As you surely know, the acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree, and the son of New York Times columnist David Brooks has joined the Israeli army; Brooks disclosed the service in an interview in Israel in which he spoke of himself as an Israeli parent. Now the New York Times Public Editor, Margaret Sullivan, has weighed in. She quotes a person or two who are outraged over Brooks’s son’s service, and editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal saying it is no big deal:
“I do not think he ever had an obligation to say that his son made this choice, any more than if his son had joined the U.S. Air Force.”
Sullivan begs to differ. She says the matter should be disclosed in the New York Times.
In general, I agree with Mr. Rosenthal about columnists and their family members. I don’t think readers usually need to know what the spouses of columnists think or what brothers do for a living, or whether a daughter has joined the U.S. Army. But this situation strikes me as a more extreme case. Mr. Brooks’s son is serving as a member of a foreign military force that has been involved in a serious international conflict – one that the columnist sometimes writes about and which has been very much in the news.
I strongly disagree with those who say Mr. Brooks should no longer write about Israel. But I do think that a one-time acknowledgement of this situation in print (not in an interview with another publication) is completely reasonable.
Will the Times follow through? (Adam says the Times won’t.)
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach jumps on Sullivan’s commentary:
Incredible. The @NYT attacks it’s [sic] own columnist David brooks because his son serves in IDF.