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.

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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