When you’re the executive editor of The New York Times, people want your take on everything from the Times to the latest media blunders. There are no bigger media f*ck ups lately than the debacle at The New Republic and Rolling Stone’s embarrassingly bad reporting on its UVA rape story.
WWD asked Dean Baquet — the Times’ top editor — for his take on both.
I have to say, it sounded ham-handed the way the guy handled it. I wish I knew more. I think when all of your writers leave, you’ve done something really bad. I think [Chris] Hughes [the owner] went in and portrayed himself as the person who would protect what The New Republic was. This is the part that I don’t really know what was said, but every publication has got to change right now. We just do. That doesn’t mean you’ve got to change the kind of journalism you do. I don’t think The New Republic should try to be something that it’s not, nor should The New York Times, nor should The New Yorker.
On Rolling Stone:
A story of that enormity, whether it is written by a freelancer or not, we would hold to an incredibly high standard. If we did that story, I would have insisted that we talked to the accused. I just would have insisted on that. That’s sort of like rule number one in journalism: You go to the accused. That’s a gimme. It may turn out that this woman’s account is true. The numbers show that most women who assert they were assaulted are telling the truth. The percentage is overwhelming.