06/06/2014 09:08 am ET Updated Jun 09, 2014

New York Times Editor Admits That Missing Snowden Scoop Was 'Painful'


New York Times editor Dean Baquet recently said that Edward Snowden's revelations last year have made him re-think national security reporting and the media's relationship with the government.

Speaking to NPR's David Folkenflik last month, Baquet said that losing the groundbreaking NSA scoop to the Guardian and the Washington Post was "really painful."

"There is nothing harder than, if you are the New York Times, getting beat on a big national security story — and to get beat by your biggest overseas competitor and your biggest national competitor, at the same time. It was just painful," he said.

Snowden was skeptical of the Times because the newspaper had held back another story about NSA wiretapping by James Risen and Eric Lichtblau before eventually publishing it in December 2005. He approached the Guardian and the Washington Post instead, and both newspapers went on to share the Pulitzer Prize for public service for their reporting.

The Times faced criticism over its coverage of the revelations, and Baquet — who just became the Times' executive editor last month — has himself been accused of killing an NSA story during his tenure as editor of the Los Angeles Times. He said in his interview with Folkenflik that he is now "much, much, much more skeptical of the government's entreaties not to publish" than before.

Glenn Greenwald, who broke the NSA story for the Guardian, responded to Baquet's remarks in a post on Friday, calling them "encouraging."

"Dean Baquet’s epiphany about the US Government and the American media... is long-overdue, but better late than never," he wrote. "Let us hope that it signals an actual change in behavior." Visit the Intercept for more.