Patterico's Pontifications


Still Nothing from Baquet — But We’ll Be Working on the Transcript

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General,Hiltzik — Patterico @ 12:14 am

Dean Baquet was back in the office as of Tuesday. So yesterday (Thursday) I sent him a friendly note asking again whether he’ll allow me to print his reason for declining to let me interview him about the paper’s disclosure of the Swift bank monitoring counterterror program:

Mr. Baquet,

According to your out-of-office reply, you should be back in the office.

I realize it’s always busy when one returns from vacation. Still, could you respond to my request that I be allowed to quote your e-mail explaining why you won’t be interviewed?

I’m told by many people who would know that you probably expected it to be quotable, without my having to ask your permisison. But I think the polite thing for me to do is to ask, since I didn’t make it clear that I intended to print any reply.

Yours truly,

Patrick Frey

I have the feeling that I’m talking to a brick wall, but you never know. We’ll give him a few more days before we conclude that he is simply refusing to reply. If he never responds, I won’t publish it. But if it happens that way, it will be a disappointment and, I think, an example of cheating members of the public out of something they have a right to know.

In the meantime, I’ll work on transcribing portions of Luke Ford’s tape recording of Baquet’s interview regarding the Hiltzik matter and “pushback.” (Some of you may have missed the fact that there is a recording; it was a late update to the “pushback” post.)

I am especially interested in the parts where he claims that what happened to Hiltzik was in part a result of the paper’s failure to “push back” effectively (!). That is an odd statement that I hadn’t noticed in Luke’s description. Also, he believes that part of the reason for the paper’s declining circulation is “cheap criticism” of the paper. (And he sounds plenty angry when he says it, too!)

This could be the real reason he won’t let me interview him after all: maybe he thinks my blog is an example of the “cheap criticism” that is costing him readers — and that cost him a business columnist. (He didn’t say any of this; I’m speculating here.)

If that’s what he thinks, I disagree. I think my criticism is well-founded and fair — not “cheap.” Maybe he agrees; maybe not. But I wish I could ask him myself, and get him to answer.

Anyway, these are just teasers. There is a lot more to discuss from Luke’s recording. But it will be a more focused discussion with a transcript. So stay tuned.

13 Responses to “Still Nothing from Baquet — But We’ll Be Working on the Transcript”

  1. Cheap? It’s free!

    See Dubya (921613)

  2. Hugh Hewitt had an interesting column ystdy about the inbreeding at large newspapers and why MSM can’t see its credibility gap with the public. He said that, in large part, the problem stems from the fact that these people have rarely ever held a job outside the field and, in fact, hardly even converse with people outside the field.

    That was my experience when I worked in journalism. We ate, drank, and slept it. We ignored or blew off criticism from those stupid readers because they obviously didn’t UNDERSTAND what we were trying to do for them! After 15 yrs on the outside, all I can say is that journalists truly are a bunch of single-minded, arrogant chumps who owe their readers better. And I’m not surprised that Mr. Baquet considers criticism of the LAT to be “cheap.” The old joke is, “What’s the difference between a journalist and a bum? Bums have better taste in pants.”

    sharon (fecb65)

  3. I’m for civility, courtesy, and ‘all that stuff’ as they say in “Superman Returns,” but I do think you’re going too far in NOT publishing Baquet’s ‘reason’ for not being interviewed.

    Patterico, I’m sure that after the Hiltzik episode, Baquet considers you to be an ‘evil’ guy, so if he already went ahead and informed you what the reason is, then one can deduce that he didn’t intend for it to be kept a secret.

    Especially if Baquet doesn’t even bother to protest your polite request for his permission to reveal the reason—that would suggest he simply doesn’t care one way or the other if you reveal it or not.

    It just sounds so ridiculously absurd that a journalist who published secret information about the government’s war on terrorism even after being asked not to by the President of the United States…has a ‘secret’ reason for not submitting to (gasp !)…an interview.

    Unless his email included the secret formula to Coca-Cola, or the admission that the Times’ awful soccer writer Grahame Jones moonlights as a drag queen in West Hollywood, you ought to reveal his ‘reason.’

    Besides, the Times’ policy is that it is in the public interest.

    Desert Rat (d8da01)

  4. I agree with Desert Rat. Send him a note stating that you will respect his wishes if HE E-MAILS YOU to request keeping the reason private. If no response, assume assent. Isn’t that a principle in the law ?

    Mike K (416363)

  5. Really, if there was no notification that the communication was confidential, you’re under absolutely no obligation, moral or otherwise, to refrain from quoting it.

    Pablo (efa871)

  6. Like the posts above:

    Is it possible to just e-mail Baquet and tell him, “I plan on publishing your response unless I hear from you”?

    DPierre (904af1)

  7. The first question should always be “Why should you not publish?”

    -The New York Times

    John Ekdahl (1fe18c)

  8. Why do you need permission? Publish it. First Amendment. Sheesh

    Don Surber (1e4911)

  9. Who necessarily wants to hear anything that Baquet has to say? I mean Baquet’s response may have given Patterico a private chuckle, but Baquet could tell me that the sun would rise in the east tomorrow—and I’d seek independent verification. I’ll go with Sharon’s comment above.

    Mike Myers (290636)

  10. You’re showing your cards too early, and your magnanimity isn’t earning any goodwill with Baquet. A retraction of your commitment not to publish seems in order. And don’t commit to respect his wishes on the matter. He didn’t give it to you with the understanding it wouldn’t be published, so it’s your information now, not his. Publish it if you think you should, or if you just want to. That’s the way Baquet and his paper treated the rest of us when the issue was our security. He’s in no position to expect anyone to respect his wishes regarding disclosure.

    TNugent (6128b4)

  11. If Pat does publish without Ba-Kay’s express consent, it indicates:
    1) Pat did not sincerely mean what he wrote earlier in his e-mail correspondence.
    2) Pat changed his mind, when it was no longer convenient to hold his previosly stated opinion.
    3) Pat doesn’t care about any further relationship, correspondence, interaction, etc. with Ba-Kay.

    Patterico, you have shown yourself to have a lot of character and continue to do so now. Character is doing something, even when it is not immediately gratifying or easy. To publish would satisfy our curiousity (@#$!, I want to know what he said, too!) but that’s all. You are the real deal.

    JayCeezy (8aa325)

  12. I read somewhere that you can publish anything, even government secrets, if it’s in the “public interest”.

    Actual (dfe6b2)

  13. Who necessarily wants to hear anything that Baquet has to say? I mean Baquet’s response may have given Patterico a private chuckle, but Baquet could tell me that the sun would rise in the east tomorrow—and I’d seek independent verification. I’ll go with Sharon’s comment above.

    Mailto (3b118c)

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