Journalism sinks to new low as Julia Ioffe accuses Trump of incest

Twitchy (here and here), as well as many other outlets, reported that journalist Julia Ioffe made a rather substantial gaffe on Twitter. Ioffe was the Russian correspondent for the New Yorker, then a senior editor for The New Republic, and most recently wrote for Politico. I’ve previously taken apart one of her religion-coddling pieces that was published in Foreign Policy. Many of her pieces, I should add, are thoughtful and good.)

One of the Twitchy pieces is amusingly called “Finally, the wait for a pro journalist to imply there’s incest in the Trump family is over.” Indeed, for here’s Ioffe’s Fatal Tweet (now deleted but saved for posterity):

screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-8-17-25-am

Now for a professional journalist, that’s a reprehensible thing to say. I deplore Trump, but we gain nothing when journalists accuse him of incest. Maybe that’s an appropriate tweet for a troll, but not for someone like Ioffe.

Shortly thereafter, Ioffe started realizing that maybe she said the wrong thing. But she couldn’t quite get to a full apology:

screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-8-18-51-am

The realization sank in further as she grasped what she had sent out to her 83,500 followers:

screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-8-20-08-am

Alas, too late: as Snopes reports, Ioffe was fired from Politico. But no worries—Ioffe’s landed a job with The Atlantic:

screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-8-29-17-am

And the latest development: 21 journalists have defended Ioffe, and only one even alludes to her tweet being reprehensible. The rest support her, excuse what she said because of Trump’s own “lewd” remarks, excoriate Politico for firing her, and, amazingly say they share her sentiments in that tweet!. Example:

screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-10-07-20-am

here’s some other specimens from writers:

screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-10-09-01-am screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-10-09-29-am screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-10-09-47-am

These and the others are all, like Ioffe, professional journalists. It seems to be the case that when Trump goes low, it’s okay for journalists to go lower. This does not presage an era of responsible journalism. And imagine what would have happened if a journalist tweeted that Bill Clinton was “fucking his daughter”! The left-wing press would have bayed for blood.

Now Ioffe has apologized, so I’m not sure whether she should lose her job at The Atlantic, though I think many reputable places would have rescinded their offer. Frankly, that bothers me less than what I see happening to the press. It’s fine to report on Trump, investigate him, and, in op-eds, excoriate him. But this kind of smear is simply out of place for a professional and reputable journalist. And Iofee, it seems, apologized only after she confected a notapology and then realized it wouldn’t stifle the critics.

99 Comments

  1. jaxkayaker
    Posted December 16, 2016 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    I’m not aware of Bill Clinton making sexual remarks about his daughter. Trump has. There’s video of him talking about how great her body is and how if she weren’t his daughter, he’d be dating her. Trump himself invites and incites such speculation.

    • Julius Civilius
      Posted December 16, 2016 at 10:53 am | Permalink

      That still does not excuse these reporters, their behavior shows the contempt they have for their own profession.

      A good journalist sticks to the facts based on good research and reliable sources not on speculation and fabricated stories.

      • Historian
        Posted December 16, 2016 at 11:08 am | Permalink

        The phrase “a good journalist sticks to the facts” is ambiguous and subject to differing interpretations. Does it mean that the journalist should simply report the “what, where, and when” of a particular story or is it incumbent on the journalist to provide context and analysis of what happened? The journalistic profession has been skewered by some who feel it failed in its duties by not more vigorously calling out Trump for his unending string of lies. I agree with this assessment. In one sense, journalism is instant history and any good historian would agree that analysis as well as relating the “facts” is required in serious historical writing.

        • Posted December 16, 2016 at 11:28 am | Permalink

          The phrase “a good journalist sticks to the facts” is ambiguous and subject to differing interpretations.

          No amount of ‘ambiguity’ or ‘differing interpretations’ excuse accusing someone of incest.

          • Historian
            Posted December 16, 2016 at 11:35 am | Permalink

            I was not commenting on what Julia Ioffe tweeted. I was simply presenting my views on what good journalism consists of. In any case, Ioffe’s tweet was not journalism, good or bad. Nobody’s tweet can be considered journalism. Her tweet was her acting in a non-journalistic capacity.

            • Randall Schenck
              Posted December 16, 2016 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

              Good response there. Tweeting is tweeting and not journalism. If a Pres. elect says something really stupid in a tweet it is simply a guy saying something stupid. It does not become an executive action. In fact, we better get use to it.

