Had To

He had no choice:

Michael Lewis, the best-selling author of “Moneyball” and “The Big Short,” was granted extraordinary access toPresident Obama for hislatest article in Vanity Fair.

But with that access came one major condition.

Like other journalists who write about Washington and presidential politics, Mr. Lewis said that he had to submit to the widespread butrarely disclosed practice of quote approval.

During a discussion atLincoln Center on Monday night withGraydon Carter, the editor of Vanity Fair, Mr. Lewis volunteered to the audience that as a condition of cooperating with his story, the White House insisted on signing off on the quotes that would appear.

Look, I love Lewis, I loved Moneyball, but he did not actually have to do this. He could have said fuck you. He would have lost the story, and that would have been the deal, but my problem here isn’t what he did or didn’t do to get what he did or didn’t get.

It’s the Times using terminology that implies that this is just the cost of doing business these days and whaddyagonna do? These things are decisions that are made, not inevitabilities.


3 thoughts on “Had To

  1. He could have lost the story, then gone public with it. “Quote approval is now a requirement for any significant access to the president. Take any such profiles with a grain of salt.”
    Any journalist who took a bite after that would look desperate or sycophantic. No shortage of such creatures, but it would identify them right out of the box.

  2. I’m with Dan that he could have made the story that he was offered time with Obama but only with quote approval. And how this is increasingly becoming the norm on both sides of the aisle.
    I have a questions though, first did he have to have every quote approved as opposed the the practice of the journalist verifying their information? I see a big difference between the administration offering additional information if a quote is foggy versus an administration trying to back track after making a stupid quote versus censoring the article and banning quotes. I’ve worked with reporters on science articles where the reporter asked me if the information came across correctly.
    I’m not a journalist, but I would hope that generally accepted journalisms ethics would address this (Unfortunately, I believe in Santa too.)

  3. he .. could have gone public with it
    In what venue? His editor’s not gonna print that.

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