Family Ties

Friday, February 12, 2010


Last weekend, New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief Ethan Bronner revealed that his son had joined the Israel Defense Forces. Amid cries over a conflict of interest – including from the paper’s own ombudsmanTimes executive editor Bill Keller insisted that, as far as he was concerned, Bronner would remain on the beat. Keller talks about the controversy.

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Comments [47]

Jen from Astoria


You've done quite a poor job in explaining you're main point "These analogies are obviously extremely flawed"
It's obviously not so obvious.
How are they flawed?

Can an Arab or Muslim cover the I/P conflict?

Feb. 20 2010 07:01 PM
Hanna from Jerusalem

I have been listening to On the Media for years and am a great fan of the show, but generally find your coverage of stories related to the Middle East lacking. In the case of the Bronner story there was an interesting parallel to a story a few weeks earlier in which OTM scrutinized a reporter's ability to cover the US war in Afghanistan fairly while his son was serving in the army there. Unfortunately, the question regarding Bronner's ability to remain neutral on such slippery territory was not subjected to the same scrutiny.

In the Bronner story, only Bill Keller was allowed to speak and OTM seemed so glad to have him that his arguments were in no way called into question. As I recall, Keller said something about gay reporters covering gay rights issues and reporters of Indian descent covering India. These analogies are obviously extremely flawed, but OTM did not see the need to bring this up. Nor was a another critical voice (whether Ali Abunimah or anyone else) given the chance to speak.

Keller's analogies relate to Bronner being Jewish, not to the fact that his son is serving in an occupying army (in what Brooke called an 'armed conflict'). The more appropriate analogy would have been 'an Indian reporter living in India reporting on Kashmir while his son is in the Indian army in Kashmir.' No matter what side you are on in a conflict, it is not difficult to see that this reporter has chosen one.

I think no one would have a problem with Bronner, a jew and Zionist, covering internal Israeli politics. His unique inside perspective would surely help him get more access, as Keller argued. When it comes to covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, howver - which is his main responsibility - these supposed assets no longer speak in his favor.

Feb. 19 2010 03:34 AM
Fisk-buster from Brooklyn Heights


I am glad your so unsurprised. Bravo. A lot of fluff, though.

I am not surprised that biased sources like Robert Fisk lie about Israel.

I am not surprised that those like you who rely on Robert Fisk as a source, also hold all sorts of anti-Israel views.

I am also not surprised that you resorted to the tactic of falsely claiming that I connected your reading of Robert Fisk with anti-Semitism. That, of course, is not what I said, but Israel bashers love to falsely accuse their debate partners of branding them as anti-Semitic. It's a badge of courage which they can use to make accusations of being stifled etc....

What I did say, is that the specific canard which you repeated "That there is more debate in Israel about Israeli policy than there is in the US is all the more appalling." is "often connected with anti-Semitic overtones" about the Jewish control of debate or media.

So your card has been unsuccessfully played, but thanks for playing.

Now you'll have to continue the discussion on the merits, which I'm afraid will not play to your strengths.



Feb. 19 2010 01:22 AM
Damien from Brooklyn


CAMERA is a well-known for its support for Israel. If you choose not to call it a part of the Israel Lobby, then so be it. It is a pro-Israel media organization and as such its attacks on journalist Robert Fisk do not surprise me any more than attacks from AIPAC do.

I deplore the governments of Arab countries as well as Iran for their suppression of "free debate" as you term it.

I am also not surprised that you have connected my reading of Robert Fisk with anti-Semitism. This choice of yours is regrettable. Of course, your ace has now been played just as it has been most recently against Richard Goldstone for his findings on Israel's 2008 war against Gaza in which n which 1,400 Palestinians and 11 Israelis were killed. This tactic speaks volumes and cheapens any point you might have otherwise made.



