By Christopher B. Daly
Mark Thompson is wrapping up his first week as the new president and chief executive of the New York Times Company. That role puts him in a critical position in U.S. journalism, and he has little margin for error in leading the
country’s most important news-gathering organization through dangerous and economically challenging times. We all need him to succeed.
It is beginning to appear that the Times Company’s principal owner and publisher of the flagship newspaper, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., may have picked the wrong person for the job. The reason for that has to do with Thompson’s last job, as an executive with the BBC. The British broadcasting empire, a tower of journalistic probity, is going through its own scandal.
To its credit, the Times is pursuing the question of what Thompson knew and when he knew it — apparently without much fear or favor. This is as it should be. My concern is that, fairly or unfairly, Thompson may be so damaged by his BBC baggage that he has to go.
Tentatively, I would say Thompson either knew of serious wrongdoing at the BBC and did nothing, or else he did not know and should have. Either way, he is compromised.