Pay No Attention to the Columnist Behind the TimesSelect Curtain

A federal appeals court greenlighted former Army scientist Stephen Hatfill to proceed with his libel action against New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof yesterday. Kristof published a series of 2002 columns accusing the FBI of dragging its feet in investigating Hatfill as a full-blown suspect in the 2001 anthrax mailings that killed five people in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks. You know, it was also Kristof who was the first person who reported on Joe Wilson's charge that the Bush administration's Niger yellow-cake cause for invading Iraq was bogus, thereby setting in motion the inadvertent chain of events landing Judy Miller in jail between extended bouts in Scooter Libby's (merely metaphorical, we're sure) lap. We're not advancing an argument here, just noting an odd congruence. But we will note that if we were Times senior management, we'd closely heed Kristof's veiled appeal in today's Editor and Publisher piece on the TimesSelect fiasco:

I want to be read, and this makes it much harder. But that is tempered by a concern that we come up with a business model to pay for my trips to Africa.

Because we're pretty sure that "trips to Africa" is Kristof-speak for "someone's going to jail."

Oh and one other thing. Times attorneys should probably lay off this line of argument:

The dissenting judges also wrote that they believed the Times was only doing its job, emphasizing the public's right to know as more than a "matter of voyeurism, titillation, or idle curiosity."

. . . David McCraw, counsel for the Times, said the paper was disappointed the court declined to rehear the case and noted that the dissenting justices addressed important issues relating to free speech and defamation.

Yeah, uhm, you see, the thing is, it doesn't seem like those dissenting justices have been following the news all that closely. --

Appeals Court Allows Hatfill to Sue Times [AP, via WaPo]

TimesSelect Draws Mixed Reviews From Columnists [Editor and Publisher]


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