Feb. 19 2010 01:01 AM
Fisk-buster from Brooklyn Heights

But this canard is designed to allow the numerous critics and bashers of Israel in the US to claim a phony mantle of squelched victimhood as if somehow they are censored and muzzled in the US from criticizing Israel. Nothing is farther from the truth - but some see it as a valuable way to promote the anti-Israel cause. This canard is often connected with anti-Semitic overtones - the implication that somehow, despite the wave of Israel bashing on American campuses, on neo-Nazi, Islamist and far left websites in the US, and in the mainstream media and publishing world (see Walt & Mearshiemer, Chomsky, Fisk etc..) that somehow the Jewish lobby or the "Israel lobby" which Damien invokes above prevents the debate in the US that happens in Israel. In any case, it's laughable that Damien is "appalled" by his phony assertion of the alleged debate imbalance. And even more interesting to know what Damien thinks about the "free debate" within Arab and Muslim society (see Gaza, Iran etc...) about almost anything.

5. finally the bizarre guilt by association to the "Tea Party" activists - which has nothing whatsoever to do with CAMERA either in content, subject, style, tactics, mission etc... is just a way to obfuscate Damien's uninformed, reflexive "criticism" of CAMERA given his obvious inability to defend Fisk's lies - the subject of CAMERA's pretty straightforward attacks.

So easy to debunk Israel bashers - especially ones who follow the tired, canned, talking points.



Feb. 18 2010 11:25 PM
Fisk-buster from Brooklyn Heights

This "Damien" is really a piece of work.

Let's deconstruct Damien's attack on Kim.
1. "you....have left it to "CAMERA" the notorious Israel lobby group, to form your opinion"

In fact, CAMERA is a media watch group - it is neither "notorious" nor a "lobby"
i.e. that is bold faced lie on Damien's part.

Ironic, as Damien falsely, but unsurprisingly, makes the propagandistic & phony claim that CAMERA's articles are "poorly researched." In fact, they are quite well researched. Damien's branding of CAMERA as a lobby group and his accusation that their work is "poorly research" seems the product of poor research. IF only Damien, like Kim, would admit that he knows little of his subject.

2. "But, alas, CAMERA is an Israel lobby"
- repetition of earlier lie. CAMERA is no more an Israel lobby than "Damien" whoever he is is an anti-Israel lobby.

3. "and it makes sense that they would want to stifle any reasonable portrayal of Israel."

This is a standard Israel-bashing trope. In fact, responding to smears of Israel is actually all about the desire for a reasonable portrayal of Israel rather than the demonizing pack of lies that is the standard pablum of shills for the Palestinian war on Israel, like Fisk, earn their livelihoods making.

4. "That there is more debate in Israel about Israeli policy than there is in the US is all the more appalling."

Another canard of the Israel bashers. There is plenty of debate on Israeli policy in the US. There is more debate about Israeli policy in Israel, duh, because the people in Israel live in Israel. There is also more debate about German, Dutch, Zimbabwean and Moroccan policy in Germany, Holland Zimbabwe and Morocco than there is in the US - surprise.

Feb. 18 2010 11:24 PM
Damien from Brooklyn

Kim Vasquez,

You have admitted to never having read any of Robert Fisk, but have left it to "CAMERA," the notorious Israel lobby group, to form your opinion. The poorly researched articles to which you have provided links are written with the sort of invective tone I thought only possible from "Tea Party" activists. But, alas, CAMERA is an Israel lobby and it makes sense that they would want to stifle any reasonable portrayal of Israel. That there is more debate in Israel about Israeli policy than there is in the US is all the more appalling.

Your one source is very telling and I won't waste any more of your time or mine on the matter.

Feb. 18 2010 05:08 PM
Kim Vasquez

Frankly, I never heard of Robert Fisk until now, but it seems people have found it quite easy to refute his rants and polemics.

Here's a pretty exhaustive list of critiques of his work. I read the first few. These are neither slander, libel, innuendo, suggestion or arguing over matters of opinion.

They are pointing out how Fisk twists the truth, bends the facts, exaggerates - oh let's call it what is in third grade English - how Fisk LIES to promote his worldview and agenda.

