So far, I have heard nothing from Eric Lipton of the New York Times in response to my inquiries. A number of readers have emailed Mr. Lipton to ask him to respond. This email was sent by Bill Otis:
Dear Mr. Lipton:
I am a former Special Counsel for President George H. W. Bush and was a federal prosecutor under both political parties; for the moment, I am an adjunct professor of law at Georgetown Law Center. I am also a follower of the conservative blog Powerline, and am writing to ask, with all respect, that you respond to John Hinderaker’s question about the thoughts you attributed to Tim Phillips.
You did not purport to quote Mr. Phillips, but said in your piece that Phillips had told you that, even before Gov. Walker was sworn in last month, “executives from [a] Koch-backed group had worked behind the scenes to try to encourage a union showdown.”
If that statement were Mr. Phillips’ own words, presumably you would have put them in quotation marks, as you did with other things that you reported Mr. Phillips as having said to you. But oddly, or so it seems to me, they were not in quotation marks, and Mr. Phillips denies having said that or anything like that.
This Wisconsin stand-off is quite important, as the Times has correctly reported, and I think it would serve the interests of sound journalism if you were to clear up exactly what Mr. Phillips said, as Mr. Hinderaker has requested.
I confess that I am not in any sense a constituent of the Times and, beyond that, may well be the least consequential person you will hear from today. Nonethless, and mindful of the weak position from which I launch this request, I hope you will consider it, as I think it warranted on the merits.
If you would like to ask Mr. Lipton to respond to our request for information about his interview with Tim Phillips–in particular, as to what evidence he has regarding what Phillips specifically said to support the claim that Bill Otis quoted–you can go here and click where it says “Send an email to Eric Lipton.” If you do email Mr. Lipton, please be polite. Also, please send us a copy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
UPDATE: I heard from Lipton at the end of the day, but haven’t had time to write it up. Check back in the morning.
FURTHER UPDATE: Please go here for Lipton’s response.