Wednesday, December 21, 2005


Well, is it any wonder that I stopped taking The New Republic some time ago? Jason Zengerle from The Plank:
After all, liberal bloggers have been heaping almost as much scorn on the New York Times as they have the Bush administration. Atrios is calling for Keller and Sulzberger to resign over their handling of the NSA story. The folks over at DailyKos are demanding a fuller explanation of the Times's internal decision-making.


First of all, is it really the Times's duty to reveal in its pages that Bush summoned its editor and publisher to the Oval Office to try to talk them out of running the [NSA] story? In its original article, the paper reported that the "White House asked The New York Times not to publish this article, arguing that it could jeopardize continuing investigations and alert would-be terrorists that they might be under scrutiny." Why does the paper have to go into more detail than that? Indeed, why does the paper have to go into any more detail than it already has about the decisions it made regarding the NSA story--beyond saying that the White House asked the paper not to publish the piece, the paper delayed publication for a year, and, after concluding that the administration's concerns were unwarranted, it finally went ahead with publication?
Well Jason. That's all swell and good. But it's when newspapers forget their jobs and take an over-inflated view of themselves that they get in trouble.

Tell me. What is the first job of a newspaper? That's right Jason, (said very very slowly) to inform the public, to act as a fourth estate in our system of governance.

When is it ok to not fulfill that prime directive? Almost never. It better be a damned good reason, and you should be held accountable when you don't do your primary job properly ..... again.

The publishing of the story, despite Bush's appeals, is proof that a re-evaluation of their earlier judgement yielded a change of mind. Why publish now if it was such a nifty decision?

And what about resignations for this past poor judgement? This isn't like Keller took a cab from a little old lady. This was a decision by the "paper of record" in the United States, to assist the President of the United States, and then current candidate for President of the United States, to violate the Constitution and to break criminal law.

And none of this happens in a vaccum. The New York Times has given up it's right to the benefit of the doubt a long time ago. With it's numerous, continuing, and ongoing screw ups, it seems to me to be completely appropriate for the blogosphere (and NYTimes readers btw) to be asking for an examination into the ethics of the paper and to be demanding a new management.


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