The New York Times ombudsman ("public editor") has now said that the Times should disclose to readers the fact that the son of columnist David Brooks, who often comments about Israel, is serving in the Israeli military. Ethics codes require such disclosure.
So far, however, PBS has stated nothing about this, despite the fact that Brooks regularly appears on PBS and was commenting on Israel during its most recent massacre in Gaza, while not disclosing that his son was at the time serving in the Israeli army.
I phoned PBS ombudsman Michael Getler about this last week, and he said he had not known about Brooks' situation until a few of us had emailed him about it.
Getler said that he was friends with Clark Hoyt – the previous New York Times public editor who had written that a Jerusalem bureau chief whose son was serving in the IDF should be assigned to a different beat. He said, however, that he had disagreed with Hoyt's finding.
When I suggested that viewers should at least be informed of Brooks' son, he agreed that this should be done.
Yet, a week later – even after Times ombudsman Margaret Sullivan has publicly recommended public disclosure – there is still no word from Getler or PBS on the situation, even though the PBS ethics code calls for "intellectual honesty and transparency."
I have no idea why PBS is taking so long over this. I'm beginning to wonder whether Getler himself may have family connections to Israel and its military that could cause him discomfort in tackling this issue.
Either way, journalistic ethics require that the network divulge Brooks' conflict of interest.