        • Kirbmarc
          Posted December 16, 2016 at 11:42 am | Permalink

          “The journalistic profession has been skewered by some who feel it failed in its duties by not more vigorously calling out Trump for his unending string of lies.”

          Pretty much all the media focused on Trump and his flaws. I think he got even too much attention, and if people (including the Democratic Party) try to promote Clinton better instead of attacking Trump to the point of saturation she might have had more of a chance.

          • Historian
            Posted December 16, 2016 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

            There is no question that the mainstream media paid much more attention to Trump than Clinton. He was a much more interesting story than Clinton. However, in my opinion, this doesn’t mean that they were as critical of him as they should have been. Perhaps part of the problem was that his lies came so fast that the media could not keep up with them. Its failure to point out that Trump is a sociopathic demagogue is one of the multitude of reasons that he won. Clinton, on the other hand, did not serially lie, meaning that the media could concentrate on the so-called email scandal. Despite this rather poor coverage, I doubt that but for a few, Trump’s legion of dupes had the slightest idea of what the whole email brouhaha was about.

            • Heather Hastie
              Posted December 16, 2016 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

              +1.

              You hear people saying they heard about Trump in the media, then they went to a rally and discovered the truth from the man himself. Because of the way the media covered him, many weren’t able to recognize that just about everything that came out of Trump’s mouth was a lie (and most of the rest was insults).

              I would prefer journalists especially, and also his political opponents, maintained the moral high ground when it comes to Trump. Besides, they will never beat him at his own game.

              Plenty of people have commented on his gross comments about his daughter, including his own supporters. To use the word incest is going to far and indicates a lack of judgement, which is not a good sign in a professional journalist.

        • Filippo
          Posted December 20, 2016 at 4:38 am | Permalink

          ‘ . . . “a good journalist sticks to the facts” is ambiguous and subject to differing interpretations. Does it mean that the journalist should simply report the “what, where, and when” of a particular story or is it incumbent on the journalist to provide context and analysis of what happened? . . . ‘

          Does reportorial “analysis” include, e.g., telling the reader how something or someone “seems” to a reporter? Or a reporter states someone’s action(s) “signals” an intent but doesn’t tell the reader how the reporter possibly knows that? (I’ve noticed this in the New York Times.) It “seems” to me that that sort of talk is reportorial opinionating more appropriately stated on the op-ed pages.

      • jaxkayaker
        Posted December 16, 2016 at 11:17 am | Permalink

        Journalism includes opinion and editorials, which can include satire and hyperbole. She may be a journalist, but it seems she wrote this as a private citizen, it wasn’t published in her official capacity.

        • Kirbmarc
          Posted December 16, 2016 at 11:43 am | Permalink

          This doesn’t excuse slander.

          • Scote
            Posted December 16, 2016 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

            It wasn’t actually actionable slander or libel because it was a either/or statement.

            The tweet was on a report of Ivanka being slated to use office space in the White House normally used by the First Lady (a report denied, but left open as a possibility by the Trump administration). Thus the joke conditional that Trump is using his daughter in place of the First Lady as wife or he’s using her nepotistically as an employee in the White House.

            • gravelinspector-Aidan
              Posted December 17, 2016 at 11:48 am | Permalink

              The tweet was on a report of Ivanka being slated to use office space in the White House normally used by the First Lady

              Ah, I was wondering what the context was. Thanks for that.
              Slander or libel, with his comments on his daughter’s sexual appeal Trump has given his enemies several Nixon-scale swords to penetrate him with. I think that under British laws, it would probably be libel – and having been read at least once in Britain, by me, in this thread, British law may apply. Another lawsuit for Trump to pursue, to distract him from getting on with inverting the Seward Purchase.

          • jaxkayaker
            Posted December 16, 2016 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

            Besides the fact that you’ve confused slander and libel, this isn’t remotely defamatory in either a legal or vernacular sense. You might find it distasteful, but try to get a grip. It was a tasteless joke.

    • Kirbmarc
      Posted December 16, 2016 at 11:39 am | Permalink

      This is the same standard that the “Pizzagate” conspiracy theorists use to support smearing people as being part of a ring of pedophiles.

      “Oh, they’re tweeting pictures of children and have names that sound like “J’aime les enfants, and they have weird sexual art, they’re inviting and inciting speculation”.