Pretty sad.

CAMERA: Robert Fisk
DECEMBER 28, 2005, Robert Fisk: Telling it Like it Isn't. OCTOBER 4, 2004, Exposing False Zionist Quotes ... NOVEMBER 19, 2002, Thumbs Down to Robert Fisk ... - Cached
CAMERA: The Anti-Israel Rant of Robert Fisk
Usual fare on cable TV's Discovery Channel — documentaries about inventions, nature, and archeology — gave way recently to an unabashedly anti-Israel series ... - Cached - Similar
CAMERA: Fisk Warps the Facts
An excerpt from Robert Fisk's book, published on the Independent online edition, provides example after example of why the British journalist's work is seen ... - Cached
CAMERA: Thumbs Down to Robert Fisk
THUMBS DOWN to the London Independent's Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk for possessing such an overactive imagination and obsessive anti-Israel bias ... - Cached

Feb. 18 2010 02:41 PM
Damien from Brooklyn


I am not in the respective "Western-bashing" and "Islamist cabal" camps that you mention. Nor would I consider myself a "worshiper" of the man. His writing and investigative journalism is worth reading.

Disagreeing, though is not the same as discrediting. Clearly you disagree with Robert Fisk's writing, but I have not read anything you've posted or suggested that discredits his work. Slander, libel, innuendo, suggestion, yes, these are all methods by which critics of Robert Fisk have attacked his work.

Feb. 18 2010 11:29 AM
Fisk-buster from Brooklyn Heights


People who agree with Fisk's reflexive Western-bashing and the Islamist cabal who loves him have not discredited him.

People who are aware of Fisk and are not in the above camps, have discredited him. And he's now become a the poster-boy of the unreliability of certain advocate

Pretty straightforward.

Of course all critics of Fisk will be labeled by his worshipers as "biased."

Feb. 18 2010 11:19 AM
Damien from Brooklyn


Yes, I am now familiar with the term, thanks, but this doesn't satisfy the question of who has discredited Robert Fisk. With a wink and a smile the term "fisking" is cute, but rhetorically is little more than name calling. Deploying the term "fisking" doesn't in fact discredit his work any more than "Tea Parties" discredit health care reform in the United States.

Feb. 18 2010 11:05 AM
Fisk-buster from Brooklyn Heights

Dear Damien

Just Google "Fisking"

Enjoy :>


Feb. 18 2010 10:55 AM
Damien from Brooklyn


Well, it is not for me to confer credibility on journalist Robert Fisk as he is the recipient of over 20 awards for journalistic excellence. True, having critics in Arab countries and Israel does not an accomplished journalist one make, but if you examine the criticism leveled at him from Syria or Israel it often is because of those in power are uncomfortable with what he has investigated. Take for example Fisk's reporting on the Hama massacre by Syrian forces in 1982. Syria was none too pleased about Fisk's reporting for the Times. The same was also true for Fisk's reporting on the Sabra & Shatila massacres of 1982 by Israeli back Phalangist militias.

By chance who has discredited Robert Fisk?



Feb. 18 2010 10:45 AM
Fisk-buster from Brooklyn Heights

FYI - here's a great list of criticisms of Fisk's "reporting" on the Arab Israeli conflict.

Fisk's relentless Israel-bashing bias makes him the darling of Islamist websites...



Feb. 18 2010 10:26 AM
Fisk-buster from Brooklyn Heights

And just for those of you who aren't familiar, Damien invokes the widely discredited anti-Western propagandist, Robert Fisk, who inspired the term "fisking"- a poular web meme.

Fisking refers to a point-by-point debunking of the kind of lies and/or idiocies written by those of the Robert Fisk persuasion.

