What’s Wrong with the New York Post’s Menachem Stark Story


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The backlash to the ugly New York Post story on murdered developer Menachem Stark has been covered elsewhere. His brother-in-law wrote an angry response of his own.

But let’s look at what is actually wrong with the New York Post’s Stark story by Larry Celona, Jamie Schram and Aaron Short, aside from its ugly tone.

1. The New York Post calls Menachem Stark a slumlord. That’s a meaningless term in New York City’s combative landlord-tenant wars where lawsuits come easy, non-profit advocacy groups are eager to get involved and everyone raises their accusations to 11.

Anyone who deals with renting apartments to low income residents is going to be called a slumlord and sued sooner or later. It’s an entire industry and a fact of life.

2. The New York Post relies on anonymous sources for its most damning accusations.

“Any number of people wanted to kill this guy,” one law-enforcement source said of Menachem “Max” Stark, 39, describing the father of eight as embroiled in several “shady” real-estate transactions and being up to his tuchus in debt.

“He owed a lot of people money,” said another source.

Starting off an article with anonymous sources is rarely a good sign. Especially if you’re talking about a dead man. And what follows are more anonymous sources and claims.

“He’s a Hasidic Jew from Williamsburg, and we think he’s a scammer,” another investigator said of Stark, who had defaulted on more than $30 million in real-estate loans in recent years and owed tens of thousands in penalties for building violations. “He f–ked over a few people,” the source added.

Who is this investigator? Is this the same person as the anonymous law enforcement source? But then the New York Post really leaps headlong into the sewer.

Many on Stark’s enemies list took to social media Saturday — and not to mourn his passing. “His slanted shtreimel on his head gives his crookedness away,” one commenter wrote on Failed Messiah, referring to the victim’s fur hat in a photo.

Failed Messiah isn’t “social media”, it’s an Anti-Semitic hate site.

There’s no reason to think that anonymous commenters on an Anti-Semitic hate site are Stark’s enemies. They would respond in the same exact way to a story about any Orthodox Jew.

The New York Post could have just as easily quoted commenters on Stormfront or any Neo-Nazi site with the same results.

If the previous anonymous sources had been remotely defensible from the standpoint of journalism, quoting random anonymous comments on a hate site isn’t.

The New York Post responded to the backlash with this statement;

“A spokesman for The Post said the paper’s reporting simply pointed out that basic fact. “The Post does not say Mr. Stark deserved to die, but our reporting showed that he had many enemies, which may have led to the commission of this terrible crime,” the spokesman said.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family at this time of loss.”

But the New York Post article by Larry Celona, Jamie Schram and Aaron Short did not point out basic facts. Or any facts.

Larry Celona, Jamie Schram and Aaron Short collected anonymous attacks, some from internet commenters on Failed Messiah, a hate site targeting Orthodox Jews, and compiled them into an article.

The New York Post article hardly quoted anyone by name. It dealt with very few specific accusations. Instead it put together vague accusations that can’t be pinned down from anonymous sources with no name.

That’s not journalism. It’s not reporting. It certainly isn’t basic fact.

I don’t know Menachem Stark. I have no idea what really happened and I can’t speak to his character. But I can speak to the character of Larry Celona, Jamie Schram and Aaron Short. And their journalistic abilities.

If your news story harvests anonymous comments from an Anti-Semitic hate site about a murdered man, you’re not reporting facts. You’re not not reporting anything at all. You’re spewing hate for your own reasons.

  • Smoking Hamster

    The wiki description of the blogger who publishes Failed Messiah.

    “was described as “without doubt one of the Jewish blogosphere’s most respected and erudite commentators” by the Israeli daily Haaretz”

    Absolutely convinced that I despise that blog now. If it is praised by self0hating Haaretz than it can’t be good.

    • Daniel Greenfield

      Who exactly respects it in the Jewish blogsphere?

