I have written this letter to Dean Baquet:
Dear Mr. Baquet,
As I believe you are aware, I run a blog called “Patterico’s Pontifications” that is frequently critical of your newspaper. I am appalled by your decision and that of New York Times editor Bill Keller to publish classified details of a legal and effective counterterror program with appropriate safeguards.
I have read both your personal defense of the publication decision, as well as the one that you have written jointly with Mr. Keller. Many questions remain unanswered.
I would like to ask you those questions.
I am asking you to do an interview with me, in any format you choose — via e-mail, on the phone, in person, or on the radio. (I am quite sure we could find a radio venue if that’s what you’d prefer.)
Publishing op-eds defending your decision is all well and good, but you have yet to face the truly tough questions. I think you should be willing to do that. In your op-eds, you and Mr. Keller have alluded to the quasi-governmental role of the press in our system as a watchdog. Indeed, many refer to newspapers as the Fourth Estate — the fourth branch of government. Further, you and Mr. Keller appear willing to arrogate to yourselves some of the powers of duly elected officials, such as choosing what classified information will be disclosed to our citizens (and our enemies). If you are going to exercise such awesome and quasi-governmental powers, you should face the same kind of scrutiny that you would expect members of the actual government to face in similar circumstances.
In sum, you have a responsibility to defend your decisions to the public — not simply in antiseptic op-ed pieces ringing with platitudes, but also by facing difficult questions posed by someone who disagrees with your decision.
I look forward to your response.
I’ll let you know if I hear anything back.
UPDATE: I have received an autoreply to my e-mail stating:
Dean Baquet is out of the office until Tuesday, July 11.
If you need immediate assistance with a news story please contact Managing Editor Doug Frantz @ firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hopefully all this Swift nonsense will have blown over by then, eh?