All the News That’s Not Fit to Print

Michael Roston asks an intriguing question: did the NYT refuse to print Shenon’s story about Rove’s back-channel communications with Philip Zelikow?

While some questions have been raised about the accuracy of Shenon’s report, there’s another matter that we need to address: why didn’t Shenon’s story run in the New York Times itself? Why was it saved for his book instead of run above the fold in America’s paper of record?

The Commission’s report came out in the Summer of 2004, and you’d have to think that some of this story about executive director Philip Zelikow’s dilution of the report would have been in Shenon’s hands sooner. It’s hard to imagine that he wouldn’t tell his Times’ editors about this. White House interference in such an esteemed commission, trying to make sense of the 9/11 attacks and their aftermath as it did, would be a story of the year in whatever year it emerged. So why 2008 instead of 2004 or 2005 or 2006? Did it really take so long for any of the disenchanted commission staff to be willing to come forward?

Now, Shenon has been off the 9/11 Commission beat for some time, publishing only one story on it since 2004. So maybe there’s a very simple answer. But as Roston reminds us, as I’ve posted before, and as Shenon himself reminds us in the other big NYT story of the week, the NYT has a history of leaving some of its reporters’ best scoops off the pages of the Gray Lady. In his story reporting that James Risen has been subpoenaed for the source for a chapter in his book, State of War, Shenon reveals that the chapter in question is one not included in the stuff the NYT printed.

Mr. Risen’s lawyer, David N. Kelley, who was the United States attorney in Manhattan early in the Bush administration, said in an interview that the subpoena sought the source of information for a specific chapter of the book “State of War.”

The chapter asserted that the C.I.A. had unsuccessfully tried, beginning in the Clinton administration, to infiltrate Iran’s nuclear program. None of the material in that chapter appeared in The New York Times. Read more