  • mark

    They didn’t even have the correct number of kids Mr. Stark left behind. it is only 7 not 8.
    They failed to mention that there own building at 1211 Avenue of the Americas had 298 DOB violations. And that is without any residential tenants.

  • Laura

    Good points. Thank you.

  • Howie S.

    Thank you, Mr. Greenfield, for your well-written and articulate article on the most despicable and deplorable article many of us have ever seen. FailedMessaiah is the handiwork of one deranged, abused, neglected loser who spews his venom to an audience with similar shortcomings looking to monger hate. Apparently, NYPost’s finest (and not just the 3 poor excuse for journalists) are part of that worthy audience.

  • Suzanne

    I agree that the New York Post was wrong in having a headline like that. In any decent society, people should be presumed innocent until proven guilty and the guy was horribly murdered leaving behind a wife and seven kids. There is also always the real chance of antisemitism resulting from sensational news stories. After all, history is replete with cases of those looking to do violence against ALL Jews whether or not the antics of one is true or not. (For the anti-semites, if there was a crook among them – they would never consider collective violence against their own).

    Also – justifiably hate it or not, the website, Failed Messiah, does post mostly about the Haredi community. While I’m not a member of the Haredi community, I’m sure that the vast majority of their adherents are completely decent and law abiding people. That being said, I don’t think it’s wrong to post about problems that are unique to ANY group – that is if you’re truly reporting facts and not being prejudicial about it. People post about Catholics, the Amish, the Democrats the Tea Partyers etc and If there are things that are unjust and wrong within ANY group – then maybe a website can help to put pressure on it so it will clean up it’s act.

  • scallywag

    Although no one can ever condone murder, not even the NY Post, the media alike haven’t sought to murder Menachem Stark but raise uncomfortable awkward questions and observations as to how the landlord went about operating as many as 17 residential buildings to the continual detriment of tenants, business associates, contractors, building and city violation codes and yet somehow remained ever powerful, financially buoyant and possibly embroiled in a variety of schemes which may have seen him purposefully default on loans so family members could then buy them on the cheap. All possible reasons that can get a man killed if they are perceived to cross a line in certain quarters.

    The man’s murder may have nothing to do with his character, or the lack of it, or the fact that he was Jewish but perhaps more to do with some possibly shady dealings that were even too deep for the seasoned finagler…..

    http://scallywagandvagabond.com/2014/01/menachem-stark-murdered-jewish-real-estate-developer-celebrate-vilify/

    • Daniel Greenfield

      Questions should be raised based on facts and evidence, not on vague anonymous quotes

  • Suzanne

    Also – just looked at Failed Messiah again. I will concede that it’s not necessary to post about the legal troubles of ordinary people who have no real leadership positions in or outside of the Jewish community. That can be anti-Semitic if you’re just targeting one group and just dragging their name through the mud again for all to see. – Also, if you want to see who’s been arrested – you can look at any official crime report. But when a big leader does something illegal, or if there seems to be systemic problems within a given community that’s harmful to that community’s members or outsiders – I don’t necessarily think it’s wrong to report it.

  • jagiela

    Refering to “Failed Messiah” as an “anti semetic hate site” shows only your own racism and bigotry. The site is to promote anti Zionist Judaism- a very long and honorable form of Judaism that removes the hatred and bigotry found in the ZIonist entity

    As for the rest of your rant, the use of anonymous sources is, unfortunately, very common in the media. However, why is it only a problem when a ruthless left wing slumlord is killed?

    • Daniel Greenfield

      You’re not really helping Failed Messiah.

    • Brian Geary

      Yes, and likening a Jewish man (Rosenberg) to nazis and stormfronters is just further evidence of deep hatred held for Jews.

    • SCREW SOCIALISM

      jagiela, How about FAILED PROPHET MUHAMMED?

      The prophet of Satan called Muhammed certainly wins the contest of Most Evil Figure of the 7th Century onwawrd.

