David Kirkpatrick Covers The Circus And Shtups Babar
The Washington Post is so determined to avoid conflict of interests that executive editor Len Downie famously doesn't vote.
Wonderful. Maybe too insure further objectivity he shouldn't even read his own paper.
The New York Times has a more sensible policy, famously encapsulated by Abe Rosenthal, with his typical subtle touch and exquisite vocabulary. "I don't care if [Times] reporters are fucking elephants just as long as they are not covering the circus."
David Kirkpatrick (email@example.com), has been doing both. As the reporter on the New York Times conservative beat, Kirkpatrick was one of the keynote speakers at a highly partisan event sponsored by the Hudson Institute, one of the organizations he was responsible for covering
Washington editor Kate Phillips and national editor Jim Roberts both say Kirkpatrick failed to inform them he spoke at the Hudson shindig. The other speakers were all firmly on the right: Richard Perle, David Keene of the Conservative Union, which Kirkpatrick was responsible for covering, and hawkish TNR foreign affairs writer Lawrence "the girl" Kaplan.
The presence of the New York Times allowed the organizers to feign objectivity and balance. Worse yet, Kirkpatrick, didn't even ask the participants one tough question, allowed counter-intuitive claims by his fellow panelists to go unchallenged and even outright carried water for them. Just think he had Richard Perle at his side and didn't ask him about all the serious allegations that had been dogging him? Or ask him to explain why the WMD's were never located?
(David Kirkpatrick's lover)
This is, for many reasons, far more serious stuff than Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse marching in the 1989 rally for legal abortion. Greenhouse attended as a "private citizen."
Her presence was not known until after the fact and did not confer any of the Times prestige on the rally. She also told her then-editor, Howell Raines about the march. Washington editor Kate Phillips and national editor Jim Roberts say Kirkpatrick never told them about his special guest appearance at Hudson.
Hey, David Kirkpatrick, in light of all the controversy over Linda Greenhouse the abortion rally why would you possibly speak at an event held by a group you were supposed to be covering.
David Kirkpatrick: The what? What about Linda Greenhouse?
Evan Gahr: You don't know?
David Kirkpatrick: No
Evan Gahr: Linda Greenhouse spoke at an abortion rally as a private citizen and this created a whole stir about supposed conflict of interest.
David Kirkpatrick: "But that's different. That was like a rally."
That was like a rally?
You're a correspondent for the elite Washington bureau of the New York Times and you talk like a valley girl?
Oh, my God.
It was like a rally?
So it was a rally?
Or it wasn't?
Dont' sweat over that one, David. Your distinction is without a difference, according to New York Times policy reported during the Linda Greenhouse fracas.
"The integrity of the Times requires that its staff members avoid employment or any other undertakings, obligations, relationship or investments that create or appear to create a conflict of interest with their professional work for The Times or otherwise compromises the Times' independence and reputation."
To use an analogy from criminal law: Kirkpatrick's presence at the conference was a two count violation of Times policy. He shouldn't have been there and if he was there he should have at least functioned as a newsman and used the rare opportunity of unfettered access to Richard Perle to barrage him with questions.
Instead, he served the Prince of Darkness sunny side up.
MR. KIRKPATRICK .... you can find a whole spectrum of opinions about Bush administration foreign policy, about the project of bringing democracy to the Middle East, and you can divide them up as small as you like. You can say there are the Richard Perle conservatives, there are the Bill Kristol conservatives,
No, DAVID, you can say it but many others would find Richard Perle and Bill Kristol without significant distinctions.
Just who before you has ever made this kind of distinction?
The only appreciable difference here is which WMD they lied about.
And the false distinction you posited imputes far more ideological conservatives to neo-cons than actually exists. Just what significant difference exists between Perle and Kristol other than which WMDs they lied about?
MR. KIRKPATRICK: I will say just based on my own personal experience, when I write about these topics [neo-cons and foreigh policy divisions on the right] I'm often reminded of something that the novelist Nicholas Baker wrote. He said stomach is to abdomen as to girlfriend is to lover, that the first term is bad, but the alternate is worse.
That's deep man, deep.
The most unintentionally comic moment came when Kirkpatrick let go unchallenged the claim from Lawrence "the girl" Kaplan said even though there were no liberals on the panel that was fine and dandy because Richard Perle debates them often so he could convey their perspective.
This drew no objection from Kirkpatrick, even though the prospect of entrusting Richard Perle to fairly encapsulate a liberal perspective on Iraq is much like making Roman Polanski the high school guidance counselor.
David Kirkpatrick says he has no problem speaking at other Hudson events.
National editor Jim Roberts (firstname.lastname@example.org), who by the way has quite an attitude for the guy who helped shepherd Jayson's biggest whopper into print over the express objections of the Washington bureau, says other reporters have spoken at events held by groups they are entrusted to cover.
The only one Roberts could name, however, was Peter Steinfels.
He is a columnist, not a reporter.
Roberts and Kirkpatrick are so knee deep in elephant dung they can't even smell their own stink.
Who at the Times is going to hose them down?
Rick Bragg was fired for less.