Bill Keller

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Bill Keller
Bill keller at nyc.jpg
Keller in March 2006
Born (1949-01-18) January 18, 1949 (age 65)
Occupation Journalist
Known for The New York Times
Spouse(s) (first marriage, divorce)[1]
Dan Gilbey (m. 1999)[1]

Bill Keller (born January 18, 1949) is an American journalist. He is a writer for The New York Times, where he was executive editor from July 2003 until September 2011. He announced on June 2, 2011, that he would step down from the position to become a full-time writer. Jill Abramson replaced him as executive editor.[2]

Keller worked in the Times Moscow bureau from 1986 to 1991, eventually as bureau chief, spanning the final years of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. For his reporting during 1988 he won a Pulitzer Prize.[3]

Early life[edit]

Keller is the son of former chairman and chief executive of the Chevron Corporation, George M. Keller.[1] He attended the Roman Catholic schools St. Matthews and Junípero Serra High School in San Mateo, California, and graduated in 1970 from Pomona College,[4] where he began his journalistic career as a reporter for a campus newspaper called The Collegian (later called The Collage).[citation needed] From July 1970 to March 1979, he was a reporter in Portland with The Oregonian, followed by stints with the Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report and the Dallas Times Herald. He is married to Emma Gilbey Keller and has three children.[5]

The New York Times[edit]

Keller joined The New York Times in April 1984,[6] and served in the following capacities:[5]

  • Reporter in the Washington, D.C. bureau (1984–1986)
  • Reporter in the Moscow bureau (1986–1988)
  • Bureau chief in the Moscow bureau (1988–1991)
  • Bureau chief in the Johannesburg bureau (1992–1995)
  • Foreign editor (1995–1997)
  • Managing editor (1997–2001)
  • Op-ed columnist and senior writer (2001–2003)
  • Executive editor (July 2003 to September 2011)

He won the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting citing his "resourceful and detailed coverage of events in the U.S.S.R." during 1988.[3] That is, in the Soviet Union during the year it established its Congress of People's Deputies, the last year before the revolutions of 1989 in Central and Eastern Europe.


2003 Invasion of Iraq[edit]

Keller was a leading supporter of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, explaining his backing for military action in his article 'The I-Can't-Believe-I'm-A-Hawk Club'.[7] Two days after the invasion, Keller wrote the column 'Why Colin Powell Should Go'[8] arguing for US Secretary of State's resignation because his strategy of diplomacy at the UN had failed. In contrast, Keller was much more sympathetic to Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, describing him as the 'Sunshine Warrior'.[9]

Judith Miller[edit]

Keller spoke on July 6, 2005 in defense of Judith Miller and her refusal to give up documents relating to the Valerie Plame case.

NSA Terrorist Surveillance Program[edit]

Keller is reported to have refused to answer questions from The Times public editor, Byron Calame, on the timing of the December 16, 2005 article on the classified National Security Agency (NSA) Terrorist Surveillance Program. Keller's delay of reporting about NSA overreach until after Bush's close reelection was controversial.[10] The Times series of articles on this topic won a Pulitzer Prize. The source of the disclosure of this NSA program has been investigated by the United States Justice Department. The NSA program itself is being reviewed by the Senate Judiciary Committee as to whether it sidesteps the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and after The Times articles, the Administration changed its procedures, allowing for more safeguards and more Congressional and judicial oversight.

Keller discussed the deliberations behind the Times' decision to publish the story in a July 5, 2006 PBS interview with Jeffrey Brown that included a discussion of the issues involved with former National Security Agency Director Admiral Bobby Ray Inman.[11]

Catholic Church sex abuse crisis[edit]

Keller widely reported on the Catholic sex abuse cases and flatly put the blame on John Paul II himself : "The uncomfortable and largely unspoken truth is that the current turmoil in the Roman Catholic Church is not just a sad footnote to the life of a beloved figure. This is a crisis of the pope's making."[12]

SWIFT[edit]

Keller and The Times also published a story on another classified program to monitor terrorist-related financial transactions through the Brussels, Belgium-based Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) on June 23, 2006. Many commentators,[13] as well as some elected officials such as U.S. Congressman Peter T. King,[14] called for the U.S. Justice Department to prosecute The New York Times and the confidential sources who leaked the existence of this counter-terrorism program despite relevant statutes that forbid revealing classified information that could threaten national security, especially in a time of war.

In an attempt to respond to criticism stemming from the disclosure of the classified Terrorist Finance Tracking Program, the NSA program's official name, Keller stated in a published letter[15] that President Bush himself had acknowledged as early as September 2001 that efforts were underway "to identify and investigate the financial infrastructure of the international terrorist networks" and "to follow the money as a trail to the terrorists." In an Op-ed column in The Times, Keller, together with Los Angeles Times editor Dean Baquet wrote that "Our job, especially in times like these, is to bring our readers information that will enable them to judge how well their elected leaders are fighting on their behalf and at what price." Keller's critics, including U.S. Treasury Secretary John W. Snow, responded to Keller's letter by pointing out that there is a vast difference between stating general intentions to track terrorist finances and the exact means employed to achieve those goals. But, as Keller wrote, this was the same Secretary Snow who invited a group of reporters to a 6-day trip on a military aircraft "to show off the department's efforts to track terrorist financing."

Nelson Mandela[edit]

Keller wrote a 128-page juvenile biography of Nelson Mandela published by Kingfisher Books in 2008, Tree Shaker: the story of Nelson Mandela.[16]He had served as the Times bureau chief in Johannesburg from April 1992 to May 1995[5]—spanning the end of apartheid in South Africa and election of Mandela's African National Congress as the governing party in 1994.

Keller's wife since 1999, Emma Gilbey, wrote a full biography of Winnie Mandela published in 1993, The Lady: The Life and Times of Winnie Mandela (Jonathan Cape).[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "WEDDINGS; Emma Gilbey and Bill Keller". The New York Times. April 11, 1999. 
  2. ^ Peters, Jeremy W. (June 2, 2011). "Abramson to Replace Keller as The Times's Executive Editor". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 3 June 2011. Retrieved June 2, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b "International Reporting". The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved 2013-11-01.
  4. ^ Jacques Steinberg, "Bill Keller, Columnist, Is Selected As The Times's Executive Editor," New York Times, July 15, 2003, p. A1
  5. ^ a b c "Columnist Biography: Bill Keller". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-11-02. Coverage evidently ends before 2003.
  6. ^ "Times Appoints Managing Editor and 2 Deputies," New York Times, May 23, 1997, p. C31
  7. ^ Keller, Bill (February 8, 2003). "The I-Can't-Believe-I'm-a-Hawk Club". The New York Times. 
  8. ^ Keller, Bill (March 22, 2003). "Why Colin Powell Should Go". The New York Times. 
  9. ^ Keller, Bill (September 22, 2002). "The Sunshine Warrior". The New York Times. 
  10. ^ Hagan, Joe (September 18, 2006). "The United States of America vs. Bill Keller". New York. 
  11. ^ Online NewsHour: Debate | Newspaper Criticized for Leaks | July 5, 2006 | PBS
  12. ^ NYT article
  13. ^ The Media’s War Against the War Continues - Andrew C. McCarthy - National Review Online
  14. ^ Fiore, Faye (2006-06-26). "Congressman Wants N.Y. Times Prosecuted". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 22 May 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-22. 
  15. ^ "Letter From Bill Keller on The Times's Banking Records Report". The New York Times. 2006-06-25. Retrieved 2011-04-22. 
  16. ^ "Tree shaker: the story of Nelson Mandela". Library of Congress Catalog Record. Retrieved 2013-11-02.

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