‘Were you putting profit before principle?’: Maggie Haberman accused of withholding information on Trump for her book

Maggie Haberman has been accused of withholding information concerning former President Donald Trump for her new book Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America.

Zeinab Badawi of BBC Radio asked the New York Times journalist if she had put “profits before principles”.

Speaking on Sunday, Ms Badawi asked Ms Haberman why she hadn’t reported information included in the book concerning Mr Trump’s refusal to accept his 2020 election loss.

She writes in the book that Mr Trump learned of his defeat, but said he would refuse to leave the White House.

“I’m just not going to leave, how can you leave when you won an election,” Mr Trump said, according to Ms Haberman.

“This was new information, wasn’t it?” the radio host said. “And we have ongoing investigations. The US House of Representatives, Justice Department investigations into his refusal to cede power after the election. Why did you not make this revelation available sooner?”

“When I learn of information and it’s confirmed and reportable, my goal is always to get it into publication as quickly as possible,” the journalist said. “I wanted to paint a fuller picture and it’s a process of going back and revisiting scenes and interviewing sources and that often reveals new information.”

“But you have received criticisms for not making this information available before the publication of your book,” Ms Badawi noted. “I mean, were you putting profits before principles?”

“As I said, books take time. I turned to this project in earnest after the second impeachment trial, after Trump had left the White House and it was a process of learning new information,” Ms Haberman retorted.

Ms Badawi pressed on, asking, “and you don’t feel any regret?”

Ms Haberman said she understands the point of view of her critics, but added that “I stand by what I just said about the process of writing a book”.

The radio host said there were “calls on social media now for people not to buy your book as a kind of protest”.

“I think people are entitled to their views and they will make assumptions about when information is learned and how,” the journalist said. “And you know, they are perfectly entitled to do that.”

“It goes to the heart of what we expect from journalists. As a journalist, rather than the author of a book, what do you think your duty is to the public?” Ms Badawi asked.

“The book is part of journalism,” Ms Haberman responded. “The book is a work of journalism.”

She went on to say that “people are willing to say things for history in books that they sometimes are not and to reveal information that they are not for the daily report”.

“And so I hope that people will understand that, and if they don’t, I completely get that too,” she said. “You know, books are part of journalism.”