Revkin is right about focusing on energy—it won’t be easy but sooner or later there would be some genuine policy interest in restructuring the energy sector. It is worth focusing on energy conservation and clean technologies because these can be communicated as values that could possibly appeal to the general public.


Bronner and Son

This week’s “News Meeting” question asked readers to weigh in on the high-profile dispute at The New York Times, where public editor Clark Hoyt think Jerusalem bureau chief Ethan Bronner should be reassigned while his son serves in the Israeli military, and executive editor Bill Keller disagrees. Few commenters took Keller’s side.

Since there is so much acrimony regarding Bronner, why doesn’t the NYT just move him to another post? Then, if the NYT was really an objective paper, assign a Palestinian/American in his place… or an Arab…or a Muslim.

Don’t tell me there aren’t any good Arab/Palestinian reporters. There are dozens from Al Jazeera English, from other Arab stations and from Gaza. To suggest that only a Jew can cover this conflict, is, in itself, a racist idea.

The NYT should take an ethical stand and move Bronner someplace else.


The question of whether this is a conflict of interest is easily resolved by simply asking how the Times would react if the kid had joined the other side. So I’ve rewritten the intro accordingly:

“The New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief has a son who has joined the armed wing of Hamas. The Times’s public editor, Clark Hoyt, says this situation has the appearance of a conflict of interest, and the reporter should move to another beat. The paper’s editor, Bill Keller, publicly disagreed, and defended his reporter’s right to stay.”

Can anyone imagine Bill Keller doing this? Of course not. So really, what this story illustrates is not just the reporter’s conflict of interest, but the entire New York Times’ conflict of interest in Middle Eastern reporting, because this is a paper that sees one people as legitimate and the other as criminal.

—Kevin Robb

Bill Keller’s response is correct in principle, as far as it goes, but the real point here is that most of the US mainstream media is laughably biased in favour of Israel. It’s normal - the US has always had an affinity with Israel and post 9/11, all Arabs and Muslims became “the enemy.” The Bronner imbroglio shows that public opinion is now shifting in another direction. It also come at a time when, with the rapid development of the web, the NYT has two audiences, its core newspaper-buying American audience, which traditionally favours Israel, hence the paper’s own slant, and the global, well-educated, smart and English-speaking web audience, much of which is more sympathetic to the Palestinians. In the past it has been easy to dismiss this growing multicultural global intelligentsia; it’s not so easy any more.

Thus, neither Keller nor Hoyt addresses the real question. Hoyt talks about the “appearance of conflict of interest”. But people are only looking for “evidence” of a conflict of interest because they already believe the reporting is biased in the first place, based on its actual content. Keller disagrees because that bias is his newspaper’s default position.

The NYT’s repeated gaffes and mea culpas over the past 10 years reflect the angst with which the previously uber-confident society it comes from is facing both its own hubris and the development of a multi-polar world.

—Tom Spender

True Transparency

On Wednesday, Trudy Lieberman took a look at what a transparent debate on health care reform would have looked like, and what putting the talks on C-SPAN might or might not have accomplished. That prompted this bit of programming advice for the cable channel:

The Editors