Sunday, October 30, 2005

Times Editor: No Space, No Fairness


Bronner: No Space to be Fair

A reader passes on to me the rude brush-off that he got from New York Times deputy foreign editor Ethan Bronner, when asked why the Times had deleted an observation that Mohammed Abbas had not denounced the Hadera bombings on moral grounds. Go away, said Bronner, who added as follows:

"We have severe space constraints in the printed version of the newspaper," said Bronner. "Sometimes things are removed that seem to you and others politically motivated. They are not."

Of course they aren't! I have to admit, it had never occurred to me that the Times skimps on stuff that is negative to the Palestinians not because of longstanding policy, but because of space constraints! Not enough room!

Seriously, though, folks, you have to admit that this guy Bronner is good. He is the living embodiment of that old Groucho Marx joke, "What are you going to believe, me or your own two eyes?" Remember: It's space. Space! Space! Not what you can see with your own two eyes.

That brings me to the subject of today's item -- stuff that is worth the Times's limited space. Little Stevie Erlanger, the Times hack who can't read, yesterday gave us a good example of the kind of stuff for which the Times does have space. Let's see if you can guess the subject of his lengthy feature:

1. Inside the Palestinian arms-smuggling apparatus.
2. Celebrations at the hometown of the Hadera bomber.
3. An old British lady who runs a hotel frequented by correspondents.

The answer, of course, is No. 3. An old British lady who runs the American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem -- "A Grande Dame of a Bygone Jerusalem"-- describes the good old days, before the nasty Israelis "firmly" (as opposed to the relaxed, fair, lovely Jordanians) took control of the place. An advertorial for "Jerusalem's most beautiful hotel"! Hey, there's room for that in this puerile shadow of what used to be a great newspaper.

The old lady takes little Stevie by the hand, and wanders with him very selectively through history, ignoring stuff along the way that doesn't matter much to this old British lady (such as Jerusalem being divided between 1948 and 1967, Jews being expelled and excluded therefrom, desecration of Jewish holy places, destruction of the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, etc. etc. etc.).

Yep, poor Stevie not only can't read (the Road Map, that is), but is so downright inept that he just let the old lady ramble, in what is basically an extended puff piece about the most popular hotel for foreign correspondents. It is famous as a gathering point for the hacks that have descended upon Jerusalem to cover the poor, poor Palestinians struggle against Israeli oppression. The American Colony is close to Palestinian offices and provides a kind of faux-Oriental ambiance that parachuted-in hacks just love. See this piece in Israel Insider from a few years ago, one of many on the subject.

Guess he didn't have enough space to get into any of that.

Also, as meticulously detailed today in IRIS, Stevie got a whole lot of facts wrong.

Poor Stevie. He just can't do anything right. Buck up, guy! I know a great hotel in Jerusalem where I am sure you'd be welcome with open arms. Order the fish -- they say it's "brain food."
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