Thursday, July 06, 2006

Told you so: the New York Times reliving its glory days

About ten days ago I wrote this post, in which I speculated about the motivation of the NY Times in publishing its recent national security revelations. My answer to the question of what the Times editors were really trying to do by their actions was that they were hoping to relive the paper's own "top of the world, Ma!" days, the heady era of their victory in the Pentagon Papers lawsuit of 1971, when the Supreme Court ruled in their favor.

And now I'm only more certain that I may have been onto something. Why? This piece by LA Times editor Baquet and NY Times editor Keller, appearing in the July 1 NY Times, appears to say as much. They refer to the Pentagon Papers case prominently and early in the article, a clear indication to me that the case represents some sort of inspiration for them.

The piece reads as though we are meant to feel sorry for the editors and the terrible anxiety they experienced when making what they refer to as "excruciating choices" in whether or not to cover these stories. Poor dears; sounds dreadful.

Their article is entitled "When Do We Publish a Secret?" and their answer (which could be paraphrased as "whenever we feel like it"), is expressed this way:

There is no magic formula, no neat metric for either the public's interest or the dangers of publishing sensitive information. We make our best judgment...It is not a responsibility we take lightly. And it is not one we can surrender to the government.

Isn't that reassuring? It's awfully good to know that the unelected editors of the MSM are the final arbiters of which secrets to publish, and when, and that they don't even seem to have guidelines about it, or feel the need to respect the wishes of the experts in national security who advise them on the matter. After all, that's "the government," and we all know better than to trust them right? They never have our best interests at heart and, after all, what do they know? Far better to trust Baquet and Keller, our national security gatekeepers.

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