Anthony Weiner ‘Secret Muslim’ Story Pulled; Journalism Undergoing ‘Hamsterization’


In the age of publishing directly to the Internet, often with little or no editing, sometimes embarrassing things end up underneath the logo of otherwise legitimate news organizations. Though where the Washington Times fits on the legitimacy scale is arguable (see: Sun Myung Moon), a post on their website today claimed Anthony Weiner secretly converted to Islam; the ridiculousness has since been pulled from the official site, though of course it lives on because this is the Internet. What role did editors have in such an egregiously untrue piece? (Hint: It wasn’t none!) Find out inside Press Clips, our daily media column, plus bits and pieces on AOL, the state of journalism (!), and the latest in the Grantland vs. Deadspin battle.

The Latest Secret Muslim: Joining Barack Obama (a Christian) in the Secret Muslim Rightwing Nightmare Collective Imagination is the recently disgraced Anthony Weiner (a proud Jew), at least in the mind of Eliana Benador, who published the since-pulled piece in the Washington TimesCommunities section. (She’s done
this sort of thing before.)

Talking Points Memo quotes the following from her fantasy:

The Imam of New York has stated: “I would tell her [Huma] to be a little bit patient. In our book, if you think your wife, or husband, is doing something unacceptable, you start by counseling her.”

Given the defense articulated by the Imam, which would be offered only for a Muslim man, we must believe this opportunity to remove this Muslim woman from a union with a non-believer would be quickly taken. Therefore we must consider that Mr. Weiner *may* have converted to Islam, because if he did not, we have to consider the unlikely, that being that Ms. Abedin has abandoned her Muslim faith, even while she still practices.

Washington Times manager Jacquie Kubin told TPM that she approved the article for the Communities section, but was forced to take it down by editors at the paper proper.

“It was not reviewed or approved by the Washington Times editorial staff,” Kubin said.

But most surprising is that this was not the slip of some amateurs — work was done on this! “I looked at her piece and we went through three days of revisions. I recognized that Ms. Benador has a very strong opinion and I tried to make sure that the article reflected things I could verify. She had worked it through to the point that what she had said — from her viewpoint — was defensible.” It was the “backlash” that finally got the piece removed.

Hungry, Hungry Hamsters: Speaking of journalism, perhaps some of the ugliness we encounter on the internet is in part because of the ongoing “hamsterization” of the trade, in which an “ever growing set of digital duties” makes life hard for writers and reporters.

The FCC’s new Information Needs of Communities report states that cause of things like Twitter, Facebook, blogging, etc., “additional responsibilities–and having to learn the new technologies to execute them–are time-consuming, and come at a cost,” with professionals that have to “typically face rolling deadlines as they post to their newspaper’s website before, and after, writing print stories.” ‘Round and ’round we go on “The Hamster Wheel.”

In Palin We Trust: Though we had a few reservations about whether the search of Sarah Palin’s government emails really required all that manpower, we didn’t lash out. Her supporters did, however, by hacking the company that helped MSNBC place the messages in a searchable online archive.

The company’s Twitter was taken over by some true believers, who dispatched messages like “Emails: Gov. Palin a Hard-Working Public Servant” and “Email Witch-hunt Backfires.”

Arianna Strikes Again: Moviefone, the AOL-owned ticket buying website turned editorial operation, lost its editor in the drama surrounding The Huffington Post merger. Today comes news of an upgrade, with Vanity Fair‘s online head Michael Hogan taking over as Executive Features Editor and head of AOL TV.

“We really want to take it from something that is successful as a ticket selling site, and try to make it into a robust gathering place for people who follow the movie industry and people who love movies,” he said.

Grantslam: Tom Scocca, a New York Observer alumnus most recently a blogger at Slate, took over as managing editor at Gawker Media’s sports blog Deadspin today, and wasted no time in attacking ESPN’s new Bill Simmons spin-off sports site Grantland, for their egoism mostly:

It’s the Grantland Fallacy, encoded in the site’s very name: People care about sports because sports is what sportswriters write about, because sportswriters are the most interesting people in the world. That’s the premise.

But what fun is a one-sided war? We’ll see if Grantland can whip up something, maybe, at the very least, in one of those nifty footnotes.