September 19, 2021

NYT defends publishing information on whistleblower | TheHill

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The New York Times on Thursday defended the paper’s decision to disclose key details about the whistleblower whose complaint against President TrumpDonald John TrumpWhistleblower filed Trump complaint after going to CIA general counsel: report Trump campaign, GOP raise M after Pelosi announces impeachment inquiry New York Times Opinion hits Trump in Star Wars-themed video MORE has sparked an impeachment inquiry.

In a note published Thursday afternoon, the Times said it was aware of criticism of its decision to include what detractors have said could serve as identifying details and make the person a target for retaliation.

The newspaper wrote that it took the concerns to executive editor Dean Baquet, who argued that the information — including the fact that the whistleblower is allegedly a CIA officer — was necessary context to allow readers to draw conclusions about the whistleblower’s reliability.

“The president and some of his supporters have attacked the credibility of the whistle-blower, who has presented information that has touched off a landmark impeachment proceeding. The president himself has called the whistle-blower’s account a ‘political hack job,'” Baquet said.

“We decided to publish limited information about the whistle-blower — including the fact that he works for a nonpolitical agency and that his complaint is based on an intimate knowledge and understanding of the White House — because we wanted to provide information to readers that allows them to make their own judgments about whether or not he is credible,” he added, according to the Times.

Baquet offered a similar justification in a statement tweeted by the Times earlier Thursday.

“The role of the whistle-blower, including his credibility and his place in the government, is essential to understanding one of the most important issues facing the country – whether the president of the United States abused power and whether the White House covered it up,” Baquet said.

Dean Baquet, our executive editor, explains why we chose to publish the information about the whistle-blower https://t.co/5BtDXYpoiz pic.twitter.com/s0mZaivG3t

— The New York Times (@nytimes) September 26, 2019

The decision to publish the information was sharply criticized Thursday afternoon, with critics saying the information could expose the whistleblower to retaliation, particularly in the wake of a recording of Trump privately saying the official who gave the whistleblower information was “close to a spy” and expressing nostalgia for “what we used to do in the old days.”

I cannot think of a good reason for the Times to publish information about the whistleblower’s identity. I read the piece, I read Dean Baquet’s defense, and none of it makes any sense.

— Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp) September 26, 2019

Riddle me this: NYT attempts to out a whistleblower protected by law while regularly granting anonymity to Trump Administration officials who have repeatedly used the paper to mislead the public. pic.twitter.com/inALoPGqpx

— Eric Schultz (@EricSchultz) September 26, 2019

Be sure to mention Dean Baquet when talking about people who didn’t cover themselves in glory during the Trump impeachment saga. https://t.co/Y0RXcvpqEv

— Mark R. Yzaguirre (@markyzaguirre) September 26, 2019

Dear Board of Directors of the NYT: what Dean Baquet did today was immoral, irresponsible& intolerable. We have a free press because of people willing to defend democracy. If it was left to 45, you’d all be in jail. HOW DARE YOU betray our democracy by endangering its protectors?

— Pam Keith (@PamKeithFL) September 26, 2019

Others noted that the Times included far less identifying information when it published an anonymous op-ed by a White House employee who claimed they and others within the executive branch were subtly undermining Trump.

NYTimes executive editor Dean Baquet says “The role of the whistle-blower, including his credibility and his place in the government, is essential.”

What about the credibility and place in government of the author of that anonymous op-ed you ran? pic.twitter.com/UAK6U909p1

— Abraham Gutman (@abgutman) September 26, 2019

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Zack Budryk
The Hill

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