BBC Radio host Zeinab Badawi confronted New York Times journalist Maggie Haberman about whether she had put "profits before principles" by withholding information for her new book.
During an interview on Sunday, Badawi questioned Haberman about why she had not reported information about former President Donald Trump following the Jan. 6 attacks in "Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America." According to the book, Trump said that he would refuse to leave the White House.
"This was new information, wasn't it?" Badawi noted. "And we have ongoing investigations. The U.S. House of Representatives [and] Justice Department investigations into his refusal to cede power after the election. Why did you not make this revelation available sooner?"
"When I learn of information and it's confirmed and reportable, my goal is always to get it into publication as quickly as possible," Haberman said. "I wanted to paint a fuller picture and it's a process of going back and revisiting scenes and interviewing sources and that often reveals new information."
Badawi pressed Haberman on the subject.
"But you have received criticisms for not making this information available," the BBC host pointed out, "before the publication of your book."
"I mean, were you putting profits before principles?" Badawi wondered.
"As I said, books take time," Haberman replied, sounding annoyed. "I turned to this project in earnest after the second impeachment trial, after Trump had left the White House and it was a process of learning new information."
"And you don't feel any regret?" Badawi asked.
"I understand what they're saying," Haberman said of her critics. "I stand by what I just said about the process of writing a book."
The BBC host observed that there were "calls on social media now for people not to buy your book as a kind of protest."
"I think people are entitled to their views and they will make assumptions about when information is learned and how," Haberman protested. "And you know, they are perfectly entitled to do that."
"It goes to the heart of what we expect from journalists," Badawi said. "As a journalist, rather than the author of a book, what do you think your duty is to the public?"
"The book is part of journalism," Haberman remarked. "The book is a work of journalism."
In her defense, Haberman argued that "people are willing to say things for history in books that they sometimes are not and to reveal information that they are not for the daily report."
"And so I hope that people will understand that, and if they don't, I completely get that too," she added. "You know, books are part of journalism."
Listen to the audio clip below from BBC Radio or at the link:.