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New journalism standard? – All the news that’s fit to print of national interest — except what I’m withholding for my book

Poynter, the nonprofit institute long known as the go-to authority and supporter for ethical, excellent journalism, has published a provocative piece with this  subhead: “… new book stirs debate about reporters withholding information.” 


The opinion piece, by Tom Jonesreflects on the significance of the imminent book by the New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, the seemingly indefatigable correspondent on matters relating to former President Trump. The Haberman book includes this previously unreported jaw-dropper:

“’I’m just not going to leave.’ That, apparently, is what former President Donald Trump told an aide in the days following the 2020 presidential election….”

Other key excerpts from Jones’ Poynter piece:

“Haberman wrote that Trump went from seemingly recognizing that he had lost the election to being defiant that he had won. The idea of refusing to leave the White House is not surprising when it comes to Trump, but it also had not been reported previously.

“Because it’s now coming out in a book, Haberman is being criticized in some circles for holding on to information — a frequent criticism of reporters who write books about the subjects they cover…

“That was the general criticism — that Haberman withheld information that the public should have known before now.”

In the time-honored journalistic standard to be fair, Poynter presented a Times defense:

“Of course, we have no idea as to when Haberman learned of this particular detail, nor should it be assumed that not previously reporting Trump’s threats posed a national security threat. In a statement to The Wrap’s Andi Ortiz, a Times spokesperson said, ‘Maggie Haberman took leave from The Times to write her book. In the course of reporting the book, she shared considerable newsworthy information with The Times. Editors decided what news was best suited for our news report.’”

Others were not so gentle.

Here’s communications consultant Tom Watson @tomwatson:

“It’s the biggest NYT scandal in our lifetime…Their reporter knew a year ago and covered it up for a pay day. Blame the paper. It’s the publisher’s disgraceful policy to allow this perfidy.”

Steve Schmidt, former Republican advisor, tweeted a lengthy lacerating analysis of the subject including:  “Ponder this. It’s incredible….The American people found out about it in a book, not the New York Times.” @SteveSchmidtSES

The Poynter article concludes with context and significance of this kind of journalism:

“In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper on the revelations in Haberman’s book … Republican Congresswoman Liz Chaney said,

 “… ‘when you hear something like that, I think you have to recognize that we were in no man’s land and territory we’d never been in before as a nation… And if you have a president who’s refusing to leave the White House, or who’s saying he refuses to leave the White House, then anyone who sort of stands aside and says someone else will handle it is themselves putting the nation at risk, because it’s clear that, when you’re at a moment that we faced, everyone’s got to stand up and take responsibility. And I think it’s not surprising that those are the sentiments that he reportedly expressed. I think, again, it just affirms the reality of the danger.,.’ “

Published by

John Paluszek

Status is online
Executive Editor at Business In Society

Executive Editor at Business In Society