Should NYT Jerusalem bureau chief be reassigned?

Leo Rennert
Clark Hoyt, the  public editor of the New York Times , believes Ethan Bronner, the paper's Jerusalem bureau chief, should be given an assignment somewhere else to avoid a perception of conflict of interest because his son has enlisted in the Israeli Defense Forces.   I disagree. 

As a long-time journalist, I've had many bones to pick with Bronner's coverage -- but whatever criticism I've leveled has focused exclusively on his reporting, which often  bends over backwards so as not to cast Palestinians in  a bad light.  My basic beef with Bronner is that he looks at Israel and the Palestinians through two different lenses -- a sharp, unsparing one when it comes to Israel, abenign one when it comes to the Palestinians.  His reporting would be more balanced and objective if he looked at both sides through the same lens, preferably the former. 

However, since I've followed Bronner's reportage in some detail for quite a few years,  I'm convinced that the views he brings to his stories won't change one whit because of his son's enlistment in the Israeli military.  So to remove him from his current post because of spurious expectations that the father would be influenced in his reporting by his son's one-year active duty in the IDF is completely unwarranted.

Nor would I try to seek his reassignment because of the actual content of his writings.  Instead, I would hope that Executive Editor Bill Keller might take a more critical look at the general tenor of his reportage -- what he writes and also what he overlooks -- and judge him accordingly, without taking for granted that he's an infallible, unassailable, ideal journalist without any imperfections whatsoever , as Keller alleged in rejecting Hoyt's conflict-of-interest concerns.     .    

By all means, let the Times keep  Bronner on the job -- but don't turn him into the epitome of journalistic perfection.  And, since hope springs eternal, perhaps Bill Keller might finally one of these days set aside his institutional arrogance and consider seriously fair and well-founded criticism of his star reporter.
Clark Hoyt, the  public editor of the New York Times , believes Ethan Bronner, the paper's Jerusalem bureau chief, should be given an assignment somewhere else to avoid a perception of conflict of interest because his son has enlisted in the Israeli Defense Forces.   I disagree. 

As a long-time journalist, I've had many bones to pick with Bronner's coverage -- but whatever criticism I've leveled has focused exclusively on his reporting, which often  bends over backwards so as not to cast Palestinians in  a bad light.  My basic beef with Bronner is that he looks at Israel and the Palestinians through two different lenses -- a sharp, unsparing one when it comes to Israel, abenign one when it comes to the Palestinians.  His reporting would be more balanced and objective if he looked at both sides through the same lens, preferably the former. 

However, since I've followed Bronner's reportage in some detail for quite a few years,  I'm convinced that the views he brings to his stories won't change one whit because of his son's enlistment in the Israeli military.  So to remove him from his current post because of spurious expectations that the father would be influenced in his reporting by his son's one-year active duty in the IDF is completely unwarranted.

Nor would I try to seek his reassignment because of the actual content of his writings.  Instead, I would hope that Executive Editor Bill Keller might take a more critical look at the general tenor of his reportage -- what he writes and also what he overlooks -- and judge him accordingly, without taking for granted that he's an infallible, unassailable, ideal journalist without any imperfections whatsoever , as Keller alleged in rejecting Hoyt's conflict-of-interest concerns.     .    

By all means, let the Times keep  Bronner on the job -- but don't turn him into the epitome of journalistic perfection.  And, since hope springs eternal, perhaps Bill Keller might finally one of these days set aside his institutional arrogance and consider seriously fair and well-founded criticism of his star reporter.