      • jagiela

        The issue concerned the slander that the website “FailedMessiah” was somehow anti semetic. As usual from the Zionazi media, they equate opposition to ZIonazism with hatred of Jews. They are not the same thing

        Over two thirds of the world’s Jews refuse to live in ZIonaziland. Now, except for the cowards among them-which are many- these people reject the siren song of the Zionazis

        • Daniel Greenfield

          Your math is as bad as your grammar and your character.

          • jagiela

            Which is your ay of saying “The rest of the Zionist movement is just like me. We’re all a bunch of cowards who resort to being keyboard warriors because them Palestinian children have little rocks to throw at us and even if I have an American bought machine gun, they might still win and hurt me.”

          • Daniel Greenfield

            So are the Palestinian Muslim terrorists being oppressed by keyboard warriors?

            They must not be very good terrorists

          • jagiela

            The Palestinians aren’t terrorists- they are the ones fighting terrorism.

          • Daniel Greenfield

            They’re fighting themselves? Quite a schizophrenic achievement.

    • Steven M Tenneshaw

      I think u jigged when u shoulda jagged.

  • Nietzschele Zarathustra

    Daniel Greenfield,

    New Yorkers, and folks around the world commend you for your heroic efford in exposing a horrid reporting by the Post. The Post incided hate out of a simple tragedy. Tragedy and Hate always had an intimate relationship. Some post’ writers would sell their own soul for a good story, and did precisely that here.

    Mein Kamph would likely read by way of that Post report.

    • Daniel Greenfield

      Great name BTW

    • SCREW SOCIALISM

      Today it’s Mein Koran.

      • Jeff Putterman

        Go back under your rock, you ignorant boor.

        • Daniel Greenfield

          The only missing rock here is yours

          • Jeff Putterman

            Go spread herpes you pnis licker.

          • Daniel Greenfield

            You are a truly classy gentleman, sir.

          • Jeff Putterman

            Finally you say something intelligent. Now go back under your rock, gusano.

          • Daniel Greenfield

            Sorry, but you’ve taken up all the room under all the rocks already.

            Good luck with that.

          • Jeff Putterman

            Once an asshole, always a greenfield.

            Your mother is calling you, twerp. Go do what you do best. Under your rock.

          • Daniel Greenfield

            Have you ever considered learning to play the Viola?

          • Jeff Putterman

            So we could do duets? Me on viola; you on skinflute?

            No thanks, gusano.

  • Biron_1

    If the loan defaults and stories about the tenants who were stiffed on four months security on a vacated building are true then I’m not surprised the Post used anonymous sources to get juicier and less reliable information. The consensus is that the victim was involved in questionable (putting it mildly) business practices.

    I’m not buying the story line that the murder was a random act of anti-semitism. It’s far more likely that there was a motive, and I it’s plausible that someone who (allegedly) defaults on tens of millions of dollars of loans, stiffs tenants and contractors would find himself a victim. It might also be that he was an extremely successful honest businessmen who outmaneuvered less upright rivals.

    Given the totality of the news on this, unless there is gross misinformation, I would consider the posts reporting to be very aggressive, but not irresponsible. While Mr. Stark did not deserve to die I believe that his allegedly malevolent acts are newsworthy and the Post’s anonymous sources are intriguing.

    The author’s comparison of the Post to neo-nazi sites is sickening. The statement:

    “The New York Post could have just as easily quoted commenters on Stormfront or any Neo-Nazi site with the same results.”

    is utterly false. I find the author’s remarks far more offensive and out-of-line than anything I read in the Post article.

    • Daniel Greenfield

      For the most part the reporting consists of anonymous quotes.

      The author isn’t comparing the Post to a Neo-Nazi site, but the Post’s use of comments from a hate site.

      If the commenter had read the post, he would know that.

      • Biron_1

        Yes, I read the Post, and then reread the Post and I do agree that the Post was irresponsible for posting the remark about the shtreimel, which is clearly anti-semitic. While I’m offended by the mention Stormfront and the mention of neo-nazis, I can understand Greenfield’s revulsion.

