Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Back to Opinion

AP vs. Matti Friedman — Fight Gets Ugly

Journalists and Palestinian protesters take cover from Israeli fire at a demonstration / Getty Images

(JTA) — Whatever the circumstances surrounding Matti Friedman’s departure from The Associated Press in 2011, it’s safe to say he’s not returning anytime soon.

The former reporter and editor with the international wire service’s Jerusalem bureau made waves in August with a remarkably popular Tablet essay in which he argued that the Western media had a “hostile obsession with Jews.” In a second essay, published Sunday in The Atlantic, Friedman insisted that Western journalists depict the Jews of Israel “more than any other people on earth as examples of moral failure,” and accused AP staffers of a number of questionable journalistic practices.

While the first essay prompted a slew of raves and rebuttals, including a response from former AP Jerusalem Bureau Chief Steve Gutkin, the second was apparently too much for the media giant. The AP shot back at its former employee Monday with an online statement one day after his piece went live on The Atlantic’s website.

“Over the past three months, in one media forum after another, Matti Friedman … has eagerly offered himself as an authority on international coverage of Israel and the Palestinian territories, repeatedly referencing the AP. His arguments have been filled with distortions, half-truths and inaccuracies, both about the recent Gaza war and more distant events,” the statement began.

The AP went on to respond to several of Friedman’s specific points and concluded that it is “misleading and disingenuous [of Friedman] to selectively pick examples of our work to promote narrow viewpoints.”

Not surprisingly, Friedman is sticking to his guns. He took to Facebook to switch roles from seemingly even-keeled professional critic to something more like embittered former employee.

“The executives at the AP face a choice between behaving like journalists and behaving like a corporation; they‘ve chosen the latter,” he wrote Tuesday. “A reader able to get past the bombastic rhetoric and sweeping denials understands that the response doesn’t make the smallest dent in the factual basis of my argument or say anything of importance about my essay — but it certainly says a lot about the thinking of senior people in the ‘news industry.’”

As long as the AP and Friedman’s divorcee drama unfolds, Friedman’s work will likely garner even more attention. Depending on your perspective, he’s either a stone-slinging David defending Israel from the Goliath of unfair media coverage or a disgruntled former employee lashing out and looking for attention.

It will be interesting to see how much damage Friedman’s pebbles — or in this case his pen — can do.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.