      It’s wrong when they do it, I don’t see why it’s right for others to do it with Trump.

      • jaxkayaker
        Posted December 16, 2016 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

        Not even close to the same thing as pizzagate. Trump has commented repeatedly on his daughter’s sex appeal. Pizzagate has everyone speaking in code about child trafficking. Also, I doubt anyone really takes the claim about Trump to be literally true.

        • Posted December 16, 2016 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

          Well, Ophelia Benson is certainly taking it seriously and so are her commentators (see link below).

          One of those commentators is ‘latsot’ who, I believe, was one of the original administrators of the ‘block bot’. He was also one of the most prolific smearers of Michael Nugent as a ‘rape apologist’ a few years back.

          So yes, some people are taking this seriously. And they are former skeptics.

    • Posted December 16, 2016 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

      I agree, and I think Trump deserved it, but it was unfair to the daughter.

    • Les
      Posted December 16, 2016 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

      Mr Trump was being a good sport while on the Howard Stern show and went along with Stern’s joke. Much of the media reported it without mentioning the context.
      I hate the politics of personal destruction.

      Full disclosure: I voted for Sec. Clinton. I feel the same way when Limbaugh dissed Chelsea or speculations about Trump’s young son.

      • Nobody Special
        Posted December 16, 2016 at 11:52 pm | Permalink

        You don’t have daughters I assume, Les, because I don’t know of a single father of a daughter – self included – who would go along with a joke about his daughter being ‘a piece of ass’. I do however know plenty who would have hospitalised Stern right there and then. A father with a normal, healthy relationship with his daughter does not sexualise her asTrump continuously has done. Nor does he obsess over her like Trump does. Remember his recent tweet about putting his businesses in a blind trust? ‘They don’t want me to see Ivanka ever again!’ Not a mention of his sons and other daughter, just Ivanka.
        Tell a good father his daughter is beautiful and he’ll agree; tell him she’s ,a piece of ass’ and you’d better duck.
        Also, no proper father looks at his daughter and says ‘y’know, if she wasn’t my daughter…’

        • GBJames
          Posted December 17, 2016 at 8:33 am | Permalink

          As a dad of a daughter, I agree. Trump’s comments about his daughter are profoundly creepy.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted December 17, 2016 at 8:53 am | Permalink

          If you’re the type of father who only sees women as worthwhile based on how fuckable they are, then it makes total sense that his daughter being seen as a “piece of ass” is something he would be proud of. Creepy, yes but no more disgusting than his larger view of women and sadly, from my experience, more common than normal men realize.

  2. busterggi
    Posted December 16, 2016 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    maybe Trump’s own comments about his daughter fueled this.

    • Kevin
      Posted December 16, 2016 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

      And possibly this picture:

      http://www.butterfliesandwheels.org/2016/guest-post-the-abused-are-taught-to-fear-their-abuser/

      I do not have a daughter, but if I did, I would get creeped out if she ever held my face like that.

      • Posted December 16, 2016 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

        It’s sad that the co-author of Why Truth Matters is resorting to stuff like that.

        Based on what? A girl in a photo looks nervous?

      • Posted December 16, 2016 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

        The comments below the piece are even worse. A ‘rapey parrot’? Jesus wept.

        And this from Benson: ‘They may well have a cordial relationship. Cordial isn’t the same as healthy.’ She bows to the
        ‘relevant experience’ of a random stranger on the internet who says she’s ‘worked with’ the social services and finds the picture creepy? That’s all it takes now?

        This is pizzagate level insanity where even the decor is secret code for abuse.

        • Taz
          Posted December 16, 2016 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

          Reminds me of Fox News and their “body language expert”.

        • Nobody Special
          Posted December 16, 2016 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

          The ‘rapey parrot’ refers very clearly to the rapey concrete parrot that Trump is perched next to in the picture, the very sinister one that looks ready to pounce on the other concrete parrot..
          The random stranger claims experience of working closely with the social services and other child protection agencies in their capacity as an emergency foster carer, a role in which they dealt with many abused children. They analysed the picture pointing out all of the things that they would view as possible ‘tells’ of an abusive relationship based on their experience, and added the proviso that their current judgement may be clouded by previous experience.
          I keep using the gender neutral here, but if you read the piece and subsequent comments for comprehension rather than for ammunition you’d realise that ‘she’, as you insist on referring to them, is in fact a he.
          From the comments by the random stranger, whose ‘nym is Acolyte of Sagan:

          I’ve got a thousand photographs of me with my daughters – admittedly none posed like that one! – and I can guarantee that in none of those snaps are my children looking at me like Ivanka is looking at Donald.