For example, Damien confers undeserved credibility on Fisk through this meaningless statement: "Fisk has the rare distinction of having critics both in Arab countries and Israel."

a. there is nothing rare about being condemned by critics in Arab and Israeli countries. almost anyone who has ever written on the Middle East could easily warrant criticism from someone in every country in the region

b. the fact that one is being criticized by critics in various countries doesn't necessarily say anything positive about their writing - in fact it is quite possible it's just a sign of shoddy writing.



Feb. 18 2010 10:14 AM
Fisk-buster from Brooklyn Heights

Fisking Chris Gray :>

Here's some simple srupulousness with regards to your owned biased and phony accusation.

Please provide a link to your propgandist assertion "Usually there is a similar flood of pro-Israeli posters, as well, when the topic is the I-P issue comes up. Sometimes they run to over one hundred."

You see 'You're entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts.'


Next time, I suggest you simply stick with the anti-Israel talking points - being "creative" doesn't serve your purpose well.



Feb. 18 2010 10:04 AM

Damien, really. LOL

"Fisk has the rare distinction of having critics both in Arab countries and Israel. "

That's hardly a rare distinction, nor proof of anything.

Robert Fisk is a notorious, and discredited anti-Western propagandist whose phony slander masquerading as news pieces are riddled with lies.

Fisk is so infamous for his type of propaganda, that he inspired the term "fisking" - I started with the word "fisking" which refers to a point-by-point debunking of the kind of lies and/or idiocies written by Robert Fisk and his ilk.

Here's a good list of specific critiques of Fisk's anti-Israel rants:


Feb. 18 2010 09:52 AM
Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

To Ms. Vasquez, the call to anti-Israeli activists worked! Usually there is a similar flood of pro-Israeli posters, as well, when the topic is the I-P issue comes up. Sometimes they run to over one hundred.

Glad to see that Brooke didn't see a need to defend herself. She's never pretended to be unbiased and that's not a criticism. As has often been said by many public speakers lately, 'You're entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts.' That is where the scrupulousness comes in.

Feb. 18 2010 09:50 AM
Damien from Brooklyn

Kim Vasquez,

I would be interested in seeing this email about which you speak. I receive lots of spam, but didn't get this message. Please post here if you come across it. Thanks.

Feb. 18 2010 08:27 AM
Damien from Brooklyn

[continued from previous post]
I regularly read Beirut-based English journalist Robert Fisk's column in the Independent as well as his two books on the Middle East and Lebanon respectively. Fisk has the rare distinction of having critics both in Arab countries and Israel. Is he a part of the "plot" against Israel? I don't know of such plot and even if such a conspiracy existed he's not a part of it nor does he receive money or influence from Saudi Arabia, Syria, or any other government for that matter.

Israel is a legitimate country whose existence cannot be questioned. What can be questioned, however is its policies of occupation, it's many wars against Lebanon, and its deliberate targeting of civilians (most recently in Lebanon 2006). Israel receives more than a fair shake by the Western media. Criticism or questioning of Israeli policy, however does not destabilize the very basis of Israel.

If you have not already, please see Robert Fisk's column from 2 February 2010 where he speaks just to this point. He reports from the security conference held in Herzliya.

Feb. 18 2010 08:25 AM
Damien from Brooklyn


Thank you for your response and link to FrontPage Magazine. The December 18, 2006 article about President Carter's ties to Saudi Arabia is light on sources if any and is riddled with the sort of innuendo that is frequently thrown at critics of Israeli policy, not Israel, mind. I never read Carter's book that drew such ire from the defenders of Israel's illegal occupation. Carter's book, however is but one book and I would never hang criticism of Israel exclusively on his or any US president's hook -- alleged Saudi influence or not. Whatever money the politically disinterested Saudis splash is of little consequence. Historically speaking Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan, Egypt have not been interested in the Palestinian cause. Yes, they express populist sentiment when it behooves them, but for all the Arab money that buys football teams in England and creates indoor ski slopes in Dubai, there is no interest in the destabilizing influence of the PLO or more recently Hamas. The money and influence that secures billions of dollars of support for Israel to purchase missiles, jets, and tanks is far more significant. [continued in next post]

Feb. 18 2010 08:24 AM
Kim Vasquez

All Abunimah has done with his amazing "scoop" is turn the disinfectant of light on his own.

