CJ Werleman Can’t Be A Journalist – If Facts and Evidence Matter
It’s been a devastatingly embarrassing six months for author and columnist CJ Werleman. Exposed for misrepresentation, serial plagiarism and probable sockpuppetry – and this was all before Sam Harris effortlessly spanked his ill-judged libellous accusations. Both Salon and Alternet dropped Werleman as a result, the latter completely removing his articles from their archives altogether. The only platform still willing to publish him is Middle East Eye. It’s a self-immolation that is painful to look at – yet I can’t seem to help myself.
You’d imagine this period would have been a good time for Werleman to put down the spade and contemplate where his career was heading. He appears to have dropped the spade and upgraded to a JCB digger however, committed to hacking his way downward – ethically.
I’d like to provide you with a few examples that distinguish a Journalist from a Propagandist.
Following the horrific Chapel Hill murders at the hands of a self-proclaimed atheist, Werleman could barely contain his excitement long enough for the bodies to go cold before exploiting the atrocity to further his own personal vendettas:
Werleman subsequently deleted the tweet and apologised for it. This Twitter retraction did not stop him from going on to publish a piece claiming pretty much the same thing titled: The Chapel Hill murders: The beast of New Atheism?
His wildly misguided views aside, it’s an inability to read simple paragraphs and blatant dishonesty that catches my attention most.
In his piece ‘Who are the millionaires behind the Islamophobic industry in America?’ you will find the following claim from Werleman (emphasis mine)1.
This week’s attacks against Muslim Americans have not been confined to graffiti, arson, vandalism and threats. On Monday, a 39-year-old male suspect was arrested for the stabbing of two victims at a bus stop in Southfield, Michigan. The suspect asked whether the two victims were Muslim before stabbing one five times in the face, neck and back; and the other in the hand.
Werleman provides this article in The Detroit Free Press as the source for his claim. A brief glance of the article however reveals this pivotal piece of information about the suspect (emphasis mine):
Minutes later and a few blocks away, police arrested Terrence Lavaron Thomas, 39, of Detroit, who’s accused of stabbing the two men. He was carrying two knives and some marijuana, and he told police he was a Muslim, according to Southfield Police Department.
There we have it. Werleman has used an instance of violence committed by a Muslim and reported it as an act of violence against Muslims. He’s not even bothered to read the article he uses as his jumping of point to claim anti-Muslim violent attacks are on the up. This amateurish failure to fact check (or read!) his own sources would be laughable were the consequences of such incompetence not so serious.
At the time of writing this blog post, this unforgivable misinformation remains uncorrected on the original article – over a month after it was published. The article was first published on the 18th of February 2015. This glaring error (as well as being pointed out in the comments section of the piece) was brought to Werleman’s attention on the 23rd Feb:
And brought up several times since by others, finally leading to an acknowledgement from Werleman.
To my knowledge, Werleman has not at any point before now noted this mistake to his readers via his Twitter feed or anywhere else. The question remains; when this is finally ‘corrected’, will it just be buried by a deletion, or will they include an acknowledgement of misleading information as is standard in respectable journalism? UPDATE 22 March see footnote2
When he’s not failing simple tests of reading comprehension, he persists in misrepresenting people and facts to further his myopic agenda.
Take this Tweet:
It’s not unreasonable to suggest that an honest reading of this commentary would lead one to assume Netanyahu endorsed the actual acts of terrorism on 11th September 2001. Yet if you open the article sourced, you will see the actual context (emphasis mine):
Asked tonight what the attack meant for relations between the United States and Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, the former prime minister, replied, ”It’s very good.” Then he edited himself: ”Well, not very good, but it will generate immediate sympathy.” He predicted that the attack would ”strengthen the bond between our two peoples, because we’ve experienced terror over so many decades, but the United States has now experienced a massive hemorrhaging of terror.”
I have no desire to defend Netanyahu on anything, but I’ll leave it to you to decide whether Werleman’s commentary is an accurate or responsible one.
And from today we have this Tweet:
‘MSM’ means ‘Mainstream Media’ – the implication being that the mainstream media have an agenda to demonise Muslims by over-reporting on crimes committed by Muslims, yet burying atrocities committed by non-Muslims. But is the claim about this horrible shooting going ‘unreported’ even true? I live in the UK and I’ve seen reports about this shooting while going about my standard daily routine of checking in with my preferred news sources. Also, a quick glance of Google News reveals the below:
Perhaps if MSNBC, The Guardian, The Daily Mail, The Los Angeles Times and Newsweek are not ‘Mainstream’ enough for CJ, he’s free to trawl through the other 1,279 articles available on the story where he’ll find reports from CNN, The BBC, Reuters, ABC, CNET, BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post, Fox News, Sky News, People Magazine, USA Today, CBS News, The New York Times, The Atlantic and The Washington Post to name but a brief sample of over a thousand sources.
This is a clear demonstration of the difference between a propagandist hack and an actual Journalist. I suppose CJ can count at least one credible character amongst his fans:
- Thanks to @SpeakAtheism for bringing this to my attention ↩
- It seems my prediction about a deletion was correct. CJ Werleman used an instance of violence commited by a Muslim and presented it as an instance of violence commited against Muslims. This claim remained in his article for over a month – used as a jumping off point to whip up hysteria about anti-Muslim attacks. The comments section – filled with many instances of annoyance at this failure of journalism appear to have been deleted and reset. Instead of offering a footnote, or correction of this untruth, Middle East Eye & Werleman feel the appropriate response is to delete it and therefore pretend it never happened. This speaks volumes about their attitudes towards ethics and journalism. ↩