Politico | Gawker
A cousin of the late New York Times correspondent Anthony Shadid is claiming that Shadid was unhappy with the arrangements for his trip to Syria, and that Shadid told his wife that if he died on the trip, it would be the Times’ fault. Politico’s Dylan Byers initially reported what Ed Shadid said in a speech Saturday night to the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee, and Gawker’s John Cook got more details in an interview. The video of the speech has also been posted online.
According to Ed Shadid, a security advisor for the Times “forbade” Shadid from entering Syria in December because it was too dangerous. A few months later, after CNN had gained access to a rebel stronghold, Shadid’s editors told him to go, Ed Shadid said. The night before he was to leave, “the plans started to fall apart,” and he got into an argument with his editors, according to his cousin.
The Times denied the allegations. New York Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy told Byers:
With respect, we disagree with Ed Shadid’s version of the facts. The Times does not pressure reporters to go into combat zones. Anthony was an experienced, motivated correspondent. He decided whether, how and when to enter Syria, and was told by his editors, including on the day of the trip, that he should not make the trip if he felt it was not advisable for any reason.
In his speech, Ed Shadid took issue with statements that romanticized his cousin’s death, such as what former Executive Editor Bill Keller wrote:
He understood the basic rule of reporting: always go. He went to places that were inaccessible and dangerous and miserable — not as a daredevil or adrenaline junkie, not recklessly, often reluctantly, always with the most meticulous and careful planning — but he knew you had to be there.
Ed Shadid, a doctor and city councilman in Oklahoma City, also questions whether Shadid died of an asthma attack, saying it sounded more like a heart attack. He noted that Shadid was a smoker and says he’s never seen the results of an autopsy. In the speech he called for the news industry to do a better job of protecting its journalists, for instance by requiring regular health checkups.
Ed Shadid doesn’t say how he knows what Anthony Shadid and his editors discussed the night before he left, nor how he knows what Anthony Shadid supposedly told his wife, Nada Bakri (also a Times reporter). She’s not talking, having tweeted Monday:
I do not approve of and will not be a part of any public discussion of Anthony’s passing. It does nothing but sadden Anthony’s children to have to endure repeated public discussion of the circumstances of their father’s death.
Cook writes that Ed Shadid wouldn’t say whether Bakri “agreed with Ed’s assessment of Anthony’s state of mind before leaving for Syria.”