NYT admits 'lax' on ethics reporting issue

Thomas Lifson
James Rainey of the Los Angeles Times catches the New York Times not living up to its own standards, and prompts a memo from Editor Bill Keller reminding staff to report outside speaking income. The issue is reporting outside income, especially from parties which might have an interest in the way the Times reports stories. There is no problem taking money from one of George Soros' nonprofits, but corporations and government agencies are of limits.

Star Times columnist Tom Friedman accepted $75,000 for speaking to the Bay Area Air Quality District, in violation of the Times' policy. My tax dollars, as a Bay Area resident, went to support Friedmans' words of wisdom. I have to wonder what the air quality monitors learned from him that was worth 75 grand of my hard earned tax dollars. How much do these folks spend ont he parties, anyway, if 75k is available for a speaker?

Rainey dogged Friedman and the Times about this until the Times made Friedman give the money back. Whereupon Bill Keeler realized that reporting of outside income, required by the Times, just wasn't happening.

New York Times Editor Bill Keller and the editor of the paper's editorial pages sent a memo to staffers, saying the paper had become "lax" in complying with an in-house ethics rule that requires an annual accounting of outside speaking income in excess of $5,000.

Those reports are normally supposed to be turned in by the end of January for the previous year. Keller told his staff that they now have until June 15 to account for their 2008 outside speaking loot.

Though he said he detected no ethical lapses, the Times editor asked his staff to review house rules for speaking to outside groups.

Still no indication that the Times would ever make public those annual reports, which I still argue would be the best way to reassure the public that journalists aren't being unduly influenced by special interests.

Friedman, who married a billionaire's daughter, recently saw his in-laws' company declare bankruptcy. The high-living advocate of energy conservation may need money now to support his lifestyle on the large estate he occupies.

Hat tip: Jack Kemp
James Rainey of the Los Angeles Times catches the New York Times not living up to its own standards, and prompts a memo from Editor Bill Keller reminding staff to report outside speaking income. The issue is reporting outside income, especially from parties which might have an interest in the way the Times reports stories. There is no problem taking money from one of George Soros' nonprofits, but corporations and government agencies are of limits.

Star Times columnist Tom Friedman accepted $75,000 for speaking to the Bay Area Air Quality District, in violation of the Times' policy. My tax dollars, as a Bay Area resident, went to support Friedmans' words of wisdom. I have to wonder what the air quality monitors learned from him that was worth 75 grand of my hard earned tax dollars. How much do these folks spend ont he parties, anyway, if 75k is available for a speaker?

Rainey dogged Friedman and the Times about this until the Times made Friedman give the money back. Whereupon Bill Keeler realized that reporting of outside income, required by the Times, just wasn't happening.

New York Times Editor Bill Keller and the editor of the paper's editorial pages sent a memo to staffers, saying the paper had become "lax" in complying with an in-house ethics rule that requires an annual accounting of outside speaking income in excess of $5,000.

Those reports are normally supposed to be turned in by the end of January for the previous year. Keller told his staff that they now have until June 15 to account for their 2008 outside speaking loot.

Though he said he detected no ethical lapses, the Times editor asked his staff to review house rules for speaking to outside groups.

Still no indication that the Times would ever make public those annual reports, which I still argue would be the best way to reassure the public that journalists aren't being unduly influenced by special interests.

Friedman, who married a billionaire's daughter, recently saw his in-laws' company declare bankruptcy. The high-living advocate of energy conservation may need money now to support his lifestyle on the large estate he occupies.

Hat tip: Jack Kemp