Here’s Why The New York Times Published Details On The Trump-Ukraine Whistleblower

Executive editor Dean Baquet is defending the decision amid criticism from readers and the whistleblower’s lawyers.

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New York Times
New York Times

Amid backlash from readers and the individual’s lawyer, the paper’s executive editor, Dean Baquet, said in a statement on Thursday that information about the person ― a CIA officer who was detailed to the White House ― and his assignment are crucial, especially given efforts by Trump and other Republicans to smear him.

“We decided to publish limited information about the whistle-blower ― including the fact that he works for a nonpolitical agency and that his complaint is based on an intimate knowledge and understanding of the White House ― because we wanted to provide information to readers that allows them to make their own judgments about whether or not he is credible,” Baquet said.

The Times revealed that the whistleblower is now back at the CIA, and that the person appeared to be an analyst by training with deep understanding of American foreign policy and Ukrainian politics.

Baquet argued that details about the whistleblower are important in weighing the unfolding events.

“The president and some of his supporters have attacked the credibility of the whistle-blower, who has presented information that has touched off a landmark impeachment proceeding,” the editor said.

President Donald Trump speaks at a multilateral meeting on Venezuela at the InterContinental New York Barclay hotel during the United Nations General Assembly, Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019, in New York.
President Donald Trump speaks at a multilateral meeting on Venezuela at the InterContinental New York Barclay hotel during the United Nations General Assembly, Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019, in New York.

The Times noted that “many readers, including some who work in national security and intelligence,” disagreed with publishing the whistleblower story, with some “saying it potentially put the person’s life in danger and may have a chilling effect on would-be whistle-blowers.”

The whistleblower’s lead counsel, Andrew Bakaj, warned that the newspaper’s article was “deeply concerning and reckless, as it can place the individual in harm’s way.”

“The whistle-blower has a right to anonymity,” Bakaj added.

Last week, before the release of a redacted version of the whistleblower’s complaint and a White House summary of Trump’s July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Trump dismissed the complaint as “just another political hack job.”

On Thursday, following the release of the complaint, Trump ripped into the whistleblower and his sources in the White House, darkly talking of “spies and treason” and of punishment for such offenses “in the old days when we were smart.” 

Trump isn’t done. He kicked off his Friday with a fresh barrage of tweets decrying the whistleblower’s complaint as “so inaccurate” and patting himself of the back for a “very legal and very good” call with the Ukrainian president.

House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said earlier this week that the whistleblower wants to speak with his committee and talks are underway to set a date. 

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