Thursday, October 9, 2014

The New York Times' regularly scheduled sackcloth and ashes show

From Talking Points Memo:
When New York Times columnist David Brooks revealed last month that his son is serving in the Israeli military, plenty of questions followed: Should Brooks have been more open about that fact? Should it preclude him from writing about Israel? Is it any different from a columnist with a child serving in the U.S. military?

We learned Wednesday that the revelation has even brought about a minor disagreement between two Times editors.

The paper's public editor Margaret Sullivan wrote Wednesday that while she "strongly" disagrees with the suggestion that Brooks "should no longer write about Israel," she also believes that "a one-time acknowledgement of this situation in print (not in an interview with another publication) is completely reasonable."

"This information is germane; and readers deserve to learn about it in the same place that his columns appear," Sullivan wrote.

That's not how Times editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal sees it though. Rosenthal told Sullivan that the columnist shouldn't have been required to note that his 23-year-old son enlisted in the Israel Defense Forces.

"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 (although I recognize that Israel is more controversial in some people’s minds)," Rosenthal said.
Just to be clear, we're talking about David Brooks. You know the guy, quotes discredited studies, makes stuff up. Over the years, he has given critics a steady stream of material, truly unambiguous examples of factual mistakes and substantial omissions in service of the narrative of the moment. His editors have been remarkably quiet on these errors (which is about par for the NYT course)

The New York Times does frequently engage in very public displays of repentance and self-examination. They admit to professional and ethical lapses. They debate in very serious tones the finer points of journalistic conduct.  Almost invariably, however, they pick the most minor of lapses to focus on. It is almost as if they wanted to appear conscientious about their profession without actually doing the hard work or accepting the consequences.

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