I for one am glad he wasn't given a platform to spout his invective. His smear campaign (i.e. his great "scoop") against the Times, Bronner and Israel is not the story here.

What's interesting is the general question, long debated at journalism schools and in the media itself about whether gays, Eskimos or Croatians can cover gay Eskimo or Croatian issues fairly.

One thing is certain, you'll never get fair coverage about any Middle Eastern issues from the Abunimah Intifada cabal.... it's all about smears, innuendo and the relentless agenda to smear Israel and everyone in the world who supports it and to whitewash the daily Palestinian atrocities against each other and against Israeli civilians.

Feb. 17 2010 02:17 PM
Kim Vasquez

FYI - There was an email going around to anti-Israel activists to join propagandist Ali Abunimah's "intifada" and make sure to flood this comment section with comments bashing the On the Media about the Ethan Bronner story with talking points etc...

Just because I'm a lefty, however, doesn't mean that I have drunk the Kool Aid and I will refrain from joining the digital onslaught against Israel.

If Bronner's ability to report is being questioned, I'd like to start scrolling through the roster of Middle East reporters for every mainstream media organ including Reuters to learn of the background of every reporter and news staffer. I'm sure we could find some very interesting tidbits about all the Arab / Muslim news people who often confuse news stories about the Arab/ Israeli conflict with Israel bashing opinion pieces.

Feb. 17 2010 02:17 PM

Damien -- I appreciate your thoughtful reply but it still strikes me as based in your frustration that OTM, and the whole world, does not agree with your underlying postion, that, at the root of it, that believing Israel has a right to exist are simply dupes of TCJ -- Those Clever Jews.

The Arabs and anti-Israel lobby, as you probably know, has its own power, its own influence, its own money (see for starters) and you can find lots of smart people who include the NYT within THAT sphere. Bleating hypocrisy is sophomoric.

Incidentally, I have no doubt that if OTM believes it is relevant in advancing their story or another story then they will talk with the person or organization you mention. If anything OTM bends over "too" backwards to be fair. If they choose NOT to talk with someone, I wouldn't assume it's because they are stooges, or corrupt.

BTW, this may be interesting to you, Damien -- if I were NYT's Keller, I would probably make the call the other way.

Feb. 17 2010 12:29 PM
Damien from Brooklyn


"May I suggest his group and cause develops its own way of communicating that is well-respected enough that its intelligent readers question whether IT demonstrates any bias?"

If by this you mean develop its own network of congressional lobbyists and sympathetic newspaper editorial pages, then Ali Abunimah will most certainly fail. The Israel Lobby (see Mearsheimer & Walt, 2008) has sewn up much of legislative and journalistic landscape not to mention collective imagination in the United States.

It is not unreasonable to expect OTM to speak with Ali Abunimah or another person opposite of the New York Times. That's called journalism. The OTM story is not about the bias of Electronic Intifada, the story is about Ethan Bronner of the New York Times. Nor is the story about Ali Abunimah or any one person other than Ethan Bronner.

Feb. 17 2010 10:37 AM

The Times' exec editor is the appropriate subject since this story -- EI'S -- begins and ends with a decision made by him alone (along with the other subject, Mr. Bronner).

Electr Interfeta could not have asked for a louder mouthpiece for the story it broke by having a whole segment about it broadcast on OTM, via America's largest and most thoughtful radio station. If "one of the group's founders" feels slighted that he did not receive an invitation for airtime to "hear his views," well, that's a personal matter entirely relating to his ego. Judging by the way he/she chose to use the valuable real estate he claimed in the first comment on this page, his/her entire legitimate point was made in the piece. WE HEARD YOU.

May I suggest his group and cause develops its own way of communicating that is well-respected enough that its intelligent readers question whether IT demonstrates any bias?

