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October 26, 2018 12:17 pm

New York Times Publisher Defends His Embattled Zionist Columnists

avatar by Ira Stoll

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The headquarters of The New York Times. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The publisher of The New York Times, A. G. Sulzberger, is rising to the defense of two embattled Zionists who write for his op-ed page.

Sulzberger was recently interviewed before a live audience by his former Times colleague, Brian Stelter, who now works at CNN.

Stelter asked him, “What about the idea that your opinion section, you get so much criticism of your opinion section, columnists like Bari Weiss and Bret Stephens, people sometimes threaten to quit the paper over, to cancel their subscriptions over this. Does that matter to you? Do you want your readers to be challenged? Do you think your readers want to be challenged, in this day and age?”

Sulzberger answered, “I think our readers absolutely want to be challenged.”

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He said that research indicated Times readers share a “unifying trait” of curiosity.

“Our readers are people who spend their time wanting to understand things they don’t know about, and to have their views challenged, and to push themselves in various ways,” Sulzberger said.

“I understand that people aren’t always happy with particular stories or even writers that we bring on staff, but I do think that, when measured in sum, that those folks have added a ton to our report, and that the bulk of our readers have really welcomed them,” he continued.

Stephens and Weiss described themselves in a recent Times column as “unhinged Zionists.”

Sulzberger also firmly rejected Stelter’s urging that he bring back a “public editor” to address reader concerns.

“The notion that there was like one person who could be accountable for what the world thought of our work felt very old-fashioned to me,” the publisher said.

It’s not clear why Weiss and Stephens, as opposed to any other Times op-ed columnists, would be the topic of particular Times reader outrage or the focus of the CNN reporter’s question. Stephens, a former editor of The Jerusalem Post, is a contributor to MSNBC, a cable news network that competes with CNN. Both Weiss and Stephens came to the Times from The Wall Street Journal editorial page. Stephens’ hire was announced in April of 2017, and Sulzberger took over as publisher on January 1, 2018.

More of Ira Stoll’s media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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