          I asked one of my own daughters today what she would have done had I told her, back when she was 14-15 (the age Ivanka appears to be in the pic) to pose with me like that. She said that she would have punched me into next week and called the police.

          Sounds like a father to me; a mother would be more likely to mention photographs of her daughters with their father, and would have asked how her daughter would respond if her father had asked her to pose in such a way.

          • gravelinspector-Aidan
            Posted December 17, 2016 at 11:59 am | Permalink

            The ‘rapey parrot’

            Could be worse. Could have been a mallard.

    • Scote
      Posted December 16, 2016 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      Out of context the Tweet seems unprofessional. In context, much less so.

      It is *Trump himself* who said he would have sex with Ivanka if she wasn’t his daughter. The person who brought up incest originally was **Trump**.

      The context of the tweet by Ioffe is an article that said Ivanka would be using office space in the White House usually used by the First Lady (something the Trump administration denies without actually ruling it out).

      • Julius Civilius
        Posted December 16, 2016 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

        “It is *Trump himself* who said he would have sex with Ivanka if she wasn’t his daughter. The person who brought up incest originally was **Trump**. ”

        This is part of the problem, you just made an outrageous claim without any source, show us where he said he would like to have sex with Ivanka if she wasn’t his daughter.

        I am betting you have no source because the real quote is “If Ivanka weren’t my daughter, I’d be dating her”.

        • Scote
          Posted December 16, 2016 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

          There was nothing in Trump’s statement that implied some sort of “platonic” dating of his daughter.

          Note that Trump also said this:

          “Yeah, she’s really something, and what a beauty, that one. If I weren’t happily married and, ya know, her father…”

          So, yeah, I’m pretty comfortable saying that President Pussy Grabber has said he would have sex with Ivanka if she wasn’t his daughter even if not in those exact words.

          • Julius Civilius
            Posted December 16, 2016 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

            You can try to justify what you have said but it remains factually incorrect. This is what you wrote down:

            “*Trump himself* who said he would have sex with Ivanka”

            This never happened, your limited attempt afterwards to justify this falsehood can barely be described as speculation.

            I in no way want to defend Trump, but the way to defeat him is to remain honest and to discuss hiss policies with integrity. You will gain nothing with this sort of rhetoric.

            • Scote
              Posted December 16, 2016 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

              And there is this:

              “Trump: “My daughter is beautiful.”
              Stern: “By the way, your daughter…”
              Trump: “She’s beautiful.”
              Stern: “Can I say this? A piece of ass.”
              Trump: “Yeah.””

              Trump is fine with calling his daughter “a piece of ass.”

              Please spare the faux outrage over Julia Ioffe’s Tweet joking that Ivank’s First Lady White House office space meant that either Trump was having sex with her or engaging in nepotism.

              A) Trump is the one who brought up incest with his daughter – “dating”, and why he can’t as her father, clearly means sex.

              B) Having Ivanka work at the White House is nepotism.

              Ioffe didn’t invent Trump’s sexual obsession with Ivanka, that’s on Trump, and on record.

              • Julius Civilius
                Posted December 16, 2016 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

                You appeal to Ioffe but I am directly responding to you and criticizing you for saying something which is not true.

                “It is *Trump himself* who said he would have sex with Ivanka if she wasn’t his daughter. The person who brought up incest originally was **Trump**. ”

                This is your speculation and not something Trump has directly said. To claim your speculation as fact is disingenuous and could be construed as hubris.

            • Scote
              Posted December 16, 2016 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

              Also, it is ironic that you just quote mined me.

              I wrote: “It is *Trump himself* who said he would have sex with Ivanka if she wasn’t his daughter.

              You wrote: “This is what you wrote down:

              “*Trump himself* who said he would have sex with Ivanka” ”

              You removed the *conditional* from my statement and changed its meaning.

              Your whole argument relies on the specious contention that Trump did not mean sex when he said he wold be “dating” Ivanka if she wasn’t his daughter.

        • Reginald Selkirk
          Posted December 16, 2016 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

          I am betting you have no source because the real quote is “If Ivanka weren’t my daughter, I’d be dating her”.

