In 2009, Ethan Bronner, who has run the Jerusalem bureau for The New York Times since March 2008, joined the speakers bureau of one of Israel’s top public relations firms, Lone Star Communications. Lone Star arranges speaking dates for Bronner and takes 10 to 15 percent of his fee.
CJR called attention to this arrangement on September 14, in a piece by Max Blumenthal that made the argument that Times correspondents should not have business arrangements with firms that simultaneously pitch them stories. Complicating the arrangement, Blumenthal noted, is the fact that Lone Star has a clear conservative political bent.
Bronner, who said the number of speeches involved is a small one, has since cut his ties to Lone Star, as reported by the Times’s public editor, Arthur S. Brisbane, in a September 24 column. Brisbane said the relationship “created an appearance that could be construed by some as corrupt,” though he believed it “was not in actuality.”
“The Times must be fastidiously independent, in reality and in appearance, or face attacks like this one,” he wrote.