The New York Times

New York Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan asks Times D.C. bureau chief David Leonhardt why the paper didn't ask President Obama about government surveillance during its recent exclusive interview, something I wondered about Monday.

Reporters Jackie Calmes and Michael D. Shear “had a surveillance question on their list but they didn’t get to it,” Leonhardt told Sullivan.

Mr. Leonhardt said that he doubted he could have pressed successfully for an interview with a national security focus.

“He is not willing to grant a 40-minute interview on drones right now,” he said.

But, I asked, if the interview could veer into topics as far-flung as health care and the March on Washington, why couldn’t it at least take a stab at the hottest topic of the moment?

“That’s in the realm of legitimate critique and debate,” Mr. Leonhardt said, while noting that Ms. Calmes had asked a surveillance-related question at a recent presidential news conference.

Leonhardt told Sullivan, as he told The Huffington Post's Michael Calderone Monday, that the White House placed no restrictions on the interview.

Correction: This post originally misspelled Calderone's last name.