This was evidently not a time to exercise restraint. They were on deadline and breaking a big story that, Ryan notes, they went to extraordinary measures to keep secret from their “ferocious tabloid rivals.” The sources were trusted and they ran with it.
Ryan’s account ends oddly several hours later, with her team eating guacamole and one reporter being whisked off to talk about the scoop on a morning talk show. And that’s it.
While the account (available in PDF form here) mentions the phone call (“a conversation” with an “incarcerated man”) that figured prominently in that night’s big story, and was at the center of the next day’s follow-up, it says nothing about its now-disputed content, which, the Times’s reporting clearly suggested, indicated Diallo might be pursuing the case for financial benefit. The e-mailed account merely notes it as an example of Diallo’s ties to unsavory characters. It does not defend the reporting against the lawyer’s recent challenge or even acknowledge that a challenge has been made. This omission is striking, mostly because of the importance of the call’s content, but also because the e-mail, which promised to chronicle “the twisting case,” leaves out any discussion of this most recent and dramatic twist.
It’s expected, and for the best, that a story changes with deeper reporting. But when reporting is contested, as in the case with Diallo’s phone call, it warrants a fuller reckoning, particularly by the organization that has brought it to light. It is noteworthy that prosecutors were not willing to provide comment when the story was disputed.
Given the impact the Times’s scoop on the phone recording has had on the dynamics and public perception of the case—by suggesting that Diallo was profiteering—and the wild trajectory the Strauss-Kahn reporting has taken thus far, it’d be a lot easier to trust the original reporting on the phone call, if they gave readers—and not just subscribers—reason to.