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Bronner story keeps on ticking

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
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Gray lady has a thorn in her side. Bernard Avishai says (and I tend to agree) that Ethan Bronner shouldn’t be moved from Jerusalem just because his son joined the IDF. But Avishai then quotes Karl Popper and Thomas Kuhn in a highminded (and dual-nationalized) struggle to overlook the real problem: his friend Bronner is in the tank. The Merhava Tank. Lysandra Ohrstrom at Huffpo gets this. Swonderful, smarvelous:

You don’t have to be a journalist, editor, or Middle Eastern scholar to find signs of biases in Bronner’s coverage. Nor does one have to examine it microscopically. Just type in his byline in the search box of the Times’ website and glance at the first twenty headlines that appear and it’s obvious where Bronner’s sympathies lie. Almost every substantial story is told from the perspective of Israelis: "Israel Nears Membership in Economic Club," from January 19; "For Israel, Mixed Feelings on Aid Effort," published on January 22; "Israel Prepares Rebuttal to the Goldstone Report," from January 23.

Note to young journalists: This is concrete and precise.

Bronner himself told Hoyt that he "would rather be judged by his work than his biography," so a signs of bias take a look at the latter story on what he characterizes as Israel’s campaign to "dispel the [Goldstone] report’s harsh conclusion — that the death of noncombatants and destruction of civilian infrastructure were part of an official plan to terrorize the Palestinian population."…

Rubble and destruction were the most minor consequences of the war, but you’d never know that from reading Bronner’s account. The Times in general, and Bronner in particular, have a long history of burying the plight of individual Palestinians under the rubble in service of furthering a one-sided narrative of the conflict.

Bronner’s objectivity deserves to be questioned and If his son’s military service is the impetus for readers to look deeper into the news they consumer and the interests driving it, so be it. By pretending to engage in a discussion about journalistic objectivity,[executive editor Bill] Keller and [public editor Clark] Hoyt made it blatantly obvious that readers cannot rely on editors for a balanced news diet.

Beautifully done. The great thing about the Bronner story is that it has opened the door on the Times’ biased coverage. And opened the door on Jewish identity construction in the American Establishment. Oh I love this stuff. Avishai, attacking Times public editor Clark Hoyt for saying that Bronner should leave Jerusalem, writes:

Hoyt is valorizing crude behaviorist ideas masquerading as liberal ones, that we are, really, nothing but bundles of "socialized preferences." What we think is the product of our "demographic." Our claims of fact (about history, society, etc.) are, by extension, an expression of our material "interests," or if we are deeply socialized, "values."

Those are good questions, they are about consciousness/and a writer’s self-awareness; and they touch on the central issues of Jewish identity and Zionism. If I were Bronner’s friend, I’d urge him to write about it, to use the crisis to grow as a writer.

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About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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