Journalist Falsely Accused Marc Lamont Hill of Gaslighting

Published by Chris Oestereich on

I’m writing a chapter for a book on media bias/misuse in the political arena. The chapter focuses on the fallout from Marc Lamont Hill’s recent UN speech in which he advocated for the rights of the Palestinian people. Yair Rosenberg, a senior writer for Tablet magazine, accused Hill of gaslighting people by claiming that Hill had not called for a return to the pre-1967 borders for Israel in his speech when he claimed to have done so on Twitter.

This is the Tweet where Hill made the claim Rosenberg contested.

Click on the image to view the post on Twitter.

And here’s Rosenberg’s response.

Click on the image to view the post on Twitter.

There are multiple problems with Rosenberg’s tweet, but I’m focused on the claim about the pre-1967 borders. Refuting that claim is straightforward as Hill surely said this. It is loud and clear. I encourage you to verify it for yourself. The speech is just over twenty minutes long, so I’ve set the inset video below to start with the relevant remarks.

( The relevant remarks begin at the 13:56 mark and the “pre-67” comment comes in at 14:21)

Gaslighting is a serious accusation. Rosenberg got it wrong and a review of the replies to his accusation suggests many people believed him. Ethical journalism requires adherence to five core principles: truth and accuracy, independence, fairness and impartiality, humanity, and accountability. As a journalist, Rosenberg has a responsibility to attempt to undo the harm caused by his error, so I’m calling for him to correct the record. I hope he chooses to do so. If he does, I’ll gladly reflect that in my chapter.

It is possible that Rosenberg has already corrected his error, but I’ve searched and found nothing to that effect. If he has done so, I’ll update this post to correct my error and will issue a public apology.

What is gaslighting?

Gaslighting is a form of manipulation where a person attempts to get another person to question their reality, memory or perceptions.

This is a list of common gaslighting techniques (via the National Domestic Violence Hotline). Use of the term has grown to denote attempts to lie in public forums in ways that make people question their memories.

Withholding: the abusive partner pretends not to understand or refuses to listen. Ex. “I don’t want to hear this again,” or “You’re trying to confuse me.”

Countering: the abusive partner questions the victim’s memory of events, even when the victim remembers them accurately. Ex. “You’re wrong, you never remember things correctly.”

Blocking/Diverting: the abusive partner changes the subject and/or questions the victim’s thoughts. Ex. “Is that another crazy idea you got from [friend/family member]?” or “You’re imagining things.”

Trivializing: the abusive partner makes the victim’s needs or feelings seem unimportant. Ex. “You’re going to get angry over a little thing like that?” or “You’re too sensitive.”

Forgetting/Denial: the abusive partner pretends to have forgotten what actually occurred or denies things like promises made to the victim. Ex. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” or “You’re just making stuff up.”