When asked what the biggest misconception is about the bureau, he says, “that it is a mean place to work, that there are rivalries and backstabbing. That is just dead wrong.” He adds that, “that has been true for years as a misconception of the New York Times. It is a very demanding place to work, as it should be.”
Not since the days of Watergate and the Pentagon Papers has the Washington office gone through a rollercoaster ride of investigative stories, internal difficulties and competitive pressures like those of recent years. Even Executive Editor Bill Keller, in a memo to staff last week, referred to the bureau’s “toxic storms.” From the Plame affair, and its involvement of embattled former reporter Judith Miller, to the murder of popular bureau reporter David Rosenbaum to direct attacks by the Bush Administration, Taubman’s tenure has been anything but calm.
“That was part of the challenge when I came down here,” Taubman, 58, said about the post-Blair atmosphere and the other brewing issues at the time. “One of the first things that was necessary was to regain equilibrium. The distraction of the Blair affair had preoccupied the bureau and we had to focus on the job of covering Washington. To move on beyond the traumas of the Blair affair. That is something that a bureau chief would not normally have to do.”
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