No Mark Arax Authorship On Armenian Genocide
No one can legitimately quarrel with Frantz's statement on the matter. "I put a hold on a story because of concerns that the reporter had expressed personal views about the topic in a public manner and therefore was not a disinterested party," he explained.
No one who knows Mark Arax, who is of Armenian dissent, can reasonably take issue with that conclusion. Arax, like almost all Armenians, remains, as is very understandable, extremely resentful of the World War I genocide when, by well authenticated historical record, Turks murdered more than a million rebellious Armenians. If what Saddam Hussein did to rebellious Iraqi Kurds was unacceptable, so definitely was the Turkish treatment of the Armenians, and that is true even without any formal Congressional action to call it a genocide. Congress may hold back, because of concerns about impact on relations with Turkey, where we have an important air base to supply our forces in Iraq. But what it does or does not do will not change the historical record.
I do not believe Arax has a leg to stand on in his assertion that Frantz has violated anti-discrimination provisions of the U.S. Civil Rights Act in refusing to run his article. It is not discrimination to refuse to permit an employee who has a pronounced view about a subject from writing about that subject.
But, to be fair to Arax, the Times has not always been consistent in that approach.
The Times, for instance, has allowed Henry Weinstein to write articles for years about capital punishment when it is well known that Weinstein is against capital punishment. Also, the Times has had Jewish bureau chiefs in Jerusalem covering the Arab-Israeli dispute, although Marjorie Miller was scrupulously fair and so was Dial Torgerson, who I believe was Jewish. Strangely enough, the only Times bureau chief in the Israeli capital who was perceived as unfair, leaning to the Arab side, was Tracy Wilkinson, who is not Jewish.
I was personally a victim once in my career of the Times' inconsistent approach. When I refused an assignment to go out and interview an ex-Nazi SS camp guard, for the stated view that as a Jew I felt biased against him and didn't want to deal with him, the Times suspended me for three days, and then-editor Bill Thomas upheld the suspension.
I think there ought to be more consistency.
For that reason, I believe it makes no sense for the Times to be paying Frantz's way to Istanbul, where he once represented the Times, if there is any appearance of siding with Turkish positions in the Armenian matter. I'm not certain there is, because I'm not personally familiar with what is to be discussed at the conference or with Frantz's views, whatever they are, but appearances in this business are terribly important, and it would, I think, be better for Frantz to step back.
Both Arax and Frantz have high integrity, and stand for important things. This dispute should not be allowed to cost the Times the future services of either one of them.
And it goes without saying it is important as well that the Times continue to cover the Armenian genocide, capital punishment and the Arab-Israeli dispute. But it should use
reporters who have been somewhat reserved in the pronouncement of their own opinions on these subjects.
There are reports this morning that Solomon Moore, an outstanding L.A. Times reporter in Iraq and on many other assignments, is moving to the New York Times. He is the latest of several terrific people to leave the Times since the usurping publisher David Hiller fired Dean Baquet as editor last year, and bespeaks the lack of confidence many Times people feel about the future of the Times under Tribune Co. control. Losing Moore, like the others, is too bad. He will be missed, and, under the present circumstances, we can only expect he will not be the last talented person to go.
The New York Times devoted the first page of an advertising supplement on their reporting to Somini Sengupta, a former L.A. Times Metro Pro who went to the New York Times and is now their New Delhi bureau chief. Sengupta, a native of India who grew up in California, is well chosen for the honor. Along with the NYT's John Burns, she has emerged as one of the most outstanding NYT foreign correspondents in a long line of great reporters that included A.M. Rosenthal, C.L. Sulzberger, Bill Keller, Homer Bigart and the late, great David Halberstam, who has just been killed in a Bay Area auto crash. Sengupta is still young, and her best days undoubtedly lie ahead.
Labels: Reporters' Opinions