‘NYT’ Public Editor lets Bronner off the hook

Israel/Palestine
on 16 Comments

More on New York Times Public Editor Arthur Brisbane’s column on Ethan Bronner’s conflict of interest. He found, “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.” He consulted one media ethicist who agreed there was “perception of a conflict” and another who thought Bronner should end his relationship with Lone Star Communications (which he has). For his part Bronner is “kicking himself over the episode” and is quoted as saying, “I allowed myself to be in a situation where someone could come after me this way, I feel pretty bad about it.”

It’s interesting in and of itself that The Times has been forced to devote space to a possible Bronner conflict of interest for the second time, but Brisbane still falls short. His main mistake was taking Bronner at his word. Brisbane writes:

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 . . .

Unfortunately this just isn’t true. Last week, I wrote a post about a speech Bronner gave at Duke University in 2009. In that speech Bronner tells a story about an article he wrote based on a Lone Star pitch. Bronner explained:

I got a call about this story from a guy, who is a sort of, who’s a PR guy, who specializes in right-of-center stuff, shall we say. And the reason he called me is because the people who were ending up funding this dig are not Elad, but Elad light. And so anyway he called me and he said we thinking of (unclear) and so we worked it out and the truth is is that it did seem like a quite a serious thing . . .

From Blumenthal’s reporting we know that “PR guy” who pitched the story was Lone Star head Charley Levine, and Bronner clearly reported on the story. Is Bronner saying he didn’t choose to do the story simply on the basis of the Lone Star connection? Does he have the credibility at this point to be believed?

About Adam Horowitz

Adam Horowitz is Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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16 Responses

  1. Kathleen
    September 26, 2011, 11:09 am

    What sort of ethics board exist to review conflict of interest in the Journalism world?

  2. James
    September 26, 2011, 11:19 am

    the nyt has an agenda… news is secondary..

  3. pabelmont
    September 26, 2011, 11:33 am

    I always thought that newspepople were “tight” with the people in government they talked to everyday. Not necessarily in a money-relationship, but friends, doing favors, favorable reporting, publicizing “leaks”, etc. All this “making nice” is pretty close to corruption, even without explicit money-transfer. IMO.

  4. irmep
    September 26, 2011, 11:39 am

    It’s been worse. Mortimer Kroll used to broadcast NY Times radio back in the day. The Jewish Agency funneled money to him through AIPAC’s parent organization, the American Zionist Council. The Justice Department ordered AZC to register as a foreign agent in 1962. Under an agreement, they were allowed to file only a “representative” 3 month disclosure of people receiving payola/grants/bribes, etc. The DOJ kept the AZC disclosure classified until 2008.

    Kroll was on the AZC summary payola list:

    link to irmep.org

    There are a million ways to pay people off. That crude effort no doubt has been surpassed.. For the record, Vivian Schiller of NPR was interested in this story, Brooke and Bob Garfield of “On the Media” were apparently not…

    G.

    • PeaceThroughJustice
      September 26, 2011, 5:17 pm

      And the JTA is showing interest–
      “New York Times’ Bronner accused of conflict of interest”
      link to jta.org

      But still nothing from the gentile media.

      • annie
        September 26, 2011, 5:34 pm

        gentile media? what’s that? csm?

  5. Les
    September 26, 2011, 11:48 am

    I can’t believe this is the first time the Times’ public editor has had to look into Bronner’s conflicts of interest. How many is too many?

  6. jilliancyork
    September 26, 2011, 3:34 pm

    Frankly, I preferred the earlier title. This isn’t Bronner’s second offense; it’s at least his third, if you count the absurd story he recently wrote about a minimal-impact Facebook page (which EI analysed here: link to electronicintifada.net ).

    Bronner is not an honest journalist; at this point, it seems a mass campaign for his resignation might be in order.

  7. annie
    September 26, 2011, 3:45 pm

    this is the weirdest framing:

    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 . . .

    so iow….only one did he receive a pitch from Lone Star and in the rest of the cases except one (other) was he aware it involved a lone star client.

    which means, according to bonner, there were 2, not ‘only’ one, but the other was not ‘pitched’.

    never mind that ‘other’ just happens to be very political and looking to

    generate serious publicity and generate fundraising from the get-go,” Willner said.

    and they did it thru lone star.

    i wonder how much money they raised? maybe the nyt should just come out and admit that it is ok to be an unabashed supporter of (as bonner puts it ) strengthening the tie of the Jewish people to the land at the expense of palestinians. but that framing..why say ‘only’ one if it was two. and if he doesn’t include ‘pitches’ and alleged ‘ unawareness’ then how many were there? 6. color him clueless…not. this is his gang in jerusalem.

    great report adam. nail em!

  8. cjlcjl
    September 26, 2011, 4:50 pm

    Adam, you didn’t READ Max’s report. He admitted that the NY Times covered the Elah archeological story in 10/08. That was 6 months before the Lone Star speakers bureau even existed. You are so filled with agitprop venom that you ignore this anachronism which makes the “case” look rather foolish indeed.

    Second question: The Sderot event covered by the NY Times was similarly covered by over 100 media worldwide (including The Washington Post, CNN, AP, etc.) By normative journalistic standards, one would have asked why the Times did NOT report on an event covered by most other major media, not why they did in fact cover it.

    • annie
      September 26, 2011, 5:06 pm

      admitted? don’t you mean he reported the NY Times covered the Elah archeological story in 10/08.

      That was 6 months before the Lone Star speakers bureau even existed.

      that would be a neat trick.

      loan star: What We Do: Speakers Bureau

      “Founded in 2008, the Lone Star Speakers Bureau coordinates engagements in Israel, the United States and Europe for its Israel-based speakers.

      i’m still tripping over the math here but if an article written in oct 08 was 6 months before the bureau even existed, according to you, the bureau couldn’t have existed in 08.

      fail.

      The Sderot event covered by the NY Times was similarly covered by over 100 media worldwide (including The Washington Post, CNN, AP, etc.)

      any dates on when they were covered? did wapo cover the event before the nyt? what about cnn. or did they republish bonner’s story?

    • annie
      September 26, 2011, 5:17 pm

      You are so filled with agitprop venom

      lol! bloviate a little why don’t you!

  9. Real Jew
    September 26, 2011, 5:42 pm

    Max Blumenthal is in a class all his own, an exceptional individual. Makes me proud to be Jewish. Thanks Adam for the follow up

  10. eGuard
    September 26, 2011, 6:12 pm

    What is this counting trick? I read: “Of the six, only one involved … Lone Star … In the rest of the cases except one, he said …”. Why the conundrum?

    So that makes two faults on six to me. Or: one out of three.

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