Alison Weir at Stanford
Code of conduct for columnists: "As a newspaper columnist .....I will disclose potential conflicts to readers whenever possible...."
Today I sent the following email to the New York Times Public Editor's office:
In September 2014, New York Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan wrote: "The Times could do a lot more to alert readers about conflicts of interests of sources used by the paper."
Similarly, The Times could and should do much more to alert readers to the conflict of interest of its own writer, David Brooks.
In the Hebrew edition of the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz (but not, it seems, in the English language edition), it came out that the son of New York Times columnist David Brooks, who sometimes writes about Israel-Palestine, has been serving in the Israeli military.
Yet, to date the New York Times has neither revealed this conflict of interest to the public nor taken any disciplinary action regarding Mr. Brooks' violation of the Times' ethics requirements.
The Times' 1999 "Guidelines on Our Integrity"state:
"At a time of growing and even justified public suspicion about the impartiality, accuracy and integrity of some journalists and some journalism, it is imperative that The Times and its staff maintain the highest possible standards to insure that we do nothing that might erode readers’ faith and confidence in our news columns. This means that staff members should be vigilant in avoiding any activity that might pose an actual or apparent conflict of interest and thus threaten the newspaper’s ethical standing."
The Times' statement of principles, "Ethical Journalism: A Handbook of Values and Practices for the News and Editorial Departments" includes the following statements:
"The goal of The New York Times is to cover the news as impartially as possible… and to be seen to be doing so. The reputation of The Times rests upon such perceptions…"
"In keeping with its solemn responsibilities under the First Amendment, The Times strives to maintain the highest standards of journalistic ethics."
"Conflicts of interest, real or apparent, may come up in many areas……. professional activities of… family… can create conflicts or the appearance of conflicts."
"The Times believes beyond question that its staff shares the values these guidelines are intended to protect;"
"The Times views any deliberate violation of these guidelines as a serious offense that may lead to disciplinary action, potentially including dismissal…"
"…a daughter in a high profile job on Wall Street might produce the appearance of conflict for a business reporter or editor."
"Any staff member who sees a potential for conflict… in the activities of… relatives must discuss the situation with his or her supervising editor and the standards editor or the deputy editorial page editor."
The ethics handbook also states: "In all cases The Times depends on staff members to disclose potential problems in a timely fashion so that we can work together to prevent embarrassment for staff members and The Times."
Did Mr. Brooks do so?
The Times' handbook also says:
"In some cases, disclosure is enough. But if The Times considers the problem serious, the staff member may have to withdraw from certain coverage. Sometimes an assignment may have to be modified or a beat changed. In a few instances, a staff member may have to move to a different department – from business and financial news, say, to the culture desk – to avoid the appearance of conflict."
Will The Times now take actions regarding David Brooks in line with its own ethics requirements?
Will it publicly and consistently disclose that Mr. Brooks' son is serving in the Israeli military and was doing so while he was commenting on Israel without disclosing this fact to readers?
Will the Times discipline Mr. Brooks for his violation of the newspaper's ethical requirements?
If he is to continue his employment at The Times, will the Times prohibit him from commenting on subjects in which Israel is involved?
Incidentally, a number of other journalistic codes of ethics contain similar requirements.
The "Statement of Principles" of the American Society of Newspaper Editors says: "Journalists must avoid... any conflict of interest or the appearance of conflict."
NPR's code of ethics states: "All NPR journalists... must tell our supervisors in advance about potential conflicts of interest....... This includes situations in which a... family member... is an active participant in a subject area that you cover."
The Los Angeles Times ethics code states:
"Activities of family members may create conflicts of interest...... the paper may restrict a staff member’s assignment based on the activities of a family member or loved one. Staff members are responsible for informing a supervisor whenever a companion’s or close relative’s activities, investments or affiliations could create a conflict."
Public Editor Margaret Sullivan has now posted the following commentary (it appears that this was being posted at the same time that I was posting my own blog entry above). Below is this piece, with my comments in brackets.
Should David Brooks Disclose His Son’s Israeli Military Service?
Updated on Wednesday, October 8, 2014 at 08:09AM by [Alison Weir
It has now come out that David Brooks' son is serving in the Israeli military. So while Brooks was providing pro-Israel commentary during Israel's massacre in Gaza, his son was serving in the IDF. This clear conflict of interest should have required Brooks to recuse himself from commenting on Israel. Journalistic ethics now require the New York Times, NPR, and PBS to (1) reveal Brooks' conflict of interest, (2) apologize for not revealing this sooner, and (3) remove him as a commentator because of his dishonesty in neither recusing himself nor in revealing this essential fact to listeners – and, I assume, to these news organizations themselves...
