On Sunday, on the occasion of his induction into the Hall of Fame, the beloved baseball player Mariano Rivera was subjected to an “exposé” by one Robert Silverman in the Daily Beast revealing that “over the past three years, [Rivera has] served at the pleasure of a racist president, taken part in thinly veiled propaganda on behalf of a far-right government in Israel, and gotten chummy with outright bigots and apocalyptic loons.” After briefly praising Rivera’s skill as a pitcher, and then describing—with more than a whiff of contempt—his evangelical Christian faith, Silverman devotes nearly 1,000 words of a 2,400-word article to Rivera’s positive attitude toward the Jewish state; much of the rest is spent cataloguing other athletes who have visited Israel. Liel Leibovitz comments:
Silverman is hardly . . . honest when it comes to Israel. A few months before the pitcher’s visit to the Jewish state, Silverman notes, “Israeli soldiers killed at least 60 Palestinian protesters in Gaza and injured thousands more.” As the piece progresses, we hear more about the suffering of Palestinians at the hands of the wicked Israelis, but not a lick by way of context: nothing about Hamas, nothing about incendiary kites, nothing about rockets terrorizing children in Sderot and elsewhere.
Silverman is highly selective with his facts, presenting only the handful that fit his narrative, but . . . he goes a step further and wraps his entire argument in the gauze of conspiracy—repeatedly referring to “conscious efforts to keep this information about [Rivera’s] private life under wraps.” So secretive, in fact, was Rivera, that only those privileged few with access to rare channels of information—like USA Today and Twitter—could learn about his visit to Israel or his service on President Trump’s opioid committee.
But, unwittingly or otherwise, Silverman has given us a glance of American journalism’s new normal. . . . No editor involved in the publishing process took issue with Silverman’s failure to present a narrative that even remotely resembles the truth, or cared to ask whether the piece’s lead art, [subsequently replaced]—showing Rivera standing in the center of an Israeli flag, a pawn in the Zionist game—mightn’t be considered blatantly anti-Semitic.