Feb. 17 2010 10:10 AM
Lyn from Los Angeles

Bronner had considerable pro-Israel bias before his son joined the IDF. Maybe not in every article, but it's certainly observable by people who are knowledgeable. Although sons don't always follow in their parent's footsteps, I'm inclined to believe that his son joined the IDF in good part because of the heavy pro-Israel atmosphere he grew up in.

It doesn't excuse NPR for what what was apparently an opinion piece that gave only one side pretending to be news.

Feb. 17 2010 02:33 AM
Aman from Philly

This is incredible. Rather than bring in the person who really broke the story, you bring in someone to whitewash the story. Please try to feign some balance (as I do not expect you or the NYT to be balanced ever on I-P).

Feb. 16 2010 09:44 PM
Renee from Los Angeles

two points (that were made by others) for reflection on your OTM media biases (and why I encourage my students to listen to NPR with a HUGE grain of salt) :

"Are you kidding me? You call your show ON THE MEDIA and you don't bring on the guy who broke this story, Ali Abunimah, and instead bring on Keller unopposed."

"to begin your report on this matter by opining on the "scrupulous fairness" of Bronner's reporting was a serious journalistic mistake."

Feb. 16 2010 04:18 PM
Mundo G. from New York

The first comment here is absolutely on target. The fact that OTM receives applause for this kind of reporting is, in a perverse way, a demonstration of how low our standards of accountability toward the major media have sunk.
The reporter on the segment grades Bronner with what sounds like an "A," leaving no room for other appraisals, and then Keller gets to lay out his argument with no one to challenge it.
Without the least sense of irony, Keller makes the following historical points: "Can you assign a reporter of African descent to cover Africa...?" and then:
"There was a period of time when Ethan wouldn't have been assigned to the Jerusalem Bureau in the first place because he’s a Jew."
The fact is that for a very long time, Africa was the ONLY place the Times sent blacks, and that since Tom Friedman, Israel coverage has been very largely the province of Jews.
Real question is whether NYT could ever send an Arab or Muslim to cover Isreal. Largely unimaginable.

Feb. 16 2010 01:08 PM
Michael Levin from Illinois

Another example of why we have been forced to become "people of the blog." Without an interview of Abunimah by NPR, here at least is Abunimah's post to Mondoweiss: "Abunimah: Jews can report on Palestinians, but the other way ’round?" Ali Abunimah, Mondoweiss, 2/8/10 /// Also see: "Jesus H. Christ, NPR only interviews Keller about Bronner brouhaha," Philip Weiss, Mondoweiss, 2/16/10 ///

Feb. 16 2010 12:48 PM
Todd Davis from USA

Are you kidding me? You call your show ON THE MEDIA and you don't bring on the guy who broke this story, Ali Abunimah, and instead bring on Keller unopposed.

Your lack of integrity, lack of intestinal fortitude, and lack of interest in providing balanced perspecitive is noted. ON THE MEDIA has now joined the ranks of those that through sins of omission contribute to continuing this infernal conflict in the middle east. May God have mercy on your souls. What a bunch of sniveling simps.

Feb. 16 2010 10:07 AM
Hershel from Monsey NY

while I do agree with Bill Keller that Mr Bronner ought to stay on his assignment, why would his sons enlistment in the IDF change his reporting objectives? a soldier is in no way a political game changer on any side of the conflict.

The only reason I would want Mr Bronner removed is because he will now be forced to over protect his position by showing more sympathy to the Palestinian side ~ which in turn would be consistent with the New York Times reporting of the Middle East conflict (See Roger Cohen)..

Feb. 14 2010 06:38 PM
Damien from Brooklyn

OTM, sorry, not OTN.

Feb. 14 2010 02:30 PM
BEn from Vermont

For the last decade, "On the Media" has been one of my favorite NPR programs as it has shown courage and a much greater willingness to raise questions about the media than other media analysts -- who generally display an excessive deference to their colleagues and friends in the media in a way that grates on many listeners and readers.