David Brooks' son is in the Israeli Military... Inside & outside the Mondoweiss, Common Dreams loop...
The following explores a variety of cover-ups and sort of cover-ups...
Now we learn, through an article in Jewish Journal, that Brooks' son is in the Israeli military. In other words, he has a profound conflict with impartiality, as the New York Times ethics code calls it, and Brooks, the Times, NPR, etc. have not revealed this to the public.
The Jewish Journal article reports:
One of the more interesting nuggets buried in a long, Hebrew-language interview with New York Times columnist David Brooks in the recent Ha'aretz magazine is the revelation, toward the very end, that Brooks's oldest son serves in the Israel Defense Forces.
I find it interesting, and disturbing, that Ha'aretz hid this information from its English readers.
(By the way, I have written extensively about numerous journalists having close personal and family ties to the Israeli military – see below.)
Philip Weis has a strong article that tells about Brooks' reporting, and notes:
"So when David Brooks was commenting favorably on Israel’s onslaught on Gaza this summer on National Public Radio, his son was serving in the Israeli army. Why didn’t NPR tell us?"
It is ironic, then, that Weiss also decides not to tell readers insider information he feels they shouldn't know:
"This is now the third Times reporter/writer whose son has gone into the Israeli Defense Forces. Famously Ethan Bronner, of course... and a third person I will not identify (I know the individual personally, the beat didn’t involve the Middle East, the son left before long)."
Weiss's reluctance to share his insider information with others is a bit reminiscent of Ha'aretz. Perhaps it's ok, since this is a personal friend. But it shows again that some are inside a loop that the rest of us aren't.
This is also reminiscent of Common Dreams, which exposed an Israel-partisan who posed as an anti-Semite on numerous websites, but refused to disclose his name, thus keeping its insider information away from the rest of us – even though many of our websites may also have been victimized by this infiltrator.
Again, some are in the loop. The rest of us aren't.
Some of my articles on US journalists' personal ties to the Israeli military
"Apart from Israel's ability to defend itself, there never was – and probably will never be – a more important strategic asset to [Israel than its relationship with the United States." The strategic asset in the special relationship "is the US for Israel, not the other way around."
Following are a few short questions for the New York Times in regard to a recent news report:
Tapper's alma mater states that many of its students report that their experiences in Israel [from the school trips there] "are life-changing; they return... with greater maturity as well as a stronger personal connection to Israel and their Jewish roots." The school emphasizes: "...we are committed to the centrality of Israel and the State of Israel."
Since US media are reporting the latest Israeli massacre in Gaza as though it is a defensive action, I thought I would set the record straight. Israeli forces shelled and invaded Gaza BEFORE the rockets began. Rockets were fired only after numerous Palestinians, including many children, had been killed... here are my photos of Gaza BEFORE any rockets had been fired into Israel.
People should be aware that Wikipedia, Facebook and other places sometime contain individuals who post items while misleading people about their identities.
Please keep in mind that facebook and other online forums are in many ways anonymous and, according to several articles in the israeli media and elsewhere, are infiltrated by IDF soldiers and students with false identities. See, for example http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/142374#.UHjVdRgYLuw and http://electronicintifada.net/content/ei-exclusive-pro-israel-groups-plan-rewrite-history-wikipedia/7472 and http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/israeli-students-get-2000-spread-state-propaganda-facebook
I expect that some of the posts critical of me originate with such "trolls," as they are apparently called.
My latest article is at http://honorlibertyvets.org/legion.html
Of course, now Israel partisans (and probably these reprehensible American Legion bigwigs) will claim I'm "anti-Semitic," a foolish and unfounded charge. Of course, the last refuge of scoundrels is name-calling.
I've recently written an article about the upcoming day of national observance, "Education and Sharing Day." The article reveals that the person being honored on this day taught that Jews and non-Jews are different species and that non-Jews were put on earth to serve Jews. My main source (there are also others) is Israel Shahak, an Israeli professor whose books were praised by Edward Said, Noam Chomsky, Gore Vidal, Catholic News, Jewish Socialist, London Review of Books, and others. Imagine if we had a national day honoring someone who said that Jews were only put on earth to serve non-Jews... there would be an uproar (and should be). Yet, the reverse has been going on for 36 years...
