The Sins of the Fathers? NYT Tars Mel Gibson With His Dad's Extremist Views

December 7th, 2005 9:55 AM

The New York Times just can't forgive Mel Gibson for making "Passion of the Christ." Editor-columnist Frank Rich assailed it, most amusingly when he predicted it would be "a flop in America" and rather appallingly when he called it "a joy ride for sadomasochists" and accused Gibson of anti-Semitism.

Wednesday's paper dredges up the anti-Semitic charge in a front-page business-section story by David Halbfinger promoted on the "Inside Box" on the front page with this heavy language:

"Mel Gibson, whose 'Passion of the Christ' was assailed by some critics as an anti-Semitic passion play -- and whose father has been on record as a Holocaust denier -- has a new project under way: a nonfiction mini-series for television about the Holocaust."

Halbfinger's actual story begins in the same loaded way:

"Mel Gibson, whose 'Passion of the Christ' was criticized by some as anti-Semitic - and whose father has said that the Holocaust did not happen -- is developing a nonfiction mini-series about the Holocaust."

According to the Times, Gibson is tarred by the Holocaust denial of his father. Reporter Halbfinger puts Gibson on defense:

"Mel Gibson, for his part, when asked by an interviewer in early 2004 whether the Holocaust happened, responded that some of his best friends 'have numbers on their arms,' then added: 'Yes, of course. Atrocities happened. War is horrible. The Second World War killed tens of millions of people. Some of them were Jews in concentration camps.' But in the same interview, Mr. Gibson said his father had 'never lied to me in his life,' and Holocaust scholars have cited those and other statements as evidence that he had failed to disassociate himself clearly from his father's views."

The actor himself doesn't deny the Holocaust, saying: "Yes, of course. Atrocities happened."

Yet the paper has been far more forgiving of, say, the actual Holocaust denial of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, who wrote a book asserting that Zionists collaborated with Nazis during World War II to kill Jews and stir sympathy for the creation of the State of Israel.

According to Nexis, the Times has made only one reference in a news report to the Holocaust denial of Abbas (also known as Abu Mazen), a few months before he became Palestinian prime minister in May 2003. The Times also mentioned it in two editorials in 2003.

By contrast, the Times has run five news reports (including a 3,000-word magazine piece) that brought up the beliefs of Mel Gibson's obscure father, and the predictable Frank Rich added three additional columns to that number.

For more examples of New York Times bias, visit TimesWatch.