Bret Stephens’ NYT column on ‘Jewish Genius’ was fact-checked, editor says


(JTA) — A controversial column by New York Times columnist Bret Stephens, in which he cited a paper by a researcher who promoted eugenics, was edited and fact-checked, his editor said.

The Times editorial page editor James Bennet, who hired Stephens after assuming his position in 2016, told Politico that all columns appearing in the paper are edited.

The column published late last month, titled “The Secret of Jewish Genius,” cited a 2005 paper by researchers Gregory Cochran, Jason Hardy and Henry Harpending stating that “Ashkenazi Jews have the highest average I.Q. of any ethnic group for which there are reliable data.”

But the Southern Poverty Law Center said that Harpending was an anthropologist who possessed a white nationalist ideology and promoted eugenics.

The reference to the paper was removed two days after publication. An added editor’s note said, in part, that “Mr. Stephens was not endorsing the study or its authors’ views, but it was a mistake to cite it uncritically. The effect was to leave an impression with many readers that Mr. Stephens was arguing that Jews are genetically superior. That was not his intent.”

John Broder, who has been at the newspaper for more than 20 years, told Politico in an email that he is Stephens’ primary editor, but he did not discuss the column. “There was a mistake in this case, which is why the column now has an editors’ note,” a Times spokesperson said in an email.

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