An Interview With (Now Former) NYU Fellow Nir Rosen

Yesterday, Nir Rosen, a fellow at NYU’s Center on Law and Security, resigned his position after making a series of offensive tweets that suggested that Lara Logan, a CBS correspondent who was beaten and sexually assaulted while covering the Egyptian protests in Tahrir Square, did not deserve sympathy because of her past pro-war stance.

His tweets caused a media firestorm, and he has since apologized profusely. But, as you’ll see in this exclusive interview with NYU Local, Rosen is unhappy about the reaction to his tweets, which he calls “sanctimonious and silly.” He also has some controversial words about the Lara Logan story and why it made the news in the first place.

What would you like to say to the NYU community?

I’d like to apologize to the NYU community and say that I regret my departure. I enjoyed my time at NYU and the welcoming and stimulating environment I found there.

You were defiant on twitter last night after your first two tweets got a huge response, but then apologized profusely this morning. Why the change of heart?

I was defiant at first because I didn’t think anybody could possibly take a few dumb jokes between friends seriously. I also had not yet realized the severity of the attack, so I thought it was just one more celebrity journalist trying to get attention for themselves. I apologized in the morning because I’m in the Middle East so I woke up and found that a mob had been unleashed at me and while some people were genuinely offended and thought I was serious, others in the right took advantage of the opportunity to destroy a voice from the left. I hoped to make it clear that I wasn’t serious.

Why were you compelled to resign from NYU so quickly? Were you asked to step down?

US academic establishments are already under attack from the right, and my Center at NYU stood to be harmed by the pack of dogs sent to take me down, and I did not want to harm a very important center or the work of people I greatly admire.

Did you receive any form of official university response or reprimand regarding your comments?

I did not receive any official reprimand.

Do you think your tweets have been unfairly attacked or blown out of proportion?

I think certainly my tweets have been unfairly attacked and blown out of proportion. That does not excuse my lapse of judgment for making them in the first place. I stupidly didn’t think that some crude banter would become fodder for thousands and I was not aware of the right wing attack machine waiting to take me down, nor did I realize, even though I was criticizing the celebrity culture in the media, what happens if you mock one of those celebrities, especially if you do it in such an offensive way as I did.

That said, I find the reactions sanctimonious and silly. A few crude jokes on twitter do not make a philosophy, they just make you a momentary jerk. I didn’t mean it and I have a record of eight years of risking my life for justice to prove my values. Had I been a right-wing writer I doubt this would have happened to me. That said, twitter is not a place for nuance and I should stick to long form journalism.

Are you truly sorry for your remarks? How can you convince the public of that?

I am sorry for my remarks because they hurt people and as a result also damaged the causes I struggle for and damaged my ability to fight for those causes. I dont know how I can convince people of that. All I can do is continue doing what I was doing.

Do you consider political adversaries to be actual enemies that should experience pain or suffering?

No I do not consider political opponents deserving of assault, let alone sexual assault. This might be the wrong time to state this, but I’ve thrown my career out the window for being careless so I might as well stress something.

Had Logan been a non-white journalist this story would have never made it to the news. Ahmed Mahmoud, an Egyptian journalist, was killed in cold blood and nobody ever heard of him. Dozens of other women were harassed and nobody will ever hear about them. And I have not seen any condemnation of the pure hatred, racism, and vitriol that I’ve seen spewed all over the Internet in response to the Lara Logan story. I’ve seen Arabs, Muslims and Egyptians being called animals and pigs in tens of websites and, right under the Logan stories, read some of the most vile rhetoric about them that would never fly about any other group.

And I am bothered by the celebrity culture of the mainstream media, which turns the journalist into the story, which is what I thought was happening. In addition, I really have been outraged by Logan’s reporting in the past, which I feel has defended American imperial adventures that cost the lives of many thousands of people in the Middle East. But that has nothing to do with the crime she suffered, nothing at all. I let my resentment of the mainstream television media and their role promoting American wars make me look like somebody who could ever justify a woman being abused. And I do not believe that.

My eye rolling comment had to do with my anticipation of what would be done with a story about the brown savages attacking a white woman, such a common theme in the West, including in America, whether its African Americans or Arabs. But none of this matters. These are not points that should be made at the expense of a woman being abused and these are probably not even points that a man has a right to make.