This morning's story on Ethan Bronner was an exception. Your reporter (I think, Brooke Gladstone) begins her story by stating that Bronner has reported from the Middle East "with scrupulous fairness." I understand that was the opinion of the NY Times' ombudsman, but it is still a matter of opinion (and a controversial one) which your reporter should not have assumed as a fact in the introduction to her story.

My own view (without any particular emotional attachment to either side of the conflict) is that Bronner has given much more coverage to the right-wing Israeli narrative of the conflict than to the Palestinian one even though he is also in charge of Times' coverage of the West Bank. At one point, Bronner stated that over 90% of the Israelis supported the Gaza operation (conveniently ignoring the views of 20% of Israel's own citizens). More recently, he has given more extensive coverage to the Israeli response to Goldstone report than the Times ever gave to the report itself.

My view of Bronner's coverage is not necessarily any more valid than the views of your reporter or of Clark Hoyt. Still, to begin your report on this matter by opining on the "scrupulous fairness" of Bronner's reporting was a serious journalistic mistake.

Feb. 14 2010 01:44 PM
Damien from Brooklyn

This was an exceptionally weak OTN story and couldn't have given Bill Keller and NYT a bigger pass. I would like to echo the comment [1] made by Ali Abunimah that OTN's failure to speak on air to anyone by NYT is very much the problem with American and Western coverage of the Israel.

Imagine the same story, but with some details changed. Suppose the NYT reporter was based in Jerusalem and had a son who joined a human rights organization working in the occupied territories. I am not even talking about a military organization such as Hezbollah or Fatah, but a human rights organization. Would Bill Keller shrug his shoulders in the same manner as he has about Ethan Bonner? No, he would not. Such a journalist would be dismissed and attacked from all quarters of press and therein lies the double standard that the the NYT tabloid brings to its covering of the Middle East.

The Israeli army still actively works to perpetuate the myth of its purity of arms, which the world started calling into question only as recent as 1982. Reporting on the Sabra and Shatila massacres of 1982 was only possible when reporters based in Beirut out of the reach of the Israeli army censors were able to report the true extent of the massacre. Israel's previous wars were conducted with the Western press firmly behind its lines so that they could control the narrative. That Ethan Bonner is even based in Israel suggests an awful lot about the dominant perspective of his reporting. That his son has enlisted in the Israeli army even more so.

Thomas Friedman? If ever there were a case to be made against the inane NYT coverage of the Middle East.

Feb. 14 2010 12:57 PM
landless from Brooklyn

This is such a non story. The actions of a reporter's children are private. Why should a family member be limited because of another' family member's lawful activities?

Feb. 14 2010 12:31 PM
Sebastian Polanco from Newark, NJ

There is nothing farther from reality than the notion that the American press has ever been unbiased. Considering the worst-than-apartheid conditions that Palestinians have endured for almost half a century under the protection of the IDF machine, and the almost complete silence of the press, to expect that the NYT finds a moral conflict in the situation is rather naive. Think of the frequency of references to the holocaust, for instance. The BBC news, Le Monde, and even Haaretz offer a more realistic view of the situation.

Feb. 14 2010 10:14 AM

I'm just EXTREMELY glad that NPR even talked about this, instead of brushing this under the carpet which is what most American press does every time there is any factual story about Israel.

NYT is so biased against Palestine, and jewish nepotism at NYT (and sometimes at NPR) is so obviously transparent, that the fact that the NYT public editor came out publicly about this and NPR even reported this, is just stunning to me.

Feb. 13 2010 01:46 PM
good story from Michigan

This is a story about what constitutes bias in the media, not about the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. Should someone with a son or daughter currently serving the US military be allowed to cover the Afghan or Iraq wars? It's complicated, and not about this specific issue, as brought up. It's not about the coverage of conflict in general, which you all feel the need to rant about if anything even relates to the issue.

