I have had rather limited exposure to Ami Magazine, so I have no real opinion of it overall. In addition, while interviews with both (Weberman opponent) DA Charles Hynes and Weberman’s attorney, George Farkas, have been published by Ami in rececnt weeks, I only read the Farkas interview, so I might not be the best person to comment on Ami’s coverage of Nechemya Weberman and his trial. That said, here goes:
In Praise of the Coverage
Ami Magazine has received some criticism for its coverage of the Weberman trial. As I disclaimed, I have only seen a portion of their coverage, yet I feel that any criticism of Ami for its pro-Weberman slant (which, as I said, I have not confirmed to be true) should be somewhat restrained.
Advocates for victims of sexual abuse hope for awareness. Ami may be incredibly unhelpful to the case against Nechemya Weberman. But by devoting pages to the subject of child sexual abuse – unlike other Charedi media outlets like the Yated and Matzav.com – they are at least bringing the issue of abuse to the parents and educators of young children.
The phrase “You can never underestimate the stupidity of the general public,” is attributed to Scott Adams. It might similarly be a challenge to underestimate the ignorance of much of the populace, particularly the Orthodox Jewish populace, when it comes to sexual crimes.
I’m not saying Ami’s coverage was good, but I think devoting pages to the Weberman trial is better than the alternative.
Critiquing the Coverage
With the same caveat I offered earlier, I’d like to critique a few more-or-less random points from the Ami article.
- According to Farkas, “the jury was missing all the key information” because the judge held back certain evidence. While I have no doubt that the judge prevented certain evidence from being presented, I’m inclined to think that he had reasons for doing so.
- Farkas claims to be convinced of Weberman’s innocence, pointing out that the entire case depended on the claims of one person. I think it’s also reasonable to remember that A. the entire defense depended on the claims of one person; and B. there is reason to believe that Weberman molested many people, not just the one.
- Farkas stated “I am fully familiar with the case of the four people who were arrested for intimidating and trying to bribe the witness. I am convinced that if it is true, that it was a little punk who set it all up, and the circumstances are completely reprehensible.” I thought this statement indicated a rather strong pro-Satmar bias. Reportedly, the bribe was for half a million dollars and was offered shortly after a communal fundraiser (which, granted, cannot be taken to mean that if fundraiser funds were used for bribery, those who contributed them knew they’d be so used). Is it really so hard to believe the claims that the perpetrators and intimidators were “punks” who did represent the community? Really?