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Sunday, September 25, 2011

The New York Times bows to political correctness

And you never thought the New York Times would slam one of their own. Well, they have, but for the wrong reasons.

A week ago, I wrote a post criticizing self-hating Jew Max Blumenthal for writing an article in the Columbia Journalism Review castigating New York Times Jerusalem Bureau Chief Ethan Bronner (pictured) for alleged improprieties relating to speaking engagements. For that piece, Blumenthal referred to me as an 'anonymous Israeli extremist.' (I expect to be called an extremist by people who get drunken kids to ham it up for the camera so that he can present them as 'extremists').

Incredibly, the Sunday Times says that their own reporter did nothing wrong, but it doesn't look right.
A close examination of the facts leads me to conclude that the case for an actual conflict of interest is slender. But the appearance of a conflict clearly exists, and that is a problem in and of itself. The Times’s “Ethical Journalism” guidelines state that staff members “may not accept anything that could be construed as a payment for favorable coverage or as an inducement to alter or forgo unfavorable coverage.”

Mr. Bronner has now severed his ties to the public relations firm. “In my view, it is all about appearances,” he told me. “I am not denying they matter. There is nothing of an actual conflict.”

The matter revolves around Mr. Bronner’s engagement, beginning in 2009, with Lone Star Communications, a firm operated by Charley Levine, a prominent public relations executive in Israel. Mr. Levine added a speakers bureau to his firm that year, and Mr. Bronner signed on to be represented by him.

The core of Mr. Blumenthal’s critique was that Mr. Levine is a figure of the Israeli right, who counsels prominent Zionists and serves as a reservist in the Israeli Defense Forces Spokesperson’s Unit. Mr. Blumenthal, a writing fellow at the Nation Institute, said it was improper of Mr. Bronner to have a business relationship with Mr. Levine while covering stories that Lone Star promoted.

In The Columbia Journalism Review article, Mr. Blumenthal never explicitly accused Mr. Bronner of providing favorable coverage as a quid pro quo for receiving speaking engagements from Mr. Levine’s firm. He objected that Mr. Bronner “takes paid speaking engagements from a firm that also pitches him stories.” Elsewhere in the article, he wrote: “On the one hand, it might be hard to cover Israel without stumbling across Lone Star’s many clients. On the other, however, that might be a good reason not to have a business relationship with the firm.”
As I noted in my original post, everyone who writes gets pitched stories. I get pitched stories and I will bet that Ethan Bronner gets pitched more stories and better stories than I do. But the standard they are espousing is unrealistic. If Bronner is not going to talk to people who do reserve duty in the army, he can't talk to anyone under the age of 45 who isn't a draft dodger. The army is part of our society. How is Bronner supposed to cover it without taking stories from our reservists?

But to see just how much of a tempest in a teapot this is, look at the story that Blumenthal pitched to the Times.
Mr. Blumenthal’s article enumerated six cases in which Mr. Bronner had written about, or at least mentioned, Lone Star clients. Mr. Bronner walked me through those cases. Of the six, he said, only one involved an instance in which he had received a pitch from Lone Star and, on that basis, decided to write about it. The article concerned the Jewish National Fund and was about a fortified play area for children in the Israeli border town of Sderot.

In the rest of the cases except one, he said, he did not receive a pitch from Lone Star and was unaware that the story involved a Lone Star client. The exception involved Danny Danon, a conservative member of the Israeli Parliament. Mr. Bronner said he has covered Mr. Danon but the coverage decisions were influenced not by Lone Star but by the prominence of Mr. Danon, who is deputy speaker of Parliament and chairman of World Likud.
What a terrible thing - Bronner wrote a story about Sderot, which, except according to Abu Mazen and Co. is not even 'disputed territory.'


The fact that the Columbia Journalism Review would publish Blumenthal's piece in the first place speaks volumes to the bereft state of American Journalism and of Bir Zeit on the Hudson.

As to the Times, we've known for a long time that their ethics are crooked.

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At 4:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

castigating New York Times Jerusalem Bureau Chief Ethan Bronner (pictured) for alleged improprieties relating to speaking engagements.

No. Your case was built on a false premise.

Max Blumenthal was rightly complaining not about the stories he was pitched as you claimed, but that Bronner had KEPT HIS LINKS WITH THE PUBLIC RELATIONS FIRM SECRET.

Not only that, he'd also kept his sons draft as a secret too.

He should have revealed both if he was at the the Times, not kept it a secret. THAT was the point. Not about pitched stories.

You do however have a point about the sorry state of the US media, and that's why the likes of Max Blumenthal shine out like stars. Columbia Journalism Review clearly has insight and excellent taste, something sorely lacking in US media, with it's hugh swathes of ignorant iilliterate bumpkins sitting like zombies in front of Fox News and such twats as Glen Beck, who have never even set foot outside of their own swamps leave alone travelled on a plane or even know there are other countries on the planet.

At 11:09 PM, Blogger Captain.H said...

"...and such twats as Glen Beck, who have never even set foot outside of their own swamps leave alone travelled on a plane or even know there are other countries on the planet."

Ahem...Glen Beck, among his travels to other countries, has visited the sovereign, Jewish State of Israel and it's capital, Jerusalem. His recent "Restoring Courage" visit included a major speech in Jerusalem. I know his visit and speech were widely covered in the media of The Great Satan (where I live) and of Israel, which both have Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press. I don't know if this visit was covered in the media of, for example, Egypt, the most populous Arab state. If not, perhaps it was because the Egyptian media was fully absorbed in covering the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood machinations to suppress the democratic hopes of many Egyptians, or covering Islamic terrorism in the Sinai, or covering the Islamic persecution of Egyptian Coptic Christians.


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