‘NYT’ Vet Adam Nagourney Has No Problem with Spoof Site

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By: Joe Strupp

In the exploding world of political blogs, adamnagourney.com may not appear at first to be anything unusual. As a leading political writer for The New York Times, Adam Nagourney would seem a natural to have his own Web space for spouting off on politics, news, and anything else.

Except in this case, the Web site named for the veteran Times scribe is a fake. The mystery person or persons operating the site with Nagourney’s name are doing so without his permission — and certainly without what you’d imagine to be his opinions.

Recent entries to the site, named Ad Nags and purported to be — at least tongue-in-cheek — Nagourney’s views, include the following:

Oct. 30, 2004: “Got stuck writing one of those ‘he said, he said, he said, he said, he said, he said, probably bad for Kerry’ pieces today. This time I actually did it blindfolded! The Daily News gets all the fun stuff.”

Oct. 24, 2004: “Isn’t it great that I have a handler like [Times Public Editor] Danny ‘Cheeks’ Okrent? Every time I get a mean email I just make a quick call to Okie and he’ll take care of it.”

Nov. 8, 2004: “Here is some free advice. Why do I succeed so much in my job? 1. I don’t let my ‘personal integrity’ get in the way of furthering my career. 2. I don’t let my knowledge of reality get in the way of reporting as truth stuff I know to be false. 3. I kiss Charlie Rose’s ass (he loves intellectuals who deride others for being too intellectual) 4. I write like those who have always bullied me. 5. I have Daniel Okrent put hits out on people who criticize me.”

The latest entry, on Monday, offered a satirical apology from Nagourney for his objectivity. “There are people who read The New York Times unquestioningly, there are people who read the Grey Lady without having the proper amount of suspicion. These people are our true constituency, these are our most supportive and as such the most proper of readers. Now that the election has ended, (except for voting irregularities in Ohio, which I plan on writing about just after mid-term elections), it is the proper time for me to acknowledge that my coverage of John Kerry was a bit askew.”

Most of the entries include links to Nagourney’s story of the day, or often to other stories competing with or scooping his work.

But as offensive, and perhaps libelous, as the site might be, Nagourney says he pays no attention to it and has no plans to have it taken down. In fact, the 50-year-old reporter believes the blogger — whoever he or she is — has the constitutional right to say what he or she wants about Nagourney.

“I am an absolutist when it comes to the First Amendment,” Nagourney, who is based in Washington, D.C, told E&P. “I think for a reporter for The New York Times to close down an avenue of expression, no matter how twisted and weird it is, is not right.”

When the blog first appeared in September, Nagourney said he thought about having it removed and regretted for a moment not registering his name himself. But, he has since stopped being concerned with it. “Hopefully, people realize it is not me,” he said. “There are worse blogs out there. I don’t read it anymore, there are too many other things to read.”

Nagourney said someone in the Times newsroom tracked down the blog’s author, but he added that he did not seek the person out and would not reveal the person’s identity. Efforts by E&P to identify the person proved unsuccessful as the site is registered with a protected owner.

Adamnagourney.com has drawn some extra attention for its namesake, who has worked at the Times since 1996 and held previous reporting posts at USA Today and New York’s Daily News. “I got calls from MSNBC and the Daily News gossip columns asking if it was real,” Nagourney said. “But it seems like last week’s news to me. I can’t believe anyone would read more than three entries and believe it’s me.”

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