Although several media outlets were aware that Rohde was taken last November in Afghanistan while working on a book, most had agreed not to publish that information at the request of Rohde’s family and The New York Times.
Times Executive Editor Bill Keller, who recently returned from Iran, spoke about the difficulty of the decision.
“It was an agonizing decision that we revisited over and over again, but I also have a responsibility for the people who work for me,” Keller said on the Reliable Sources hour of CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Keller told Kurtz that as time went on, they reconsidered keeping the abduction a secret, but ultimately decided that “the wisest course for David’s safety was to keep it quiet.”
Remarkably enough, this wasn’t the first time that Rohde had been abducted. In 1995, he was kidnapped by Serb forces while reporting for the Christian Science Monitor from Bosnia. He was released after heavy interrogation ten days later.
Keller also spoke about the intense political climate in Iran while reporting from Tehran last week.
“In the days before the election, when the feeling was fairly euphoric and there was a sense that they might actually overthrow this regime, the fear went away for a while,“ Keller said. “But after the results were announced, the regime made clear that they wanted to enforce them, a lot of the fear came back.”
In response to criticism that the New York Times Executive Editor should be focusing on his own newsroom rather than traveling abroad, Keller insisted that the trip was a vital part of his job.
“I spent way more than I care to of my time thinking about the future and working on the future of the Times business model. But running a newspaper and a Web site is what I do. And to do that well, you have to get out and see what the story is.”