Those of you who have followed the Al Durah controversy and the lawsuits instigated by French journalist Chrarles Enderlin against bloggers accusing him of lying (see my posts under the category “Paris and France2 trial” on the right sidebar) will be interested to learn that Richard Landes has written about Enderlin’s recent talk at Harvard.
Landes’ post makes for sobering reading. It also contains the interesting tidbit that Enderlin casually mentioned that those famous photos of Arafat giving blood after 9/11 were staged, and that Enderlin and the press were well aware of that fact.
Enderlin doesn’t seem to be the least bit apologetic, or even aware that there might be something wrong with this. So much for journalistic ethics—”higher truth” and all that, you know.
Enderlin is a distinguished newsman, somewhat the equivalent of Dan Rather—only worse. He rivals Rather for pomposity and muddy thinking, but his shoddy reporting of the al Durah affair has caused harm far greater than anything Rather managed to perpetrate.
Landes has devoted a great deal of his considerable intelligence and energy to exposing the damage Enderlin has done through his promulgation of falsehoods connected with the al Durah story (see Landes’ website Second Draft and his blog Augean Stables). My guess is that Enderlin must regard Landes, his nemesis, as a sort of Inspector Javert (to use a French literary metaphor), a pitiless fanatic pursuing the well-meaning Enderlin to the ends of the earth in a cold-blooded effort at a false and ultimately doomed “justice.”
But to my way of thinking a more appropriate literary metaphor comes from Russian literature: Porfiry Petrovich, the psychologically astute investigator in Dostoevsky’s masterpiece Crime and Punishment, who:
…has a shrewd understanding of criminal psychology and is exquisitely aware of Raskolnikov’s [the perpetrator's] mental state at every step along the way from the crime to the confession. He is Raskolnikov’s primary antagonist, and, though he appears only occasionally in the novel, his presence is constantly felt.
Yes. Although Enderlin has had only a few face-to-face encounters with Landes, no doubt Landes’ “presence is constantly felt.”
And that’s as it should be.