January 8th, 2008
Bhutto’s Death Puts Newsrooms in Bind
By Adrian Uribarri
If you read your Sunday paper, you might have noticed the posthumous interview with Benazir Bhutto that that ran in Parade. The magazine’s publisher, Randy Siegel, said it went to press before the former Pakistani prime minister was killed, too late to avoid a litany of editor’s notes.
Fair enough. But what if a piece of news came too early for publication? That’s the dilemma Bhutto posed to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.
On Oct. 26, Bhutto spokesman Mark Siegel sent Blitzer an e-mail from Bhutto on the condition that it would not be published unless Bhutto was assassinated. Blitzer, who revealed the message hours after her death, said he agreed not to publish the material before he received the e-mail.
A key point in Bhutto’s letter was that if anything happened to her, she would hold Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf responsible. (An excerpt from her note, in which she uses the letter U to address Blitzer, gives her writing an informal air.)
In defending his actions, Blitzer noted that Bhutto previously wrote about her security concerns for CNN.com. “I didn’t really think that it was a story we were missing out on,” he said. “I don’t think the viewers were done any disservice by my trying to hold on to this.”