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April 28, 2005

Daniel Okrent is Criticized


Dan Okrent, outgoing New York Times' Public Editor (ombudsman) has written a column on "the hottest button" issue -- Times' coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In it, he quoted CAMERA's Andrea Levin praising the Times' "precise language [describing] the perspectives of the parties, the contents of resolutions, the terms of international conventions."

Left out of the column, however, was CAMERA's specific criticism of the Times' coverage. CAMERA has expressed concern and disappointment with Mr. Okrent's column and its false symmetry.

...Okrent's April 24 ("The Hottest Button: How The Times Covers Israel and Palestine") commentary on Middle East coverage disappointed on many counts, omitting or glossing over tough issues and resorting ultimately to platitudes about how difficult it is for the paper to "walk down the middle."

Read the full critique.

Others have criticized the column, as well. Mediacrity had this to say:

Palestinian polemicists constantly find nits to pick at the Times, the Guardian and other media outlets, for the purpose of keeping them on their toes and also, most importantly, to give these newspapers the ability to claim that they are "criticized by both sides." The Guardian will always tell you that. They "get hate mail from both sides." It is convenient to have such critics.

So, naturally enough, Okrent digs out some nutjob at an organization no one has ever heard of who criticizes the Times for "ignoring the deaths of Palestinian children" (as if Times reporters wouldn't be garrotted if they did that). He uses that to counteract the genuine critcism, the nonconvenient criticism, that comes in from the Israeli side.

Mediacrity's later entry faults Okrent for dialoguing about the racist suggestion by extremist Alison Weir that the New York Times exclude Jewish reporters from covering the Middle East conflict unless they are balanced by Muslim reporters.

The proper response from Okrent, if he had even the tenth of the guts usually found in a salamander, should have been, "Get the hell out of my office, you anti-Semitic piece of crud." Or, if he wanted to be polite, he could have said "The Times does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, or ethnic origin" and then pitched her head-first out of his office.

alison weir.jpg
Alison Weir

Posted by CameraBlog at April 28, 2005 11:18 AM