The Forward, a 119-year-old Jewish newspaper and news site, has declared a “Trumpatorium” beginning Tuesday morning in response to Donald Trump supporters leveling anti-Semitic slurs at journalists covering the 2016 election.
“Online bullying is a non-partisan activity — both the far left and the far right are quite good at it — but the virulent anti-Semitism many journalists experience today comes from what is known as the ‘alt-right,’ shadowy white supremacists who mainly hide behind the anonymity of Twitter to traffic in horrible Holocaust imagery and directly threaten Jews,” editor-in-chief Jane Eisner wrote Monday.
Launched in 1897 as a Yiddish-language daily newspaper, the Forward remains an influential voice on issues in the Jewish community, though doesn't have as large a reach in politics as national media outlets covering the ins and outs of the campaign each day. So the paper's 24-hour absence from the Donald Trump beat won't be as noticeable as, say, the New York Times or CNN ignoring the presumptive Republican nominee.
Still, Eisner's admittedly "symbolic" gesture could shine a light on the barrage of slurs that Jewish journalists -- or those perceived to be Jewish -- have received this election cycle. The Anti-Defamation League announced earlier this month it would investigate such harassment of journalists and set up a task force that included Columbia Journalism School dean Steve Coll, Medill Journalism School dean Brad Hamm, former New Republic literary editor Leon Wieseltier, and Julia Ioffe, who writes for Politico Magazine, HuffPost’s Highline and GQ.
Ioffe faced anti-Semitic attacks after profiling Melania Trump, who suggested the writer provoked such abuse. Ioffe’s not alone, as other prominent journalists have grappled with an uptick of similar attacks during Trump’s race for the White House. Jonathan Weisman, a New York Times deputy editor, recently quit Twitter following repeated attacks while The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg co-opted an online meme, using parentheses to identify someone as Jewish, to defuse its power.
Eisner noted that Forward columnists Bethany Mandel and Jay Michaelson have also “been the subjects of terrible personal attacks for their totally legitimate criticisms of Trump’s policies and pronouncements.” She wrote that Trump "appears to have done nothing to minimize or condemn" the attacks even if he can't be blamed for what his supporters write.
The Trump campaign has gone to unprecedented lengths to control the press during the election cycle, from restricting journalists’ ability to report at events to refusing press credentials to numerous outlets, including The Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, Politico and The Washington Post.
Such restrictions have come as the Republican candidate was covered obsessively since jumping in the race a year ago. Eisner wrote that the "Trumpatorium" also serves as a moment to reflect on the media’s role in boosting Trump's candidacy.
“We gave him what seemed like unlimited air time, ignoring the old rules of fairness and balance,” she wrote. "We let him do what he does best: define the world in his terms, civic consequences be damned.”
Read Eisner’s full column here.