New York Times Defends Health Care Blogger

The New York Times has responded to the NYTPicker blog’s concerns over the stock portfolio of its health care blogger, Princeton professor Uwe Reinhardt — both with a written statement and with a request that NYTPicker identify him or herself.

On Sunday, NYTPicker accused Reinhardt of a breach of Times ethics rules for earning “more than 500,000 a year from posts with various private health-care companies, and hold[ing] stock worth more than $5 million.”

Here is the Times‘ statement, published on NYTPicker:

Professor Reinhardt is a leading expert on the economics of health care, and has provided valuable and independent insights in his blog posts. He has mentioned his service on corporate boards in the blog, but we are reviewing how to more fully describe his activities for readers of Economix.

The NYTPicker says it “read all 85 of Reinhardt’s blog posts, and found only a single vague mention of his board memberships.”

Now, NYTPicker is apparently losing access to the Times in the wake of its reporting on Reinhardt. Robert Christie, the new public relations head at the Times, has given the ‘Picker the cold shoulder: “It is the policy of The New York Times not to respond to bloggers or journalists who refuse to identify themselves and/or their affiliation.”

Christie, who joined the paper in March, asked more than once for the NYTPicker to identify him or herself, says the Picker. NYTPicker says that previous Times communications regimes — and editors and reporters — had been far more cooperative, and didn’t demand the blogger’s identity. Looks like Christie’s willing to play slightly rougher with the Times‘ Blogspot-domained pebble in the shoe.