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Warm Baths v. Hot Seats: Bill Keller’s and Eric Lichtblau’s “Modified, Limited Hang-out.”

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The New York Times’  Allessandra Stanley labels an interview President and Mrs. Bush conducted with Larry King a “warm bath, not a hot seat,” and sniffs that Larry’s program is for “those with something to sell and those with something to hide.”

I wonder how Bill Keller’s duck-and-cover of the past two weeks strikes her  –Keller has spent a few minutes with Wolf Blitzer, took batting practice with Bob Schieffer, and penned a column with Dean Baquet (which editors of the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post  refused to sign on to.)

There are many interesting questions Mr. Keller or reporter Eric Lichtblau could answer:

Since Lichtblau couldn’t uncover Swift while reporting on the tracking of terrorist finances in November of 2005, why are he and Keller so sure all the terrorists knew about it?

Who initiatied the Keller-Baquet self defense op-ed that the innocent editors wisely rejected participation in?

How many subscriptions were canceled in June ’06 v. June ’05?  How many were canceled in July ’05, and how many have been canceled thus far in July ’06.


In a story on the refusal of the Journal’s Paul Steiger and the Post’s Leonard Downie Jr. to provide cover for their “conceivably” terrorist-assisting colleagues (“conceivable” is how the Los Angeles Times’ Doyle McManus assessed the risk of the papers’ stories in assisting terrorists to elude capture) , Editor & Publisher  reported:  “Keller and Baquet did not return several calls seeking comment. “

Instead of answering questions and critics, Mr. Keller issues sweeping statements of “non-neutrality” in the war, and has his op-ed legions rush out Richard Clarke, followed by Frank Rich and Paul Krugman in a display of loyalty must bring a tear to any editor’s eye.  Why answer critics when such intellects gather round him?

Mr. Keller wouldn’t risk Larry King, much less Brit Hume or any serious, informed though respectful media critic.

Ms. Stanley, would you ask Mr. Lichtblau or Mr. Keller to return my calls, or those of my producer, or just e-mail me at  The audience on the radio program and is quite large, and the questions calm and respectful.

It is the answers, I think, that Keller is afraid to provide.


Some questions for corporate law types, perhaps Professor Bainbridge if he is about? 

What constitutes a “material event requiring disclosure” in the setting of a newspaper the stock of the parent company of which is publicly traded? 

Would a sharp drop in subscriptions be such an event?  And at what level would that drop be significant?

A 1%  drop over a month?  Less? 

And if such a drop occured, would management have to inform shareholders, or at least refrain from trading in the stock? 

Would advertisers who had purchased space based upon an agreed upon circulation have a right to be informed of a drop in paid circulation via subscription?

Could you direct us to analogous cases where the failure to disclose a material event led to penalties for the management?


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