Quick detour from the road trip! This morning the New York Times accidentally published what appears to be an IM conversation between an AP writer and editor regarding the breaking story of Roman Polanski’s arrest in Zurich, Switzerland.
It starts with “Ok, can you do some more probing?” and while it’s very tempting to make a Roman Polanski joke here, that would be incredibly tasteless, and I’m disappointed in you for even thinking about it, pervert. Which reminds me: it feels a little dirty to be posting this, but there’s nothing too damning in here, and it’s actually pretty fascinating.
The whole thing is basically an unusual behind-the-scenes look at the interaction between a writer and an editor — the logistics of viewing a surprise press conference on a Sunday, the fact that the New York office is eager to push the story forward, etc.
But the most interesting element to me is the speculation that the Swiss government acted now “because they’re under intense pressure over UBS and want to throw that U.S. a bone.” (That’s per “Sheila” — I’m guessing that’s Sheila Norman-Culp, the AP’s supervisor for Europe/Africa news.) UBS recently cut a deal with the government to turn over the names of 4,450 American clients who have avoided paying taxes by hiding their assets in those notorious offshore accounts. In the great Swiss tradition of claiming neutrality well past the point where things turn ugly, the Swiss government has now divested itself of its stake in UBS. Too little, too late? The US is expected to come after other banks, too, and the Swiss government is presumably under quite a bit of pressure. Perhaps handing over a world-famous sex offender would help relieve some of that pressure. This speculation isn’t in the AP story right now, but perhaps it will emerge after the reporter gets ahold of the justice department.
UPDATE: Here’s the official story.
UPDATE 2: The AP responded to my inquiry about 24 hours after I made it. Better late than never? Here’s their comment: “That internal message inadvertently became part of AP’s online news feed on Sunday as a result of human error and technical glitch.” Ok, then.