The New York Times adds Michael Lewis to the list of journalists having to let politicians approve quotes before he could run them.
We wrote earlier this summer when the New York Times detailed a quote approval practice it said Bloomberg, the Washington Post, Reuters, the Times itself and other news outlets permitted. Under the practice, before publishing articles, journalists have let political campaigns give the final OK on quotes, and in some cases, censoring remarks. Once the practice was highlighted, the Los Angeles Times and New York Times both said they’re “reviewing” the practice, and the Associated Press, Reuters and McClatchy Newspapers announced they don’t allow it. The Washington Post also said it was going to “tighten” its policy on “sharing a story draft with a source.”
According to a Sept. 11 report, Lewis said “as a condition of cooperating with his story, the White House insisted on signing off on the quotes that would appear” in his Sept. 5 Vanity Fair article “Barack Obama to Michael Lewis on a Presidential Loss of Freedom: ‘You Don’t Get Used to It—At Least, I Don’t.‘”
Lewis claimed, according to the Times, that “the White House disallowed very little of what he asked to use,” which was mostly “of little relevance to his article anyway.”
Lewis’ reporting included “over an eight-month period…multiple interviews with the president” and accompanying the president on some trips, also said that “about 95 percent of what he witnessed was on the record.”
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According to the Huffington Post, White House spokesperson Jay Carney “declined to comment specifically on Lewis’ statements on ground rules, simply telling The Huffington Post that ‘we negotiate access with reporters all the time.'”
The New York Times’ public editor Margaret Sullivan reported this week that the newspaper “has been actively considering” a policy for quote approval.
We’ve written to Vanity Fair seeking more information and will update with any response.
Hat Tip: Michael Calderone