Comments

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    41 Comments

  1. Anne Salisbury says

    @laurie. I agree whole heartedly.

    Also – -look at the tweets. he wan’t ‘joking” around. This wasn’t gallows humor. It was just a nasty, bitter response to a sexual assault on his enemey, A blond, white enemy – -even more vile to him.

    But another reason why we need not accept his apology? He is lying through his teeth. He knew very well she had been sexually assaulted during the many hours of his first tweets and period of defiance. The timing, the link to CBS and the obvious meaning of the tweets themselves demonstrate this.

    He must think we are all a bunch of idiots. Through race and politics in there, lie and hope no one notices that you are not really sorry and meant every word you said.

  2. Giovanni Di Matteo says

    Nir Rosen’s reporting from the middle east is so deep and rich, so nuanced, and brings the people to life for a western audience… My personal view is that there is nobody else worth listening to ; the rest are self-proclaimed ‘experts’ or journalists ‘on holiday’ reporting the cliffs notes they picked up from a local fixer with a backdrop of curious-looking Arab people waving into the camera. Rosen’s work is so illuminating. I feel like someone who has been doing the heavy lifting that western press has failed to do deserves better than being talked about like some kind of scumbag.

    What is this country coming to??? People… it’s TWITTER. Like he said, he didn’t know the full situation at the time, and if you follow him on Twitter then you know that he’s very brash and cavalier in his remarks. Nobody should be taken seriously in a 140 character limited textbox. I can’t believe the reaction to this. What a ridiculous political discourse this is when people can be forced out of their jobs (or feel compelled to quit) over less-than-full-paragraphs, exceptional off-handed invective… Then compare that to the kind of crap that gets said on Fox news every week, that democrats are Nazis, or that journalists should be assassinated, or whatever Ann Coulter said on any given day – free passes, all around.

  3. Dani Levi says

    Rosen is ” nuanced”? Rosen is a far left polemicist who carries a huge piece of hate inside him. Read some of his articles! They are scary. He does not understand anything, but lives in a left wing echo chamber and jets around the world ( preferably business class ) to find more hate on those he hates.
    Like Assange, he constantly goes on about how great he is and how HE fights for the weak. This man has a HUGE ego that needs constant reinforcement.
    Rosen is obsessed with the USA/Israel, but has no eyes for what is happening in Sudan, Iran, China or other hell holes. Places where hundreds of thousands of people are murdered and raped.
    But he prefers to hang with the Taliban. I hear they LOVE women’s rights and are keen on gender issues!

    Here is a good summary about the man.
    http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/02/the-america-bashing-pro-taliban-tweets-of-nir-rosen/71378/

  4. Kaitlin Kelly says

    @Giovanni:

    “Nobody should be taken seriously in a 140 character limited textbox,” eh?

    So, if one were to start spouting off violently racist, homophobic or bigoted remarks on Twitter, it’s okay, because it’s under 140 characters? He can make fun of a woman for getting raped, and it’s okay, because it doesn’t amount to a full paragraph? You must be kidding.

    It doesn’t matter if it’s “TWITTER” or not. He said something abhorrent and deserves the response he’s getting, regardless of whatever “illuminating” or “nuanced” work he has produced. Simple as that.

  5. Monty Graham says

    Hey Nir – I am part of that right wing cabal. Haha – WE OWNED YOU!!!! You have been WTF PAWNED. Take note all you left wing commy bastards… you are next.

  6. Alexander Esterhazy says

    Rosen is one of those “one of a kind” journalists, who are not so “embedded” with the troops as other so-called CNN & others correspondents are. He actually lived with the people in Iraq and Afghanistan and what not. I have read his books, and they are the real account; perceptive from the other point of view.
    As for his “rant” is considered, it was disparaging and tasteless to say the least, but very overblown. Women are sexually assaulted in our country left and right and their stories never make it in the news, because it really is not worth it, right? I hope Ms. Logan best of luck and a speedy recovery, but her “journalistic” perspective are so passive and pathetic compared to Rosen’s. She criticized Michel Hastings for his interviews with General Mcchrystal that eventually got him fired, because “he was on the wrong side”, as to say he was unpatriotic. So yeah, her views on journalism are pathetic and complacent for authority.
    Thus, I hope this stuff blows over and cannot really, overshadowed Rosne’s excellent reporting. Rosen’s is what others (including that pathetic stooge Anderson Cooper) should try to emulate. Twitter is an ugly pile of crap to begin with, and should be used to implicate a man’s entire career.
    Here is Rosen’s in his own view at Salon:
    http://www.salon.com/life/feature/2011/02/17/nir_rosen_explains_twitter_controversy

  7. Dani Levi says

    I look forward to Rosen reporting on the 99 killed protesters in Libya. But I have a suspicion he is not that interested because Ghadhafi is anti-USA and therefore freedom in that country is less worthy.

