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MSNBC and the Media’s Third Rail

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough took his “friends at Axios” to task over a headline that characterized the students’ letter as “pro-Palestinian,” rather than “pro-Hamas.”
MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough took his “friends at Axios” to task over a headline that characterized the students’ letter as “pro-Palestinian,” rather than “pro-Hamas.” Photo: Shannon Finney/WireImage
Dylan Byers
October 13, 2023

On Friday, I was sitting in an Israeli-American café just off Harvard Square, trying to fathom the fraught scene taking place outside my window. Parked immediately outside the café was a now infamous mobile billboard truck that has been driving around campus, displaying the names and faces of undergrads from the thirty-four student groups that signed a letter by the Harvard Palestine Solidarity Committee blaming Israel for Hamas’s vicious, barbaric attack.

The billboard, paid for by the conservative group Accuracy in Media, declares these students, in Old English font, to be “Harvard’s Leading Antisemites,” and its presence in Cambridge has created a stir. Tensions have flared across campus as Harvard professors and administrators struggle, in tense email threads, to address the acute and contrasting sensitivities of its cosmopolitan student body and distinguished alumni (including Bill Ackman, who is seeking to blacklist the students who signed the letter, and Larry Summers, who condemned university leadership for not denouncing it immediately). Outside the café, a lone security guard fitfully tried to disperse gathering crowds, with limited success—a fitting metaphor, perhaps, for the school’s limited response.