As I predicted, the New York Times management is ignoring evidence of Ethan Bronner's Israel-centric reporting and is, so far, keeping him on as their Jerusalem bureau chief.
Editor Bill Keller explains in a blog posting that the Times' "rulebook leaves us wide latitude," that they're not going "to capitulate to the more savage partisans," and that they're not even going to listen to their own ombudsman, Readers Representative Clark Hoyt, who, in a column to be published in tomorrow's paper, recommends moving Bronner:
But, stepping back [Clark writes], this is what I see: The Times sent a reporter overseas to provide disinterested coverage of one of the world’s most intense and potentially explosive conflicts, and now his son has taken up arms for one side. Even the most sympathetic reader could reasonably wonder how that would affect the father, especially if shooting broke out.
...this is not about punishment; it is simply a difficult reality. I would find a plum assignment for him somewhere else, at least for the duration of his son’s service in the I.D.F.
Keller claims, referring to Hoyt's column, "...everyone you interviewed for your column concurs that Ethan Bronner is fully capable of continuing to cover his beat fairly."
Actually, Hoyt, who perhaps due to lack of personal expertise in the region praises Bronner's "excellent track record," references only three interviews with people concerning Bronner's work (other than with Keller himself): one was quoted significantly out of context and the other two were former Times' journalists.
Keller neglects to mention that in his column Clark writes that he had heard from 400 readers, "...many of them convinced that Bronner could not continue in his current assignment," and who, quite likely, would have given a substantially different assessment of Bronner's work if Clark had bothered to interview them.
Interestingly, Clark reports that Bronner had told him that his son "joined in late December for roughly a year of training and six months of active duty before he returns to the United States for college." Normally, Israeli soldiers are required to serve in the Israeli reserves for decades. Did Bronner fail to inform Mr. Clark of this fact? Or did Mr. Clark choose not to inform readers of it?
Not surprisingly, the Times again chooses to ignore our studies demonstrating the Times' distortion on this issue. Similarly, there is no mention of the excellent book "Israel-Palestine on Record: How the New York Times Misreports Conflict in the Middle East," co-authored by distinguished Princeton Emeritus Professor Richard Falk detailing the Times' flawed coverage.
Apparently, Mr. Keller is unconcerned that skewed Times' coverage enables tragic and profoundly destructive US policies, destroying thousands of lives. Unlike Mr. Keller, some of us care. I wonder if we're the "savage partisans" to whom he refers.
Clark writes, "Nobody at The Times wants to give in to what they see as relentlessly unfair criticism of the paper’s Middle East coverage by people hostile to objective reporting."
While it's true that Bronner himself talks of "narratives," and Israel partisans oppose objective reporting, I personally have been pleading for it for many years. The Times, sadly, seems to have little interest in giving it to us on Israel-Palestine.