          The entire basis for your objection seems to be that, for Donald Trump, there is a meaningful distinction between “dating” and “having sex with.” That is ridiculous.

          • Posted December 16, 2016 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

            “The entire basis for your objection seems to be that, for Donald Trump, there is a meaningful distinction between “dating” and “having sex with.” That is ridiculous.”

            Agreed.

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted December 17, 2016 at 12:47 am | Permalink

              Also agreed. Scote’s conclusion is fully justified IMO. Julius Civilius is stonewalling and splitting hairs like mad.

              cr

              • Posted December 17, 2016 at 11:26 am | Permalink

                “Julius Civilius is stonewalling and splitting hairs like mad.”

                I hear people doing the same thing when they emphasize the “they let you” part of the pussy grabbing tape. I wonder whether, if Trump actually did have sex with his daughter, they would likewise argue that her “letting him” implied consent, or was evidence that she wanted it. I suspect in that circumstance people would recognize how people with power and authority over others cam manipulate them into doing, or allowing things that are against their will.

          • Posted December 16, 2016 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

            + 1

  3. ploubere
    Posted December 16, 2016 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    Absolutely agree, it is essential that the legitimate press be fact- and evidence-based, and not engage in slander. And to build a legitimate resistance to Trump’s administration will require discipline to not engage in insult and innuendo, to attack policies and not people.

    Which is why I hate to see insults about Trump’s hair, hands and other physical traits. How he wears his hair is his business and irrelevant to politics, and if that is where you start your attack, then you have no argument.

    • darrelle
      Posted December 16, 2016 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

      I agree that it is almost always better to not engage in personal insults but, “. . . and if that is where you start your attack, then you have no argument,” is just plain false.

      • ploubere
        Posted December 16, 2016 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

        Well, let me amend that, if that is your starting point, I’ll be skeptical of anything that follows.

        • ploubere
          Posted December 16, 2016 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

          Let me further amend that, since it’s good practice to be skeptical of any claim anyway, but if you start with an insult rather than a factual claim, then I probably won’t even read the rest.

          But the broader point I was trying to make is that engaging in insults rather than criticisms of Trump policies will do nothing to refute those policies, and will likely have the opposite result. It will only increase sympathy for Trump among his supporters, and give them valid grounds for criticizing his detractors.

          • Les
            Posted December 16, 2016 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

            +1

        • darrelle
          Posted December 16, 2016 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

          I can’t argue with that!

  4. Posted December 16, 2016 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    This election cycle seems to have extracted superlatives from everyone.

  5. Posted December 16, 2016 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    Trump is a Shock-Jock. His entire campaign was based on shifting attention from policy to personality. This kind of think plays into his hand.

    And also joins him in poisoning the wells

    • Kirbmarc
      Posted December 16, 2016 at 11:47 am | Permalink

      Yes, exactly. I think that far too much time was devoted to Trump. He’s a professional troll/con man (or, if you’re Scott Adams, a “persuader”) who knows how to attract attention and feeds on attention to promote his message and deflect criticism.

      He’s actually baiting people to say more stupid stuff about him. A professional journalist should know better.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted December 17, 2016 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

        He’s actually baiting people to say more stupid stuff about him.

        … anything to stop them bringing attention to what he’s actually doing.

        A professional journalist should know better.

        Agreed. She took that one hook line and sinker.

  6. eric
    Posted December 16, 2016 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    Hmmmm…yes Julia, I do think he’s very nepotistic in his business practices. But no Julia, I’ve never really thought he was having sex with his daughter. That was all you.

    Ivanka seems happily married with kids. Now it’s possible that’s just for show, but I doubt it. Here’s why: Trump has a very vindictive personality. I can’t see him letting his son-in-law hold power in the transition team if his daughter was living unhappily in a sham marriage.

    • darrelle
      Posted December 16, 2016 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

      Purely for the sake of argument, I can think of a similar scenario. Trump likes the son-in-law and thinks his daughter is a good female that knows her duties and place with respect to her husband and father.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted December 17, 2016 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

      But no Julia, I’ve never really thought he was having sex with his daughter.

