The Gray Lady's silence

Is the New York Times finessing its leaking of  of the National Security Agency's eavesdropping by allowing  its public editor, Byron Calame,  to mildly criticize the executive editor and publisher for not answering his questions about the situation?

For the first time since I became public editor, the executive editor and the publisher have declined to respond to my requests for information about news—related decision—making. My queries concerned the timing of the exclusive Dec. 16 article about President Bush's secret decision in the months after 9/11 to authorize the warrantless eavesdropping on Americans in the United States.

And on and on his explanation goes. But he is loyal to his employer; he admires them and agrees with them for informing the public of NSA's secret activities.

Whatever its path to publication, Mr. Sulzberger and Mr. Keller deserve credit for its eventual appearance in the face of strong White House pressure to kill it. And the basic accuracy of the account of the eavesdropping stands unchallenged — a testament to the talent in the trenches.

His only problem——he just believes the Times' editors didn't explain their mission properly.

Despite this stonewalling, my objectives today are to assess the flawed handling of the original explanation of the article's path into print, and to offer a few thoughts on some factors that could have affected the timing of the article. My intention is to do so with special care, because my 40—plus years of newspapering leave me keenly aware that some of the toughest calls an editor can face are involved here — those related to intelligence gathering, election—time investigative articles and protection of sources. On these matters, reasonable disagreements can abound inside the newsroom.

Hey Mr. Calame——there are loads of reasonable disagreements of all aspects of this situation abounding outside the newsroom as well.

Ethel C. Fenig  1 01 06

Is the New York Times finessing its leaking of  of the National Security Agency's eavesdropping by allowing  its public editor, Byron Calame,  to mildly criticize the executive editor and publisher for not answering his questions about the situation?

For the first time since I became public editor, the executive editor and the publisher have declined to respond to my requests for information about news—related decision—making. My queries concerned the timing of the exclusive Dec. 16 article about President Bush's secret decision in the months after 9/11 to authorize the warrantless eavesdropping on Americans in the United States.

And on and on his explanation goes. But he is loyal to his employer; he admires them and agrees with them for informing the public of NSA's secret activities.

Whatever its path to publication, Mr. Sulzberger and Mr. Keller deserve credit for its eventual appearance in the face of strong White House pressure to kill it. And the basic accuracy of the account of the eavesdropping stands unchallenged — a testament to the talent in the trenches.

His only problem——he just believes the Times' editors didn't explain their mission properly.

Despite this stonewalling, my objectives today are to assess the flawed handling of the original explanation of the article's path into print, and to offer a few thoughts on some factors that could have affected the timing of the article. My intention is to do so with special care, because my 40—plus years of newspapering leave me keenly aware that some of the toughest calls an editor can face are involved here — those related to intelligence gathering, election—time investigative articles and protection of sources. On these matters, reasonable disagreements can abound inside the newsroom.

Hey Mr. Calame——there are loads of reasonable disagreements of all aspects of this situation abounding outside the newsroom as well.

Ethel C. Fenig  1 01 06