"The New York Times has all but confirmed to The Electronic Intifada (EI) that the son of its Jerusalem bureau chief Ethan Bronner was recently inducted into the Israeli army."
Times foreign editor Susan Chira was quoted as emailing EI to say, "Mr. Bronner's son is a young adult who makes his own decisions. At The Times, we have found Mr. Bronner's coverage to be scrupulously fair and we are confident that will continue to be the case."
EI wondered how the Times would react if one of its reporters in Jerusalem " had an immediate family member who faced Bronner's son across the battlefield, as a member of a Palestinian or Lebanese resistance organization?"
Yes, or what about an reporter in Beirut whose son joined Hezbollah?
Or, for that matter, a Pentagon reporter whose son just joined the marines to fight in Afghanistan?
A categorical rule might be tough, and inappropriate, to draw to cover a general situation so contingent on specifics, but I hope the Times doesn't deny it has a situation on its hands, even if it's confident that Ethan Bronner can successfully negotiate it.
EI headlined its item, "New York Times fails to disclose Jerusalem bureau chief's conflict of interest." There's a whiff of irony in that. EI thinks Bronner, an American, showed a "pro-Israeli bias" in his reporting of the military campaign in Gaza last year, and it appears to wonder if in his own view — and perhaps his paper's — his interests are aligned.
Not that it's ever impossible to find someone who thinks just the opposite of someone else, but in the case of the Middle East it's particularly easy. Here's a freshly minted assessment of Bronner from the American Thinker blog that rips him for his "pejorative coverage" of Israel's efforts to assist Haiti after the earthquake. "While Bronner gleefully quotes slanderous allegations about Israel's lack of humanitarian zeal," argues the American Thinker's Leo Rennert, "he omits any mention of the vast extent of humanitarian aid that is pouring into Gaza from Israel every day."
UPDATE: You will see below that I was immediately excoriated for taking the American Thinker seriously enough to even cite it. Sorry, I guess. Here's another critique of Bronner's Gaza coverage that's more impressive, though it's much more along the lines of EI's. It's from blogger Richard Silverstein of Tikun Olam,