WaPo Erases Claim That Muslim Extremist Is a Right-Winger, but Its ‘Apology’ Makes It Even Worse

On Thursday, Facebook announced it was banning several extremist leaders from its social media service. The Washington Post, always on top of the news, quickly posted a story about “far-right” figures being excised from the platform.
The two big names from the right that ended up getting expunged are Alex Jones, the Infowars conspiracy theorist/ranine sexuality expert, and Milo Yiannopoulos, the former Breitbart editor in the midst of a multi-year odyssey to discover how low the deep end goes.
Now, you can debate over whether the world is a better place with Jones and Yiannopoulos booted off of what’s pretty much the last social media platform they’re not blackballed from. There are certainly debates to be had about erosion of free speech and the slippery slope, about how to tackle fringe voices on private media platforms, about whether social media firms constitute a thought monopoly — those sorts of things. That’s not what we’ll be examining here.
What we will be examining instead is The Washington Post’s initial headline, which played like a demented game of “One of these things is not like the others”:

Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan — one of the most rebarbative and identifiable hate-figures on the left — has somehow been transmuted into a man (I really use that term as loosely as possible) of the far-right. This was obviously in error, and the WaPo corrected it. But much like their former employees Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein would have noted that the cover-up can be worse than the crime, sometimes the apology can be worse than the initial offense.
Here’s the editor’s note at the top of the retitled article, “Facebook bans extremist leaders including Louis Farrakhan, Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos for being ‘dangerous’”:

There are times when something can be completely true and completely inappropriate at the same time.
Yes, “Louis Farrakhan is an extremist leader who has espoused anti-Semitic views.” Yes, that’s accurate. “An earlier version of this story and headline incorrectly included him in a list of far-right leaders.” Yes, accurate.
However, two questions arise here. First, how much does the first sentence have to do with the second? Is it explaining how Farrakhan got banned? Or is it a tacit admission that they assumed Mr. Farrakhan could be lumped in with the right because he is an anti-Semite? One could certainly make that case, given the wording.
And then there’s the fact that no mention was made of Farrakhan’s political leanings at all. Unlike Jones and Yiannopoulos, who no political figure would touch with a bargepole, Farrakhan has continued to be embraced by members of the dominant left-wing party in the United States.
Consider the fact that at least five congressional Democrats who have been close to Farrakhan in the past refused to disavow him or be completely honest about their dealings with him when the issue was brought up last year. Illinois Rep. Danny Davis even went to far as to say he was “an outstanding human being.”
Picture it now: A Republican representative talking about how Milo Yiannopoulos was “an outstanding human being.” We’d never hear the end of it. In the case of Rep. Davis, we hardly heard the beginning of it.
Furthermore, The Washington Post wasn’t even the only publication to make this error. The Atlantic made the selfsame “mistake.”
In these situations, I’m generally willing to abide by the journalistic version of Hanlon’s razor: Never attribute to malice what is adequately explained by laziness. However, even the most indolent journalist knows Farrakhan is about as far-left as you can go without being relegated to cultural irrelevance. In fact, of the individuals banned from Facebook on Thursday, he was inarguably the most famous. And yet, he was identified as far-right.
No one is particularly disturbed by the fact that far-right figures are being identified as anti-Semites, either. However, one senses a deeper purpose in identifying Farrakhan among their ilk: The denial that anti-Semitism is a common thread among the far left, as well. If The Washington Post and The Atlantic were to admit that, they would also have to admit a great many other figures a la izquierda have also trafficked in anti-Semitism. We can think of quite a few they may have reticence about calling out.
WaPo Erases Claim That Muslim Extremist Is a Right-Winger, but Its ‘Apology’ Makes It Even Worse WaPo Erases Claim That Muslim Extremist Is a Right-Winger, but Its ‘Apology’ Makes It Even Worse Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 12:04 Rating: 5

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