New York Times’ Brisbane weighs in on draft-sharing dustup

The New York Times
Outgoing Times Public Editor Arthur Brisbane interrupts his lame-duck week to lower the boom on Mark Mazzetti and Maureen Dowd. Dowd asked Mazzetti, a national security reporter, to help her fact-check part of an upcoming column pertaining to the CIA; he sent the agency the whole thing.

“I see this as a problem of boundaries – the failure to maintain them,” Brisbane writes. Boundary no. 1 is the more obvious one: Mazzetti shouldn’t be sending drafts to sources. Brisbane gets some interesting pushback from Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson when he asked whether Mazzetti was doing CIA spokesperson Marie Harf a favor by sending the column: “this didn’t come from me….and please delete after you read,” Mazzetti wrote Harf. “See, nothing to worry about.”

“I can’t provide further detail on why the entire column was sent. I can assure you that Mark was not doing the C.I.A. a favor,” Abramson told Brisbane. “He is an experienced, terrific reporter. Your suggestion is flat wrong.”

On Tuesday, Times Managing Editor Dean Baquet told Dylan Byers: “I know the circumstances, and if you knew everything that’s going on, you’d know it’s much ado about nothing.” … “The optics aren’t what they look like.”

Doesn’t seem like we’re going to learn more about these mysterious circumstances and details from either of these folks. So on to Boundary no. 2: Dowd works for The Times’ opinion shop. Mazzetti’s an editorial employee. “I don’t see there is any breach,” Mazzetti told Brisbane. Dowd “is not assigning me stories, I am not assigning her columns. It is colleagues helping each other.”

“The problem, I think, is that many will not see it that way,” Brisbane writes.

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  • Clayton Burns

    The NYT needs to make some changes with its Public Editor, who should control the staff. I do not think that Joseph Burgess has the ability to continue in his position.
    The Public Editor cannot be played by legal, or by protestations that something is intel.
    What is most troubling is the delete instruction. That potentially makes The NYT complicit in the destruction of public evidence.
    Something that troubles me is The NYT’s collusion with the College Board, a group it should be actively investigating.
    Brisbane: And one final note: many thanks to Joseph Burgess, my assistant, who ably helped me fulfill the duties of the public editor.

  • Clayton Burns

    Correspondence and collusion between the New York Times and the CIA
    Mark Mazzetti’s emails with the CIA expose the degradation of journalism that has lost the imperative to be a check to power
    Glenn, Wednesday 29 August 2012 19.58 BST

  • Geezer

    Wait. Jill Abramson won’t even tell her own Public Editor the facts of the case? Oh yeah, Brisbane just wrote about the “progressive” mindset bleeding through all their reporting — so he is probably no longer a trusted colleague for having committed truth.