      Cue covert Federal (*) funding for human cloning research.
      (*) Or whoever the White House funnels it’s money through)

  7. Posted December 16, 2016 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    sub

  8. Posted December 16, 2016 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    140 characters get the same treatement as thoughtful articles, or even a good paragraph? Tweets are great for random throwaway insults, but they are not “journalism.” We are almost to the point of using *only* emoji to communicate. Then we will critique that, too.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted December 17, 2016 at 12:49 am | Permalink

      🙂

      cr

      • HaggisForBrains
        Posted December 17, 2016 at 6:08 am | Permalink

        😀 😉

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted December 17, 2016 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

      Emoji? We don’t need no steenkin’ emoji.

      (}
      /Y\`;,
      /^\ ;:,

  9. GBJames
    Posted December 16, 2016 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    The world would be a better place had Twitter never been invented.

    • Mark R.
      Posted December 16, 2016 at 11:58 am | Permalink

      That’s exactly what I was going to comment. I’ve never used Twitter (and never will) so it’s easy for me to say, but from an outsider looking in, it doesn’t look like a very healthy place to occupy.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted December 17, 2016 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

        It has it’s uses. I just followed Simon’s Cat there, for the updates.

    • Posted December 16, 2016 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

      + 1

  10. Jeff Scott
    Posted December 16, 2016 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    Jerry –

    I’m not necessarily disagreeing with you, but I’d like to challenge you about the message embedded in this blog’s header.

    I think the election proves the press hasn’t served us well recently. But I don’t think it’s useful to think about the lowness (or highness) of journalism just by looking at instances that really catch our attention (a natural kind of selection bias). Ok, maybe we’re just trying to find “how” low the bell curve goes from the mean, but we already know it’s pretty god damn low based on the existence of Fox news.

    Journalism encompasses so much, and there will always be someone tweeting dumb shit under it’s name. But I don’t think that tells us much. I’m thinking by analogy of Pinker’s cautionary ethos about violence – we’ll always find some terribly violent act somewhere, but it probably muddies our thinking more than clarifies if we started talking about “civilizational low” after every nasty event without putting it in some kind of quantitative context.

    I’m open to why I’m wrong on this analogy – but it’d be like people talking about how evolutionary science has reached a new low every time someone like Wright publishes a piece of “purposeful evolution” drivel in Nytimes. Maybe this kind of thinking really is growing at an alarming rate among scientists, but I don’t know how to think about the problem without thinking at least quasi quantitatively…like what % of evolutionary scientists think this way, if it’s changed over time, etc.

    I’m totally open to why I’m missing something here…

    • Posted December 16, 2016 at 11:27 am | Permalink

      Thanks for the comment. What disturbed me more than an isolated tweet is that all those journalists supported Iofee (look at the site) and only one even mildly reproved her for what she said (I added the missing link: http://twitchy.com/gregp-3534/2016/12/15/21-journalists-who-have-spoken-out-in-defense-of-julia-ioffe-after-her-awful-incest-tweet/). The parallel, I think, would be if a substantial number of evolutionary biologists approved an accusation that E. O. Wilson was a pedophile. The dispute in this case is just over an ad hominem remark, not science.

      • Ullrich Fischer
        Posted December 16, 2016 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

        If EO Wilson were in the habit of publicly sharing that he heard Dr.Coyne once had someone murdered would that make such an accusation acceptable if Wilson had also hinted about how children were pieces of ass?

        • ploubere
          Posted December 16, 2016 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

          I don’t think so, it would still be an unsubstantiated accusation.

      • Posted December 16, 2016 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

        Some bloggers have accused Dawkins of condoning child abuse. It’s wrong when they do it and it’s wrong when reporters do it to Trump.

        • Posted December 16, 2016 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

          Curious that you mentioned Dawkins as I was thinking of him. This post reminded me of his infamous Down syndrome tweet, and the comments of people generally supporting him that he should stay away from Twitter.

  11. Carl
    Posted December 16, 2016 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    Excellent article. It’s not about Trump, but journalists, and their need to retain credibility.

    It’s possible to stick the knife in, while retaining accuracy and integrity, even elegance. Consider this by George Will from before the election:

    Trump is a marvelously efficient acid bath, stripping away his supporters’ surfaces, exposing their skeletal essences. Consider Mike Pence, a favorite of what Republicans devoutly praise as America’s “faith community.” Some of its representatives, their crucifixes glittering in the television lights, are still earnestly explaining the urgency of giving to Trump, who agreed that his daughter is “a piece of ass,” the task of improving America’s coarsened culture.

