The New York Times has announced that Peter Baker will “very likely” be its next bureau chief in Jerusalem in a few months time. Baker is currently White House correspondent; and in an article about the US-Iranian prisoner swap yesterday he wrote the following in the 13th paragraph:
Other countries have traded as well. Israel has routinely exchanged imprisoned Palestinians for its own people. In 2011, Israel freed 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, including some it deemed terrorists, for Sgt. Gilad Shalit, who had been held by the militant group Hamas for five years.
This is the second time I’ve seen him do this. Last week he wrote a story about how the US has to deal with terrorism; and this was in paragraph three:
Given how hard it is for intelligence and law enforcement agencies to detect people who have become radicalized, like those who opened fire at a holiday party in San Bernardino, Calif., a certain number of relatively low-level terrorist attacks may be inevitable, and Americans may have to learn to adapt the way Israel has.
So Israel is twice offered as a model for how the US should act.
Never mind what the US does: we are of course totally innocent. But while writing about our injured innocence he then brings in Israel as another example of a country that faces the same problems we face. It seems to be how he thinks. The US and Israel, innocent parties, dealing with terrorists as best they can.
It’s just two examples so far, but if this guy is Jodi Rudoren’s replacement in Jerusalem then I have a bad feeling about how the coverage is likely to be. I hope I’m wrong, but the NYT already reports every Palestinian death at Israel hands as though it were justified. Having a reporter who can speak Arabic hasn’t made any difference at all in the bias. The only question for me is whether they consciously choose to be biased or if it is just reflexive, something so deeply embedded in them they write like this by instinct.