’s vitriol in particular.
The daily battle is waged in Media Matters’ emails, on CAP’s blogs, Middle East Progress and ThinkProgress and most of all on Twitter, where a Media Mattters official, MJ Rosenberg, regularly heaps vitriol on those who disagree as “Iraq war neocon liar” (the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg) or having “dual loyalties” to the U.S. and Israel (the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin). And while the Center for American Progress tends to walk a more careful line, warm words for Israel can be hard to find on its blogs.
That piece triggered additional harsh criticism from outlets like Tablet and The Simon Wiesenthal Center. And earlier this year, liberal Alan Dershowitz declared war on Media Matters, after expressing his disgust over Rosenberg’s statements in his prior warnings to the Democratic Party and Obama.
Breitbart.com continued to expose Media Matters and Rosenberg’s anti-Israel vitriol. We looked at their list of donors and asked if the Jewish foundations supporting Media Matters were even aware that they were funding the propaganda site’s anti-Semitism. We cited post after post, tweet after tweet, even as Media Matters grasped at anything to neutralize us, without success. Instead, Media Matters just dug in its heels further.
In March, Rosenberg finally backed down from his use of “Israel Firster,” stating that it had “proven to be a distraction.” He did not however, denounce any of his other contemptuous rhetoric for Israel or his bullying demeanor against those who disagreed with him. In fact, that behavior continued.
The following week, it was revealed in a series of Daily Caller posts as part of a continuing Media Matters expose’ that Rosenberg made anti-American remarks two years earlier at an Al Jazeera forum on social media in Doha. Breitbart.com’s Dan Riehl reported:
Rosenberg claimed the U.S. deliberately bombed Al Jazeera's Baghdad news bureau. Rosenberg also pronounced Al Jazeera a "mainstream" news organization, said Fox News was dangerous, host Sean Hannity was a "right-wing liar" and appeared to celebrate Barack Obama's aloof treatment of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the leader of something less than a unique and strong U.S. ally - according to a Daily Caller report by Jamie Weinstein.
And less than one week after that, Breitbart.com reported that Rosenberg was forced to apologize for going off half-cocked on Matt Drudge, after falsely accusing Drudge of running a “fake” photo of 17 year old shooting victim Trayvon Martin “for incitement purposes.” He called him a “racist demagogue” and stated that Drudge “has done more to debase American news coverage than anyone in history of country.” Rosenberg later admitted he’d made a mistake, but his apology to Drudge was not exactly sincere.
“Mixed up Drudge photo of Trayvon w Michelle Malkin's. Malkin's is an admitted fake. Drudge? Don't know. Sorry.” That tweet was immediately followed by another saying, “Malkin apologized for fake #Trayvon photo. I apologize for mixing up her photo with one Drudge used.”
MJ Rosenberg is not alone is his views of Israel’s supporters on the right. It has become the standard at Media Matters to label all supporters who don’t happen to share precisely their view as the “Israel lobby.” When not criticizing the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), more often than not, Media Matters appears to be referencing anyone on the right who supports Israel, at times even inserting unnecessary reference to “millionaire” supporters.
While the term might not immediately be considered derogatory, in context, it’s usually apparent that it’s not meant in a positive way. A search on its Political Correction blog for the term “Israel lobby” turns up over a hundred posts.
In its entirety, Media Matters has embraced the “Israel Firster” term, as well as the “Bibi right or wrong” crowd. The use of “hate funders” has appeared on the site for those they deemed too critical of Islam. And one post was simply over-the-top in its criticism of Commentary editor Rachel Decter Abrams, who was unfairly portrayed as hating gays simply for mentioning the word three times in a post. Without any sincere proof of his claim, Rosenberg himself described Abrams this way on Media Matters’ Political Correction blog: "She despises them [gay people] and is quick to suggest that any critic of Israel must be gay, which, in her lexicon, is the greatest insult."
It appears the anti-Israel vitriol of MJ Rosenberg finally became too much of a liability for Media Matters. While the criticism of his rhetoric and its reflection upon the liberal website has been a constant focus of attention on Breitbart.com, in the end, that criticism became widespread and bi-partisan. Liberals finally started taking notice as well, and Media Matters acted. MJ Rosenberg penned his last post for Media Matters on April 6th.
It remains to be seen whether funders and supporters will follow Rosenberg to his new endeavor as he strikes out anew with his own website. Nonetheless, Media Matters will no doubt continue to embrace such stereotyping and insults on its sites. Breitbart.com has been a vigilant force for truth and fairness from the beginning, and will continue to be, both with MJ Rosenberg and Media Matters. And if the last year is any indication, it appears we may not be alone in that effort.