How the Vail Daily Stereotyped a Burglar--And Fired Up Controversy

June 30 2009, 10:50 AM

Lately, the letters to the Vail Daily about the newspaper's coverage of home burglaries in Edwards have been hot and angry. "It sounds a lot like one of Joseph Goebbels' finer works of propaganda," one reader wrote. As the Daily notes in its own coverage of the controversy, some readers were offended by an article in last week's newspaper that described a man suspected of home break-ins as being "of Jewish or Eastern European descent." An Eagle County Sheriff's Office press release noted that the suspect has "dark hair, large nose, pierced ears, narrow face and eyes that were close together."

"The 'large nose,' unfortunately, is an old and reviled Jewish stereotype which readers felt we have perpetuated," the Daily wrote, apologizing for "sloppy editing rather than any individual or institutional bigotry." Denver Post columnist Susan Greene points out that the Daily and associated newspapers that printed the story essentially reported that "Eagle County is on the lookout for a big-nosed Jew." She also quoted the Daily's managing editor, Matt Zalaznick, as saying that despite the apology, he stands by the idea that there is a specific Jewish look--even though he's Jewish and doesn't "have it." He added, "I think of Jews as an ethnicity and a culture. I know that upsets people. But I think it's the truth."