Feb. 13 2010 01:28 PM
another perspective

High marks go to both whoever broke this story. But I shed no tears for anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli activists. At least in the PR world, they shoot very straight indeed and always have -- much to their professional credit.

In addition, BBC and its open contempt for Israel more than makes up for whatever bias a NYT reporter may or may not have in the future regarding Israel's national defense and its soldiers.

Feb. 13 2010 12:24 AM
Ellie Light from NYC

Bill Keller is on a frantic mission to try to convince us that Ethan Bronner's conflict of interest is actually a great development. Now we can be force-fed more IDF hasbara through Ethan's "fair and balanced" reporting. Even in the NYT's post-Judith Miller apocalypse, the arrogance of the former newspaper of record continues to astound former readers. Keller exists in a pseudo-intellectual bubble where the most elementary of impremissible conflicts can be spun as a "positive" for the few thousands of people who read the Times. Note to Bill: how about you go hogwild and consider having a Palestinian journalist report from Gaza, instead of a reporter who has reason to protect his son's life with biased, slanted, pro-Israel, anti-Palestinian hasbara?

Feb. 12 2010 08:13 PM
Eduardo Reis from Glasgow

Is this what passes for journalism in the US? So NPR's idea of reporting on a conflict-of-interest controversy at the New York Times is to present NYT's point of view and...NYT's point of view! And if NPR has concluded that Ethan Bronner reports from Jerusalem with 'scrupulous fairness', then what's there to debate anyway, right? How did NPR reach this conclusion. Mind telling the readers? Unlike NPR, others have gone through the trouble of actually analyzing Bronner's out. And guess what? It doesn't look either scrupulous or fair. Have a look:

The host didn't come across as someone who was interested in the truth at all. Was the purpose of this broadcast merely to give Keller a platform to take a swipe at the audience?

Feb. 12 2010 08:12 PM
Tina from Brooklyn

Kudos to Ali Abunimah and IE for breaking that story, and keeping on it. The NY Times defense of Bronner's position in Israel/Palestine is indefensible. Shame on NPR (National Propaganda Radio) for only hearing one side to the story.

Feb. 12 2010 07:51 PM
Mich from SC USA

Sorry-CORRECTION That's a 43 year military occupation by Israel of West Bank & Gaza, followed by a siege of Gaza after removal of Israeli colonists. that would be helpful background in this story for citizens like me. Also the information that during these times of deficit, Israel receives $3 billion/yr from US taxpayers would be useful information in a democracy. Israel is the largest recipient of US foreign aid in the world with Egypt's 20+ year old dictatorship coming in second.
Also, Israel is mobilizing its pr in response to an international revulsion of its Cast Lead attack last year, that has resulted in people around the world supporting non-violent action to pressure Israel to support equal rights for Palestinians with the time honored tool of a boycott of Israel similar boycott of apartheid South Africa.

Thanks for running the story.

Feb. 12 2010 07:44 PM
Mich from SC USA

Bonner & all stories he approves should include the information that his son is in the IDF. He is reporting on issues that have EVERTHING to do with a continuous 60 yr old military occupation of the West Bank and a siege of Gaza that has lasted over 900 days!

Good background to this interview would have been NPR's own decision to let Maureen Meehan go as a reporter because her husband had been an advisor to the Palestine Authority.

If the military Occupation of Palestine was history, Bonner's son being in the IDF wouldn't matter as much. As it is, it does matter & explains a lot regarding the awful silences of the New York Times when it comes to the human rights and equal rights of Palestinians.

Feb. 12 2010 07:33 PM
Ali Abunimah from Chicago

As one of the co-founders of The Electronic Intifada -- the news organization that broke the story about Ethan Bronner, I find it pretty astonishing (but not surprising), that "On the Media" would not talk to anyone other than Bill Keller about the Ethan Bronner controversy. This is very much part of the problem. If other voices were not so excluded from mainstream debate, then the NYT's perception of what is fair coverage on this story would not be so badly and hopelessly warped.

Feb. 12 2010 07:26 PM

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