Updated (3:33 p.m.) It's unclear if he was being satirical or just insensitive, but Atlanta Jewish Times owner and publisher Andrew Adler more or less called for President Obama's assassination in his column last week. Gawker's investigative hawk John Cook blogged about the column on Friday, prompting a collective facepalm on Twitter. What in the world was this newspaperman thinking when he wrote this? "Maybe it's meant as parody, I don't know," The Atlantic's Jeff Goldberg wondered, after admitting that he'd first heard of Adler's paper on Friday afternoon. "Not that the Atlanta Jewish Times is known for parody. Or anything." Cook notes that the Atlanta Jewish Times "appears to be a real community newspaper" with "a circulation of 3,500 and a staff of five."
The statement itself does sound ridiculous enough to be described as Swiftian, however:
Three, give the go-ahead for U.S.-based Mossad agents to take out a president deemed unfriendly to Israel in order for the current vice president to take his place, and forcefully dictate that the United States' policy includes its helping the Jewish state obliterate its enemies.
Yes, you read "three" correctly. Order a hit on a president in order to preserve Israel's existence. Think about it. If I have thought of this Tom Clancy-type scenario, don't you think that this almost unfathomable idea has been discussed in Israel's most inner circles?
Really we can imagine one or two answers to the what-was-he-thinking question. The first, Cook addresses in his post: Adler was floating a conroversial-sounding hypothetical to spark a debate. He didn't really want somebody to kill the president over his views on Israel. Adler told Cook, "I wrote it to see what kind of reaction I was going to get from readers." Cook wondered:
And what was the reaction? "We've gotten a lot of calls and emails." [Adler replied]
The second basically awful answer is that Adler meant it, immediately heard from readers that it's an offensively horrible idea and hustled to cover his tracks when it hit Gawker. Who knows -- satire or not, it's certainly sparked a Friday night cocktail conversation topic that nobody's been waiting to have! It's cool to be provocative, especially if you're a journalist or employer of journalists. But it's definitely not cool to put out a hit on the president.
Update: The National Jewish Democratic Council issued a sweeping condemnation of Adler's column on Friday afternoon. "It is the height of irresponsibility to make the horrific suggestion that the State of Israel should assassinate the President of the United States of America," the organizations president and CEO David A. Harris said in a statement provided to The Atlantic Wire. "To dare to give such despicable ideas space in a newspaper -- no less in the words of the paper's owner and publisher, and a Jewish newspaper at that -- is beyond the pale. This episode demonstrates just how low our political discourse has sunk, and I can only hope that it serves as a wake-up call to moderate our public dialogue and tone it down dramatically."