The NYT's excellent public editor Margaret Sullivan with a new column on one of her pet, and most important, topics: the paper in the past caving to U.S. officials asking or demanding that they kill stories for alleged national security reasons. Of course, editors now admit they were too weak in the past--although Bill Keller, one of the worst, is still trying to stand tall while the overpraised Jill Abramson admits they were "naive." There's more to be said but for now two more things:
1) Sullivan failed to follow-up on current editor Dean Baquet saying that, yes, the paper is now acting "much, much" tougher, noting hardly a month goes by that he does not get a serious request to hold or kill a piece. How often does he cave? No, not never, but "rarely." Sullivan does not press him on how rare or what is involved or why or what.
2) There's another amazing loose end as well. That recent claim by James Risen that the Times succumbed to U.S. pressure in 2002 to hold for a year his story on an al-Qaeda figure we held in Thailand? No one remembers signing off on it--not former editor Howell Raines nor publisher Arthur Sulzberger and D.C. chief Abramson. Is it possible that managing ed. Gerald Boyd--like Raines, disgraced in the Jayson Blair affair--made the decision on his own while Raines was away? And never told anyone? Seems very unlikely. Or a mind-boggling step by a managing ed.