These ‘Times’ demand Robert Mackey

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The New York Times has become notorious for its thoroughly pro-Israel reporting on Israel/Palestine. So it was somewhat of a shock to read recent entries on the Times’ "Lede" blog, authored by Robert Mackey, and see actual reporting and blogging that doesn’t take Israeli claims at face-value in the aftermath of the Israeli raid on the flotilla.

Mackey’s most recent post highlighted filmmaker Iara Lee’s unedited video from aboard the flotilla. He posted the full one-hour clip on the blog.

In an earlier posting, Mackey’s headline read, “Turkish Doctor Describes Treating Israeli Commandos During Raid,” highlighting two photos that show just that, therefore undermining the Israeli claim that they were met by a “lynch” mob intent on killing the commandos. Mackey even links to Electronic Intifada co-founder Ali Abunimah’s blog, giving credit where it’s due, for Abunimah has been doing great work on the flotilla aftermath and, specifically, on the “lynching” claims. Linking to someone like Abunimah is not par for the course for the Times (has the Times ever assigned this writer an Op-Ed or a book review?) and I applaud Mackey for doing so.

Mackey also devoted a separate post to the testimony of two activists aboard the flotilla who were listed on the Israeli Defense Forces’ website as “active terror operatives.” Mackey casts skepticism on the Israeli claim, noting that there were factual errors in the IDF’s bios, and gives space to Fatima Mohammadi, an American citizen born in Tehran, who strongly denied the claim that she was a “terrorist.”

All of which leaves an obvious question: Why are there such stark differences between the Times’ online work at the "Lede" blog and its pathetic reporting in print? Ethan Bronner and Isabel Kershner deny space to Palestinian voices, let alone Palestinian analysts and activists like Abunimah who buck the conventional wisdom on Israel/Palestine.

Bronner’s article today on the blockade of Gaza includes the usual distortions the Times propagates on Israel/Palestine and Gaza. Imagine that article if Mackey became the Times’ Jerusalem bureau chief? And imagine the effect that Mackey’s getting print space– with free rein to cast substantial doubt on Israeli propaganda and quote smart people like Abunimah– would have on the bankrupt discourse in our mainstream media generally on these issues.

Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt suggested Bronner should be put in a different position than his current one as Jerusalem bureau chief at least for the duration of his son’s service in the IDF. That’s what should happen, and I have a good idea who should replace him.

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