"...not everyone is afraid, and not every voice can be silenced..."
CounterPunch, March 16, 2001
A British writer named Alison Weir is receiving threats and harrassment from Israel partisans who have her mixed up with me. I hope others will help me spread the word that she is NOT the one they wish to hurt.
She is the author of apparently excellent books about British history, and she should be allowed to continue her life and her work without being attacked by pro-Israel fanatics who can't even get their target straight.
Below is her email to me:
I write to appeal to you to make your disclaimer more prominent on your websites. You can see, on my website www.alisonweir.org.uk, that I have very prominent disclaimers on the Home and Contact pages, and today I have had to make them even more prominent. I still receive emails from people who think I am you, and today I received one that was so obscene and threatening that I have reported it to the police.
It is clear from emails from readers that some have stopped buying my books because they think they are written by you, and various worrying incidents during US book tours have made me feel that it is unsafe to visit the States, and - a nervous traveller to begin with - I have stopped touring. All this because of a name - but it should not be impacting on my career, and I shouldn't have to keep defending myself against complaints that have nothing to do with me.
Everyone should have the right to the free expression of their views, but please could you work with me to make it absolutely clear that we are not one and the same person.
I have copied in my literary agent and my US publishers so that they are aware of this situation.
I have now emailed some of David Horowitz's websites that attack me asking them to always tells readers that I am NOT THE British historian. I'll let you know if I hear anything back from them.
The Horowitz-connected website, DiscoverTheNetworks, has now added this information.
Yesterday I also wrote several other such sites, including the ADL, but none of them have yet replied and none, so far, seem to have added the clarification requested.
... there is in Halacha the most glaring discrimination between Jews and non Jews, omitted by Bialoguski and most "authorities" who write about Judaism. This is the issue of punishment to be inflicted according to Halacha on a Jew who steals. If he steals from a Jew he has to pay twice the value of what he had stolen, or return what he had stolen, if possible, and pay its value in addition. The first part is regarded as the restitution and the other as the punishment. But in case of Jew stealing from a non Jew he is only to pay the value of what he had stolen, only because he had stolen from a non Jew. The reason given by Maimonides, following the Talmud, is that in Biblical verse specifying the punishment for theft it is written "he will pay twice to his fellow" and according to Halacha the word "fellow" means only Jews, and excludes the non Jews (Maimonides, Laws of Theft, chapter 2, rule 1)...
...“If you have two people drowning, a Jew and a non-Jew, the Torah says you save the Jewish life first,” Rabbi Ginsburgh told The Jewish Week. ”If every single cell in a Jewish body entails divinity, is a part of God, then every strand of DNA is a part of God. Therefore, something is special about Jewish DNA.” Later, Rabbi Ginsburgh asked rhetorically, “If a Jew needs a liver, can you take the liver of an innocent non-Jew passing by to save him? The Torah would probably permit that."...
The text of my talk at the day-long 2014 National Summit, which C-Span broadcast live from the National Press Club. You can see all the talks on our website...
My Modest Proposal to the Anti-Defamation League (....Foxman's salary is even higher than I thought. The latest info is that it's about $740K, not including $50K benefits.)
From the Independent Middle East Media Center (IMEMC), a must-read source of daily news...
Monday [September 30, 2013] Israeli soldiers invaded different parts of the occupied West Bank, violently broke into several homes and kidnapped at least five Palestinians, including one
... Such a pattern is discouraging... it weights the diplomatic process hopelessly in favor of the materially stronger side that has taken full advantage of the failure to resolve the conflict by grabbing more and more land and resources; it makes it virtually impossible to imagine a just and sustainable peace emerging out of such a process at this stage; it plays a cruel game in which the weaker side is almost certain to be made to seem unreasonable because it will not accept what the stronger side is prepared to offer, which is insultingly little; and it allows the stronger side to use the process and time interval of the negotiations as an opportunity to consolidate its unlawful claims, benefitting from the diversion of attention...
I became curious about the organization "Aish" when I stumled across it while researching my piece on the Weider History Group's censorship, and awhile ago I subscribed to the Aish feed. Today I was amazed to read an article that I found openly supremacist; yet, the author and his editors probably feel he is being wonderfully tolerant and sensitive. In many ways I find it a very sad piece. Below is the article from the Aish website. This was proudly announced in its daily feed. (By the way, I imagine many – perhaps most – Jewish Americans find the attitudes it displays offensive):