  8. Ted Knight says

    Jeffrey Goldberg is filth from the toilet. I’m glad he attacked Nir Rosen, because it gives Rosen that much more credibility. No sane person listens to Goldberg, a textbook psychotic who belongs in a nut house.

  9. Dani Levi says

    Rosen lost all is credibility with the Logan episode. His eternal back paddling and his half baked ” yes but no but yes but no but yes ” apologies will stain him and the pages of the world wide web for ever.
    He clearly does not understand what this is all about. But being the self styled eternal hero of the dispossessed, he has fallen for the very trap he accuses the MSM of. He had created an image of himself “over eight years” ( he loves to repeat that for effect ) of the “other one”. Just as the MSM needs its pretty journalists so do the left need their darling “on the ground”, living with the victims, to tell us what they have always suspected….echo chamber. That the misery, Rosen reports on with gusto has been a fact of life for centuries in Arab countries is lost in translation. Saddam and the Mullahs, Sudan, Taliban et al. were in fact ruling over “Switzerland” until Bush arrived. And were it not for Rosen, we’d never have known about violence.
    This man reminds me of the love child of Assange and George Galloway. When will the left understand, that they just as everybody else creates a market , that is fed by the usual suspects. Be they Logan or Rosen.
    The perfidy of it all!

  10. Keyser Soze says

    I wouldn’t urinate on Rosen’s head if his hair were on fire, my urine is far too valuable to waste on him.
    I will, however, save a full bladder’s worth to deposit on his grave, preferably after eating asparagus.

  11. Dani Levi says

    @ Susan Kortney
    you said it girl.
    What is of real interest here, are the posters who hold Rosen’s past morality high, yet fail to see the truth.

  12. Don Canard says

    sounds like Nir needs to shut his mouth lest he appear to be a putz. Insert right (ahem) foot and proclaim that the beyotch deserved it. A day later insert foot number 2 by instrumentalizing the appropriate outrage at comment #1 with socially fashionable mouthings that if she had been a “woman of color” the story would have never made the news. So now the premise is that all ‘progressives’ are left to find the balance point between the political incorrectness of laughing at sexual violence against women and gays (he couldn’t leave Anderson out of it) against the political correctness of using a woman’s rape as a teaching moment about racial inequity. I have a better idea: STFU.

  13. Dani Levi says

    As Rosen’s heroes machine gun their populations in public I wonder what is going through his head? Looks like all of his alternatives to US and Zionist “imperialist world domination” have proven wrong. But I guess Hezbollah and Tehran are still in the saddle. He must be glad he decamped to Beirut.

    Maybe he can get an exclusive interviewing Quadafi in his Airbus on the way to Caracas? All of this feels like 1989.

    The lefties are being overrun by history. Life is proven once again to have more nuances than they’d ever dreamt there might be. Funny that.
    Oh well. Life and learn.

  14. Elaine bain says

    Is there every anything left or even right about violent sexual abuse of any individual? Can anyone say that this was anything other than a violent, sexist attack on an innocent person? I have noticed that this story has conveniently been quickly swept under the rug by the television new media. In fact, I’ve had to look it up online to find information and commentary. I thought cruelty in any form was what everyone this revolution was all about…

Trackbacks

  1. [...] The man's a wonderful reporter, with great politics. I sure hope people can't ransack my mind for all the racist and sexist ideas that have tracked their mud through my thoughts– actually I bet they will be able to do so before long, with the next generation of the internet. (And it will be a good thing, actually. I will have to expose all my oldfashioned mean attitudes, and mankind will progress; and so by the way will Jeffrey Goldberg and Elliott Abrams and the fools who pushed the Iraq war have to show what they thought about Israel.) Here's a good interview of Nir Rosen by Charlie Eisenhood at NYU newspaper: [...]