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:
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.
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.