Yet Another NY Times Writer with a Son in the Israeli Military

The Times public editor, Margaret Sullivan, writes in her blog today that the paper should disclose the fact that columnist David Brooks has a son in the Israeli army. She did so after receiving complaints from a number of readers.

Although columnists are held to different standards than news reporters, she writes, “Mr. Brooks’s son is serving as a member of a foreign military force that has been involved in a serious international conflict – one that the columnist sometimes writes about and which has been very much in the news.”

She concludes that a “one-time acknowledgement of this situation in print (not in an interview with another publication) is completely reasonable.”

Sullivan received complaints after Brooks revealed his son’s status in an interview with the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. The story was published in Hebrew but picked up by U.S. journalists (see here and here).

The news echoed previous revelations that the son of former Times Jerusalem bureau chief Ethan Bronner was serving in the Israeli forces even as his father was reporting from Israel. This also prompted complaints from readers and a suggestion from then public editor Clark Hoyt that Bronner be reassigned. Bronner, however, remained at his post.

TimesWarp readers might be interested in visiting this blog’s “Times Staff” page, where they can find more information about the Bronner affair and the close ties between other Times writers, Israel and the Israeli military.

Readers may also want to see Alison Weir’s blog today on the Brooks revelations and her comments on Sullivan’s post.

Barbara Erickson

2 thoughts on “Yet Another NY Times Writer with a Son in the Israeli Military

  1. Hi Barbara, if the NY Times didn’t have such an embarrassing, shameful track record on Israel/Palestine reporting, I don’t think it would be construed as a conflict of interest. I mean, imagine, should any journalist in this country with a family member in the armed forces be barred from reporting on US foreign policy? I would say no, that’s crazy. But when the issue is Israel/Palestine, and the NY Times coverage of Israel/Palestine, it gets a lot more complicated.

    BTW, I was trying to figure out if the NYT covered the Russell Tribunal, but couldn’t find anything — do you know? Thanks


    • Hi, Dabney, The NYT public editor agrees with you that this is not a typical case (Brooks’ son joined the army of a foreign country) and the issue is much in the news. As for the tribunal, the answer is that I have seen nothing about it (and don’t expect to).


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