New York Times fends off criticism after publishing Putin op-ed

By Agence France-Presse
Thursday, September 12, 2013 13:25 EDT
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Russian President Vladimir Putin via AFP
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President Vladimir Putin won’t be getting a check from The New York Times as a “freelance journalist” but his controversial article on Syria was accepted for its newsworthy viewpoint.

The newspaper’s public editor Margaret Sullivan said Thursday that the Russian leader’s editorial, submitted via a US public relations firm, created “a major stir, including plenty of criticism.”

The Times agreed to publish the “op-ed” essay on Wednesday within a few hours of its being offered, Sullivan said on her blog.

Sullivan, citing Times editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal, said the US daily seldom accepts articles from heads of state because they have their own methods for getting their views aired.

But this was different, because “everyone wants to hear from Putin right now” and this article was “fascinating and detailed,” Rosenthal was quoted as saying.

Sullivan said the newspaper received a number of critical comments from readers, including one said to be “horrified” that The Times was “aiding and abetting a long-term foe of the United States.”

The public editor said The Times editorial department was approached Wednesday by the public relations firm that represents Putin, and that the president’s spokesman also called the newspaper’s Moscow bureau to propose the article.

In the article, Putin warned that a military strike without the approval of the United Nations Security Council, where Moscow wields a veto, would destroy the credibility of the world body.

He also said it “would increase violence and unleash a new wave of terrorism,” and undermine multilateral efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“It could throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance,” he wrote.

Rosenthal indicated that there is “no ideological litmus test” for an op-ed article, and that the purpose is not to help or hurt the American government but to provide “interesting and newsworthy points of view,” Sullivan wrote.

The Times staff indicated it was impossible to know whether Putin penned the article himself, but the newspaper received a good translation in English that needed almost no editing.

Sullivan said that although some writers are compensated for such articles, in this case “Mr. Putin will not be paid.”

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
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