Reading the pieces in the Sunday editions of the New York Times and the Washington Post about the death of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, one gets the sense that reporters were aware of some of Sharon's bloodiest history–but mostly kept that out of their accounts of his life.
The new public editor at the New York Times, Margaret Sullivan, dedicated her first column (9/16/12) to factchecking and false balance. Her conclusion: It ought to go without saying, but I'm going to say it anyway: Journalists need to make every effort to get beyond the spin and help readers know what to believe, to help them make their way through complicated and contentious subjects. The more news organizations can state established truths and stand by them, the better off the readership–and the democracy–will be. It's good news that Sullivan thinks this way–and an improvement over her predecessor's much-maligned column […]
Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor acknowledged on Al Jazeera English (4/14/12) that Iranian leaders have never called for Israel to be "wiped" off the map. Meridor agreed with interviewer Teymoor Nabili's suggestion that the supposed remarks were never actually made; Iranian leaders, Meridor said, come basically ideologically, religiously, with the statement that Israel is an unnatural creature, it will not survive. They didn't say "we'll wipe it out," you are right, but [that] it will not survive, it is a cancerous tumor, it should be removed. Hostile words, to be sure, but not the menacing threat endlessly reported in […]
When I saw the July 3 New York Times headline "Setting Sail on Gaza's Sea of Spin," I expected the worst. Times reporter Ethan Bronner's analysis piece on the Gaza humanitarian flotilla starts off predictably enough, saying there's blame to spread all around: Almost everything about the flotilla stuck in Greece and waiting to challenge Israel's blockade of Gaza seems to be a parable for something else, part of an unstated effort to recast the Israeli-Palestinian narrative in extreme terms. Instead of helping to clarify what Gaza needs and how it might build a future, the saga has merely brought […]
What's the Israeli government's new "plan" for peace? Reading the New York Times doesn't help your understand where they stand. Earlier this week, the Times' Ethan Bronner (5/17/11) praised a speech by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu for exhibiting "greater flexibility on territory." Bronner wrote that he showed "more willingness to yield territory than he had before, strongly implying that he would give up the vast majority of the West Bank." As Matthew Taylor wrote at Mondoweiss (5/17/11), there was little actual evidence that there was much going on here–just some "implying" and "suggesting." A Times article today (5/19/11) from […]
At Electronic Intifada, Ali Abunimah challenges the skewed history coming from Ethan Bronner in the New York Times (5/15/11). In trying to explain the context for the recent Palestinian protests, Bronner wrote: After Israel declared independence on May 15, 1948, armies from neighboring Arab states attacked the new nation; during the war that followed, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were driven from their homes by Israeli forces. Hundreds of Palestinian villages were also destroyed. The refugees and their descendants remain a central issue of contention in the Israeli-Palestinianconflict. Abunimah replied: This is standard Zionist propaganda that bears little […]
Anonymous Israeli officials are weighing in at the New York Times today. Let's remember the Times has some rules regarding the use of anonymous sources: The use of unidentified sources is reserved for situations in which the newspaper could not otherwise print information it considers reliable and newsworthy. When we use such sources, we accept an obligation not only to convince a reader of their reliability but also to convey what we can learn of their motivation–as much as we can supply to let a reader know whether the sources have a clear point of view on the issue under […]
The big news in the U.S.-guided Israel/Palestine talks is that a renewal of a so-called "settlement freeze" in the West Bank is basically dead. Ethan Bronner has a post-mortem of sorts in the New York Times (12/9/10), where he describes the backdrop for the previous round of negotiations: The Israelis had insisted that the only way forward was through direct talks. Yet when those talks began in September, the Israelis engaged in little substance. The Palestinians had insisted that there could be no direct talks without a settlement freeze, yet they waited nine months into the last such freeze before […]
There's a lot to say about Ethan Bronner's Week in Review piece in the New York Times (11/21/10). The headline says a lot on its own: "Why America Chases an Israeli-Palestinian Peace." This is ironic, at the very least, given the role the U.S. has historically played in making peace quite difficult. And the current "peace" talks include the a U.S. deal to give, as Bronner explains, Israel a 2-for-1 deal on new fighter jets. What's really galling about the article, though, is this: It is worth noting that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has been largely drained of deadly violence in […]
In much of the coverage of Gaza, there is a media shorthand that is used torecall some of the most important recent history. Like in today's New York Times (6/11/10): Israel imposed the embargo, allowing in charitable goods and letting out people with medical emergencies. It invaded in late 2008 to stop a flow of rockets and destroyed thousands of buildings. Israel invaded Gaza in order to stop rockets, destroying buildings in the process–a shorthand that makes the invasion seem more defensible. Butif reporters summarized this history accurately,they would be telling a far different story.It would go something like this: […]
New York Times reporter Ethan Bronner has a piece today (4/7/10) headlined "Palestinians Try a Less Violent Path to Resistance," which attempts to show that there is a new move away from armed resistance to Israeli occupation. You get that message pretty clearly from Bronner's language: He calls it a "new approach" and argues, "Nonviolence has never caught on here." That's not so; if anything, Palestinian nonviolence just hasn't caught on at the New York Times. As Patrick O'Connor wrote in 2005: Over the last three years the New York Times has published only three feature articles on Palestinian nonviolent […]
New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt (2/21/10) returns to the issue of Times Jerusalem bureau chief Ethan Bronner having a child fighting on one side of the conflict he's covering (FAIR Activism Update, 2/12/10): Some Times journalists have taken issue with my position in this case, believing it suggests that no Jewish reporter could fairly cover the Israeli/Palestinian conflict (or, for that matter, a corollary: that a Muslim of Arab descent could not cover Iraq). Until Thomas L. Friedman was sent to Jerusalem in 1984, the Times would not assign a Jew to that post, a sorry history that […]
FAIR has a new Action Alert out, "Does NYT's Top Israel Reporter Have a Son in the IDF?" (1/27/10), about the New York Times' failure to respond to questions about whether Jerusalem bureau chief Ethan Bronner's son is enlisted in Israel's military, and, if so, whether this poses a conflict of interest. If you send a message to the Times about the alert–or otherwise have thoughts you'd like to share about the alert–please make use of the comments thread for this post.