Week in and week out, Michael Miner examines the press incisively. His latest column [Hot Type, May 7] addresses a question of long-standing interest to readers of the Chicago Tribune: is it appropriate that public editor Don Wycliff uses his position to champion his personal views about the Middle East? Most students of the press, like distinguished biographer Carol Felsenthal, whom Miner quotes, believe that the job of a public editor is to assess the performance of the newspaper. It is well known that Wycliff's antipathy to Israel is so strong that he appears to whitewash complaints about Tribune coverage of that country. No thinking person can object to Wycliff's right to express these views; they are no more extreme than those of Pat Buchanan or Robert Novak. But no newspaper concerned about fairness would let such opinionated journalists judge its coverage. Wycliff is not a bigot, but he has limited understanding of Middle Eastern reality. He devoutly believes that Palestinians would cease terrorism if Israel dismantled settlements. He does not comprehend that in 1967 there were no settlements, yet the Arab world sought to destroy Israel, nor does he understand the meaning of the "right of return." Wycliff should be allowed to express his views, but the Tribune should appoint a public editor who can deal fairly with all criticism of the paper.
Joel J. Sprayregen, Esq.