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‘Too many’ Jews in the media?

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Are there too many Jews in the media?

That was the question posed on a recent edition of the Canadaland podcast, hosted by Jesse Brown. Brown opened the episode by reading an email from one of his listeners, whom he left unnamed.

That person wrote: “I was debating about writing you because there is no way of tackling this subject I’m about to address without looking like a hater/nutter/racist. But I am not, and I feel you are an understanding guy, so I figured I’d take a chance and write you… In [a previous Canadaland podcast], I believe you scoffed at the notion that Jews controlled the media. But here’s the thing: they do. I don’t subscribe to some massive Jewish conspiracy. That’s for the nutters and the racists. But surely you, Jesse Brown, must concede the overrepresentation of Jews in the media.

“Look,” the writer concluded, “I have nothing against the Jewish people… who doesn’t love a good baggle [sic]? But serisoisly [sic, again]. You do your listeners a disservice when you try to imply that there is not an overconcentration of Jews in the media.”

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Brown seemed to agree with the writer’s premise, while Sam Bick and David Zinman, hosts of the Montreal-based Treyf podcast, who were Brown’s guests on the episode, took a similar stance. The problem, Bick argued, is that there are too many “white Jewish men” and “white European-descended Jews” in the media. (Zinman added that no one would say there is an overrepresentation of “Mizrachi Jews.”)

I was also a guest on the podcast, and when it was my turn to respond, I pointed out that questions about Jews’ professional orientations have been around for centuries, and that they are often posed by people looking for reasons to hate the Jewish people. Why did so many Jews end up working in the banking and finance sectors, I asked them. It wasn’t, as many conspiracy theorists and anti-Semites would have us believe, part of some grand, nefarious plan to achieve worldwide dominance, but out of historical necessity. After all, Jews weren’t allowed to own land or operate businesses, and so they turned to the one area of work that was still available to them.

Historical precedent aside, though, I don’t see an overrepresentation of Jews in Canadian media, and I think I’ve been around the industry long enough to know. Moreover, however many Jews are employed by Canadian media outlets (and by the way, it would have been instructive for the Canadaland conversation if the host had attempted to quantify his opening salvo with some hard data), they don’t speak in one voice – about Jewish values, Israel or anything else. It’s quite the opposite, actually.

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So, to the Canadaland reader/listener who raised the subject: you can tell everyone you want that you’re not a “hater/nutter/racist,” and that you “don’t subscribe to some massive Jewish conspiracy.” But here’s the thing: if you’re seriously asking that question, you are and you do. I only wish Brown, a journalist I’ve never known to go easy on his subjects, had not gifted you with anonymity. 

Clarification: This article originally stated that Jesse Brown posed the question as to whether there are too many Jews in the media. We have clarified to indicate that Brown did not pose the question himself. Instead, he read an email from an anonymous writer, who suggested that there is an “over concentration of Jews in the media.”