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Journalist Anthony Shadid, who was killed by a severe asthma attack while in Syria in February, apparently told his wife before making his final trip abroad that if anything happened to him he wanted his death to be blamed on the New York Times.
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Politico's Dylan Byers reports Ed Shadid, Anthony's cousin, revealed in a speech on Saturday night that Anthony argued with Times editors before his trip, and was worried about the state of his health:
"The phone call the night before he left [Turkey for Syria], there was screaming and slamming on the phone in discussions with editors," Ed Shadid, a cousin to the late reporter, said last night at the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee's convention in Washington, D.C.
"It was at this time that he called his wife and gave his last haunting directive that if anything happens to me I want the world to know the New York Times killed me," Ed Shadid said.
Shadid was speaking at an Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee convention in Washington, D.C. The organizers had no idea he was going to say something so controversial, but they told Politico they stood behind Shadid's argument that there needs to be a closer look at the standards for reporters entering warzones. The Times declined to comment.
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Update: The Times responded to Byers report. They claim Shadid was told the day of his trip that he shouldn't enter the country if he wasn't confident it was safe. Their full statement to Byers:
"Anthony's death was a tragedy, and we appreciate the enduring grief that his family feels," New York Times spokesperson Eileen Murphy told POLITICO. "With respect, we disagree with Ed Shadid's version of the facts. The Times does not pressure reporters to go into combat zones. Anthony was an experienced, motivated correspondent. He decided whether, how and when to enter Syria, and was told by his editors, including on the day of the trip, that he should not make the trip if he felt it was not advisable for any reason."