Editor's Notes at EditorsNotes.com

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Robert Novak Offers Editorial Advice

Robert Novak agrees with us, that unsubstantiated rumors probably shouldn't receive front-page, above-the-fold placement in the New York Times:

NOVAK: Of course, this is a ridiculous rumor. [...] For "The New York Times" to run this kind of a story -- this is a tabloid story, a rumor that there's no basis for, and put it on page one, that just shows that -- the dregs that "The Times" has gone to.


NOVAK [to HUNT]: Would you have run that? You're an executive at "The Wall Street Journal." Would you have run that story in "The Journal"? Yes or no!

HUNT: I think you run a story pointing out that there is great speculation on...

NOVAK: Would you have run that story?

HUNT: Well, wait a minute. Do I get a chance to answer? Mr. Prosecutor?


NOVAK: You didn't answer it.


HUNT: I did. I will.


NOVAK: I'd still like to get an answer from...


HUNT: Bob! Bob! Bob! We're going to turn up the hearing aide...

NOVAK: Would you run that story? Yes or no?

HUNT: No, Mr. Prosecutor, stop for a second. You got an answer. I already said in the beginning, apparently you couldn't hear -- I already said I thought it was a perfectly legitimate story.

NOVAK: You would have run it?

HUNT: I might have run it differently, but I would have run the story. Yes, Bob. You know something? If you had ever been an editor, you would have, either, but I'm not sure you ever were an editor.

To review, New York Times editors, if you're ever in a quandary about whether an item is "fit to print," you can always seek the guidance of Robert Novak, the columnist who exposed the identity of an undercover CIA operative for no apparent journalistic purpose.

(You can always call us, too.)