In a June 23 appearance before the annual convention of the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee, the Ward 2 council member said Anthony Shadid’s former employer, The New York Times, is partly to blame for the war correspondent’s death earlier this year.
Ed Shadid told the Washington, D.C., audience that Anthony Shadid had a heated conversation with his Times editors in the wake of several logistical failures while trying to enter Syria to cover that country’s uprising.
Anthony Shadid died in Syria on Feb. 16, reportedly due to an asthma attack triggered by close proximity to horses.
In his comments, Ed Shadid spoke of the need to ensure the safety of journalists serving in war-torn countries and the need of news organizations to do everything in their power to be aware of and screen foreign correspondents for symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Ed Shadid, a physician, said he believed his cousin might have died of a heart attack, and asked the ADC to work to help push news outlets to ensure the safety of war correspondents.
While most of his remarks were similar to what he has said in the past, the councilman also recounted a phone conversation Anthony Shadid had with his wife amid problems with the Times getting him and a photographer smuggled into Syria.
The phone call from Anthony Shadid in Turkey to his editors involved screaming and slamming down the phone, according to Ed Shadid.
“It was at that time he called his wife and gave her this last haunting directive that ‘if anything happens to me, I want the world to know that The New York Times killed me,’” Shadid told the group.
Ed Shadid told Oklahoma Gazette he had known about that phone call for months, but did not reveal it in previous public appearances involving his late cousin. He declined to say why he chose the ADC speech to recount the conversation.
The New York Times issued a statement to Politico, one of the national news organizations covering the issue.
“Anthony’s death was a tragedy, and we appreciate the enduring grief that his family feels,” Times spokeswoman 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.”
Anthony Shadid’s widow, Nada Bakri, issued a statement via Twitter, saying she was not going to address the issue.
“I do not approve of and will not be a part of any public discussion of Anthony’s passing,” she wrote. “It does nothing but sadden Anthony’s children to have to endure repeated public discussion of the circumstances of their father’s death.”