The Washington Post

Business Insider bails on anti-Semitism thing

Business Insider boss Henry Blodget yesterday affixed a “Writer’s Note” to his boneheaded post that attempted to probe the origins of anti-Semitism. Noting that the response to the piece had been “empassioned” — which sounds like a more extreme condition than simply “impassioned” — Blodget credited it for stirring some positive feedback.

Yet the criticism left a stronger impression on him:

Some readers also felt that, if I was going to ask why some people hate Jews, I should also ask why some people hate blacks, Mormons, Christians, Muslims, and every other group that is occasionally subjected to hate. And I certainly could have asked those questions, too (If the commenters on my Goldman post and the British religious-studies exam had focused on Muslims, I might have asked that question first). One smart reader suggested that I just summarize all those questions by asking “Why do people hate?” And that was a reasonable question.

And then I got the feedback that clued me into the fact that I had crossed a line I hadn’t intended to cross. Some people I like and respect told me they felt insulted by and uncomfortable with the post.

That did it.

Whatever interesting responses came from the post, I now regret writing it. (I’m okay making people feel uncomfortable about some topics, but not this one.)

I am very sorry to anyone I offended. I sincerely apologize.

As apologies go, that’s a sturdy one. Clear sense of regret. Owning the mistake. Absence of conditional contrition (i.e., “if I offended anyone, I apologize”).

Praise the posting symmetry, too. The item clearly went up quickly, free of excessive — and sufficient — deliberation. The “Writer’s Note,” too, appears to be the product of Business Insider’s hurry-up offense, complete with a little redundancy and that rare spelling of “impassioned.” Other organizations would have waited a day or two to bang out such regrets.

And to think: The feedback that Blodget originally received from colleagues on the piece — that it’d spawn a “vigorous discussion” — was right on the money!

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.


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