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Re: Revealing

3:52 PM, Mar 11, 2009 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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Hayes writes below on Times editor Doug Jehl's explanation for ignoring the Freeman controversy until after the appointment had been withdrawn. It's a lousy explanation, but Calderone gets an even more ridiculous answer from Dean Baquet, the Times Washington bureau chief:

The bureau chief argued that Freeman wasn't a "high enough appointment to go nuts over in a big way," and offered up a challenge: "Go Google his predecessor and see how much coverage he got."

They didn't need to "go nuts" over it -- they just needed to cover it. But I took up Baquet on his challenge and googled Thomas Fingar -- the last guy who held this post and who gave us the 2007 NIE declaring Iran had ceased its weapons program. The Times covered the announcement of Fingar's appointment on May 7, 2005, the day after it was announced:

John D. Negroponte, the new director of national intelligence, has provided the first concrete signs of his plans for reinventing American intelligence operations, naming four senior lieutenants to fill newly created posts....

Three of the appointees will be deputy directors. They are Patrick F. Kennedy, a former United States ambassador to the United Nations for management and reform, who will oversee management; Mary Margaret Graham, a 27-year veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency's clandestine service and most recently chief of its counterintelligence operations, who will oversee collection; and Thomas Fingar, the current head of the State Department's intelligence branch, who will oversee analysis and also become chairman of the National Intelligence Council.

When Freeman's appointment was announced, there was no coverage in the Times. There was no coverage in the Times until the appointment was scuttled. Perhaps the editors at the Times just think this administration's appointments require less scrutiny and coverage than was necessary for its predecessor.