  12. nickswearsky
    Posted December 16, 2016 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    I use twitter to follow others, mainly science folk, so I have an account. But I never tweet (I doubt many would care what I have to say about most things). How many people have been fired because of Twitter? More than any other app, I’ll wager.

  13. Martin Levin
    Posted December 16, 2016 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    Agreed. I loathe Trump and pretty much everything he stands for, which may, of course, be nothing but himself. And he has made sexualized comments about Ivanka. Ioffe’s suggestion, even if it was meant as a jocund alternative to whom he’s really screwing, was still awful, though I’m not keen on firing people for speech.

    • Posted December 16, 2016 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

      + 1. Particularly your second sentence is brilliant.

  14. DrBrydon
    Posted December 16, 2016 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    I would like to point out regarding the original tweet, that sleeping with one’s daughter would not excuse breaking nepotism laws. (“It’s nepotism.”; “He’s sleeping with her.”; “Oh, damn loopholes.”) On the whole, though, it strikes me as a juvenile act, one that any professional in any field should be ashamed of (the tweet I mean).

  15. Posted December 16, 2016 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    “But this kind of smear is simply out of place for a professional and reputable journalist.”

    Perhaps I’m somewhat uninformed, being a Brit on the right side of the pond, but I had a completely different reading of it to yourself and others here.

    For me, it’s not a smear, but simply a lewd joke regarding extreme nepotism. It’s not accusing anyone of anything other than nepotism – unless there are rumours of incest regarding Trump that I’ve never come across?

    Whether you think a lewd joke about nepotism is out of place for a professional and reputable journalist is another thing, I suppose? But then it’s a joke in a tweet, not a journalistic piece.

    For myself, it merely places her, politically (and comedically). Her journalism (which I haven’t read) I’ll take on its own merit.

    As for the joke, technically, I like it. It’s very Frankie Boyle’esque, and I like Frankie. It’s aharp, dark, cutting, offensive, and, notwithstanding information I’m not aware of, says a lot with a little.

    I wouldn’t open with it but, with a bit of re-writing, it’d find a place in the set.

    • Posted December 16, 2016 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

      aharp = ‘sharp’.

    • JimmyHaulinHogs
      Posted December 16, 2016 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

      +1

      I totally agree, especially where you wrote: “It’s not accusing anyone of anything other than nepotism”

      Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like a lot of people on this thread agree with that and, frankly, that’s rather shameful.

      • Posted December 17, 2016 at 6:47 am | Permalink

        Thought I was in a minority of one there for a second?

        Totally outraged and offended at the outrage and offence that is apparently being taken.

        I’ll leave my pitchfork in the cupboard on this one.

        Anvil.

  16. Ullrich Fischer
    Posted December 16, 2016 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    Given that the president elect sets the standard for political speech, Joffe’s
    Tweet was well above that standard. To emulate Trump’s style of pronouncing on such things, I’ve heard he fucks his daughter. Trevor Noah presented evidence for that on his show — Evidence every bit as compelling as Trump’s evidence for all the things he “heard” in his last thousand TV appearances.

    • ploubere
      Posted December 16, 2016 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

      I think the point of Trevor’s piece was to demonstrate the absurdity of Trump’s claims, not to offer evidence of incest on Trump’s part.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted December 17, 2016 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

      Given that the president elect sets the standard for political speech,

      When did “setting the standard for political speech” become a duty of a President-Elect, and who sets the standard when there is no President-Elect?
      Surely the standards for political speech are set by the consensus of politicians, political commentators, and the libel laws – all of whom have let themselves be dragged down by the last few decades of populism.

  17. johnw
    Posted December 16, 2016 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps relevant to Julia Ioffe’s motivation, she was the writer who profiled Melania Trump and early on questioned whether she was an undocumented worker in the mid ’90s, which was subsequently confirmed by the AP and USA Today among other new outlets. But of course in Trump’s world white nude models get a pass on the whole illegal alien thing. Anyhow, Ms. Ioffe received a slew of antisemitic death threats for what was legitimate journalism. Wish she hadn’t stooped to his level, or attacked his daughter who imho in the best of a pretty sketchy bunch, but I can understand.