  • Brian Geary

    Attacking Shmarya Rosenberg is anti-semitism of the worst kind. You hatred and vitriol against him is clearly because he is Jewish. Clearly, you don’t think that a Jewish man has a right to run a blog or speak his own opinion.

  • Joe

    First great article I read about the post. The New York post has one agenda here, and that is to legitimize the murder of a Jew.

  • FM

    Failed Messiah = self hating Jew

    • jagiela

      FailedMessiah = good decent Jews who hate the racism and bigotry of their fellow Jews in the Zionist movement

      • Daniel Greenfield

        Failed Messiah is less anti-zionist than broadly anti-Jewish

        • jagiela

          No, its anti Zionist. You just can’t accept the difference between Jew and Zionist. You should reform your warped view of the world.

          • Daniel Greenfield

            He’s just opposed to chassidic groups that are anti-zionist.

  • Berk

    A terrible tragedy has befallen the Stark family, who even if the New York Post facts were true
    that Max had enemies who wanted him dead, the family was not at fault, and they shouldn’t have written unsympathetic words on the papers front page when the wound is
    still raw and the pain is still fresh. An apology that they just pointed out that
    basic fact and that the Post does not say Mr. Stark deserved to die etc. does
    not right the insensitive cruel headline.

  • joe

    Great Article.
    Thanks

  • joe

    Just to add one point to your great article.
    “He’s a Hasidic Jew from Williamsburg, and we think he’s a scammer,” another investigator said of Stark,”

    This statement has a definite antisemitic ring to it, just Imagine the following statement

    “He was a Black guy from Harlem, we think he is a drug dealer.”

    Even IF an Investigator really said it, you don’t repeat it!

  • x

    Failed Messiah is quite a lot of things, and not at all my perspective, but anti-Orthodox is not antisemitic. Come on.

    • Daniel Greenfield

      Being critical of a religion is not anti-semitic. Dedicating all your time to attacking any and all members of that religion is another matter.

  • Daniel Greenfield

    No Jews in the Zionist movement were not supporters of Hitler.

    • jagiela
      • Daniel Greenfield

        When your movement goes down in flames and its survivors are hung as war criminals, you’re the one who needs to learn history

        • jagiela

          exactly, so why do you support the only surviving allies of the Nazis?

          • Daniel Greenfield

            I don’t support the Palestinian Muslims.

          • jagiela

            Still don’t get it- the Zionists are the last surviving supporters of Hitler. I know you can’t face that reality but it is reality It is your delusions, your racism, your bigotry that has caused the world endless pain and suffering.

            But fear not- the Zionists hate Jews. Not only do they want to turn them into pork eating monsters, the Zionists run the world largest mass killing operation of Jews. More Jews have died in Zionist abortion mills than Eichmann’s gas chambers.

            So who hates the Jews?

          • Daniel Greenfield

            The last surviving supporters of Hitler are the Muslims. Mein Kampf really sells well there.

          • jagiela

            Just keep repeating the lie, just like Goebbels taught you

  • Shoshannah

    I am certainly not a forensic expert or profiler, but I find it unusual that the majority of the comments and perceptions of this crime have thoroughly ignored this for what it is and what it was meant to be. It’s a statement. A symbol of Jewish observance (bear with me for a second please) is Hassidism. Some Jews agree with it and some don’t but it’s still a symbol. It comes from the word pious. And no, I am not Hassidic so I’m not defending “myself” here. He’s in big business (defaulting on loans or not he is involved) and one or more people obviously want him to pay for something he did to them or someone paid them to do it. He is kidnapped in plain view of security cameras. Immediately kidnapping makes it a story whether he is harmed or not. The perpetrator(s) wanted something we don’t know yet but they took time. And then they strangled him and then they set him on fire the day before Shabbos and left him in a dumpster to be found that way. Am I the only one here who finds this scenario extremely familiar? I’m just curious. At any rate, no matter what he did or did not do in life, I’ll keep everyone hurt by it all in my prayers. TY for the article.