By: E&P Staff
The new New York Times public editor, Byron Calame (late of The Wall Street Journal), is so anxious to start working he filed his first critique two days before he’s set to assume his new post, on Monday.
Since there was no space yet for him in the newspaper, he submitted an entry to outgoing ombud Daniel Okrent’s Web journal, where it appeared with many others — though with more clout, no doubt.
What moved Calame to write was the controversy over the so-called “Downing Street Memo.” That’s the document containing secret minutes of a July 2002 meeting of top British advisers to Prime Minister Tony Blair, which indicated that the U.S. had already decided to go to war against Iraq and that intelligence on WMDs “were being fixed around the policy.”
He said he had received a “flood” of e-mail demanding to know why the Times had given the memo scant coverage after first mentioning it on May 2, not getting back to it until a Doug Jehl re-cap on May 20.
Calame concluded that “it appears that key editors simply were slow to recognize that the minutes of a high-powered meeting on a life-and-death issue — their authenticity undisputed — probably needed to be assessed in some fashion for readers. Even if the editors decided it was old news that Mr. Bush had decided in July 2002 to attack Iraq or that the minutes didn’t provide solid evidence that the administration was manipulating intelligence, I think Times readers deserved to know that earlier than today’s article.”