  18. Posted December 16, 2016 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    She might have posted as a private citizen but this is the kind of thing journalists are pushing in their official capacity:

    A choice quote:

    The Royal Society and British Academy recently held a high-profile interdisciplinary conference on ‘New Trends in Evolutionary Biology’. Officially, the event was open to the widest possible range of criticisms of the Neo-Darwinian synthesis. Yet the invitation did not extend to proponents of intelligent design theory who have publicized most of the same criticisms of the synthesis. It would seem that the paradigm shift demanded by advocates of intelligent design would have been a step too far

  19. Ken Kukec
    Posted December 16, 2016 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Melania is Trump’s secret Slovenian love child from an earlier relationship?

    When they go low, I get high …er, you know what I mean.

  20. Lee
    Posted December 16, 2016 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    It strikes me as extremely dangerous to attempt to fight the devil with the devil’s own tools (metaphorically speaking, of course). While Michelle Obama’s quip “when they go low we go high” may sound effete and ineffective, it’s critical to maintain personal integrity in the fight against the spreading poison of Trumpism. Everything he touches, even indirectly (e.g. those who stoop to his own tactics to attack him) gets dirty. We have to think in terms of the long game. The sake of the entire planet is at stake.

  21. Diana MacPherson
    Posted December 16, 2016 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    I wouldn’t want to see her lose her job at The Atlantic. She made a mistake, acknowledge it and apologized for it. It’s a mistake that is very small when weighed against the many thoughtful articles she has written, especially on Russia.

    • Posted December 16, 2016 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

      Yes, I also like her reports about Russia.

  22. Randall Schenck
    Posted December 16, 2016 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    I was listening to Obama’s news conference this afternoon and he made many important points. On of them was from yet more questions about the Russian’s and Putin and what Trump said about the hacking and on and on. Was Putin attempting to affect the election and help Trump and much more.

    Obama said this: A country such as Russia with lessor power, a poor economy, not much to sell to the world but oil and military weapons should not have any great affect on the U.S. However, when this country has become so divided and the media so obsessed with such things as Hilary’s emails that it nearly consumed the election process and one side splits hairs with every detail and chance to smear the other party, then outside interference such as the Russian hacking does have affect. It should not in a healthy U.S. political environment but then, we no longer have one of those, do we?

  23. mikeyc
    Posted December 16, 2016 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    Has there ever been an “era of responsible journalism”?

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted December 16, 2016 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

      Certainly and at least it was clearly responsible compared to what we have today.
      Just a few names I can think of, Ed Morrow, Walter Kronkite, Bill Lear and many in the Newspaper business where nearly all the good ones came from. The guys that covered Watergate. Hopefully you get the idea.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted December 16, 2016 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

        Sorry, should have checked first Jim Lehrer, not Bill Lear. Of the MacNeil/Lehrer report. More real journalist.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted December 17, 2016 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

        Was that era of journalism more or less profitable than the “clickbait” era we’ve been increasingly moving to over the last few decades? I suspect, from the direction of travel, that the profits are higher with “clickbait journalism” than with “responsible journalism” ; and therefore “responsible journalism” will die to be replaced by the clickbait. Or it has happened already.

  24. Posted December 16, 2016 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

    OK, I just read the article related to this, and it’s not nearly as bad as it seems on the face of it, and is clearly a joke.
    The tweet was a response to the fact that Ivanka is getting the White House office usually assigned to the first lady. In that context the joke is no different than one you might hear on SNL.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted December 17, 2016 at 2:12 am | Permalink

      He’s installing her in the First Lady’s office? I ‘get’ the tweet. In fact, not only do I get it, it’s the first thing that leaps to mind. (My mind, at least.)

      It’s a joke, people. May not be in the best of taste, but so what? I hadn’t heard that jokes based on sex had been outlawed. I’m sure Trump would ‘get’ it.

      cr

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted December 17, 2016 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

        May not be in the best of taste, but so what?

        Kenny Everett may not have ben the best comic ever, but his Cupid Stunt character owns that line.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted December 18, 2016 at 2:48 am | Permalink

          ‘It’s all in the best *possible* taste’

          Yes, very tasteful. Or tasty. Hmm, ‘taste’ is one of those words with a convenient plethora of meanings.

          cr

          • gravelinspector-Aidan
            Posted December 18, 2016 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

            “Taste” is definitely one of those concepts where you can go continuously from “good” to “indifferent” to “bad” to “really bad” and back to “good” again.

  25. Mike
    Posted December 17, 2016 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    Well it’s open for Drumpf to sue.


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