Patterico's Pontifications


Dean Baquet Declines My Request for an Interview

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:17 am

Yesterday I wrote this letter to L.A. Times editor Dean Baquet, requesting an interview about the paper’s disclosure of classified details of the legal and effective Swift counterterror program. I said, among other things:

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.

Mr. Baquet has declined my invitation.

He gave me a reason, which I have asked him to allow me to publish. It’s . . . unconvincing. But hopefully he’ll allow you to read it for yourself.

15 Responses to “Dean Baquet Declines My Request for an Interview”

  1. Of course he’s declined. Cowards always do.

    He knows he can’t defend the decision. So he ignores all opportunities to defend it other than the ones he directly controls (i.e., pieces written with Bill Keller of the new york times).

    Color me unsurprised.

    Bill M (d9e4b2)

  2. It’s pretty obvious—Mr. Baquet has visited your website here, read your posts, and concluded that he would be a dead duck if he submitted to your interview request.

    Mr. Baquet is accustomed to giving one-way monologues where he does not have to defend his positions.
    Contrarily, an interview is a two-way dialogue, and Mr. Baquet realizes tough questions are not in the best interest of his professional reputation.

    Desert Rat (d8da01)

  3. Keep hammering away, Patterico. I loved your letter to Baquet. I’m not surprised he doesn’t have the courage to defend his convictions.

    Have you seen today’s Times Joel Stein column online yet? It drips with disdain for our country and flag. I think it’s quite revealing that a paper that would publish classified secrets would also consider this column appropriate “inspirational” reading for our country’s 230th birthday:

    Best wishes and keep up the great work,

    Laura (a90377)

  4. My compliments. Some bloggers would have published the private contents of Mr Baquet’s e-mail, without first asking or receiving his permission. It is to your credit that you have declined to do so.

    Dana (1d5902)

  5. It will blow my mind if he refuses Pat permission to print the reason for refusal.

    Pat made a polite and legitimate request, received a polite response and reason, and it would really come off strange if Baquet denies permission. Dean B. is already trying to think two steps ahead, and what it would look like if he got upset at Patterico for publishing a ‘classified’ reply.

    JayCeezy (0e8cfa)

  6. Baquet does two steps forward, one step back. He dumps Robert Scheer from the op-ed page, then adds Joel Stein–who is sort of a Doofus Lite to Scheer’s Doofus act.

    The penny drops for him that Hiltzik has shot his credibility, so he removes him from the business pages–only to let him surface later in the sports section.

    Then he shoots himself in the foot with outing the Swift Program–then insults most people’s intelligence with the vapidity of his defense; jumps into bed with Bill Keller, for a joint defense (or because the two don’t know enough to stop digging when they’re in a hole, the start of a tunnel to China) then he gets out of town.

    This is the Peter Principle squared. Baquet is waaay out of his depth in these waters. But then, most of the editors/publishers of these papers are frequently out of their depth–but they are too arrogant to see it.

    I almost–but just almost–feel sorry for Baquet and Keller.

    Mike Myers (290636)

  7. If Baquet denies your request, then perhaps it calls for one of those tit fer tats. I mean, we folks who drive up traffic on this nice site surely have a RIGHT to know…don’t we?

    PaulC14 (98b75e)

  8. Let’s see, was his reason:

    You’re an insignificant little blogger and he wouldn’t deign to grant you – and the blog world in which you play – any legitimacy by allowing you to rub shoulers with someone such as himself?

    You’re a prosecutor and letting you interview him would create a conflict for the LAT when it came to covering your office?

    Unlike his reporters, who go into every story with an open mind, interested only in presenting the facts, you’ve made up your mind about this story… and he doesn’t want to reward you with a story?

    Because you don’t vote for the Pulitzers and he wants to save his time for really important people?

    Because you cancelled your subscription and he wants to let people know there’s a price to pay for such disloyalty?

    Because he didn’t think he should become the story as that would distract people from focusing their anger on what the Bush Administration is doing?

    Because he was busy prepping for his appearance before the federal grand jury investigating the leak?

    Because you didn’t say “Pretty please… with a cherry on top”?

    steve sturm (d3e296)

  9. Hmmm. Now let me see if I understand this: Baquet thinks it is great to reveal secrets based on the public’s “right to know.” Yet he doesn’t want you to reveal what he wrote to you regarding his refusal to be interviewed.

    Well, *this* public would like to know. Or does Baquet (and his ilk) alone get to decide what the public would like to know?

    Pretty ironic. Maybe someone will now “leak” Baquet’s e-mail to you, and then you would be journalistically obligated to share it, right? Again, the public has a right to know!

    Mark (e71505)

  10. If he tells you not to reveal his reason for declining the interview, post it anyway. Then you can say something like, “I agonized over this decision, and certainly took Mr. Baquet’s wishes into acount, but in the end I felt the public good had to come first.” Afterall, if the president of the united states, nor any bipartisan effort, is enough to keep him from publishing, why should whatever half-assed reason he gave you be of any concern? Show them what their logic inevitably leads to.

    thelinyguy (e32b76)

  11. Kevin Drum’s blog has the latest post about a survey of what he describes as “a slightly liberal” group and they conclude we are losing the war on terror. They are probably right and the Times, both of them, are helping accomplish that end.

    Mike K (0b762d)

  12. Talking Out of Both Sides of Their Mouths …

    The New York Times continues to speak with a forked tongue.

    Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times’s editors are …

    Dean's World (fa8fba)

  13. This is a reply I recieved from Al Martinez. His disdain for other views shows in the answer.

    (a) no. we need a third party. (b) not recently.

    —–Original Message—–
    From: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
    To: Martinez, Al [Pine]
    Sent: 7/2/2006 11:36 AM
    Subject: question

    Dear Mr. Martinez:

    I have read your columns as long as I have lived out here. I have
    two questions:

    A) Do you believe in the two-party system?

    B) Do you have anything good to write about local Republicans running
    for office?

    I have a bet riding on the fact that you have nothing good to say about
    any Republican below Governor (and even then you don’t have anything
    good to say). Also, I doubt that you know your AD Central Committee
    members from the GOP side, your articles tend to dismiss anyone who has
    a different opinion then you.

    This is a bet I would like to lose.


    Joseph S. Fein

    JSF (d8da01)

  14. […] I initially got an auto-reply that he was out of the office, but within hours of my request, he sent back a brief note declining the invitation. […]

    Patterico’s Pontifications » Still No Word from Baquet (421107)

  15. Isn’t there something we can DO about the treason of the LA Times, other than complain on web sites like this? Like inundating their 800 number (if they have one) or some other way? Are there NO consequences to the MSM for this blatant terrorist assistance? Creative minds out there need to develop something.

    Jack (0e4d32)

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