Editor defends Times storyAnd no less an old Republican war horse than William Safire had this to say on Meet The Press in defense of his long-time employer, The New York Times:
July 3, 2006
Published reports that the United States was monitoring international banking transactions were not news to the terrorists who were its target because the Bush administration had already "talked openly" about the effort, The New York Times' top editor said yesterday.
In defending his paper's decision to reveal details of the program, executive editor Bill Keller told an interviewer on CBS's "Face the Nation" that such operations are important to an informed public.
Look, I don’t speak for the Times. I’ve been in the Times for 30 years disagreeing with Times editorial policy right down the line. On this one, I think they did the right thing. Here we are on Independence Day weekend, 230 years ago, celebrating what was the resistance to a king who said “We’re going to hang you for treason.” And here we have a Long Island congressman, happens to be named King, who’s saying “treason” and “put these reporters in jail.” I think there’s a big fundamental thing going on here now, and across the board, of “get the press, get the media.” And, look, I used to write speeches for Spiro Agnew, I’m hip to this stuff, and, and I can say that it gives you a blip, it gives you a chance to get on the offensive against the, the darned media. But in the long view of history, it’s a big mistake.[....]Now, they don't come more conservative than William Safire, who at least keeps in the back of his mind that this nation was founded on laws and on laws the future of this nation rests, not on people and certainly not on contravening those laws, however artfully or even brashly.
Let me respond to what Bill, to the point he’s making, that who elected the media to determine what should be secret and what should not? And the answer to that is, the founding fathers did. They came up with this Bill of Rights beyond which the constitutional convention would not move unless there were a First Amendment to challenge the government, just as the American founding fathers challenged the British government. Now it’s not treasonable, it’s not even wrong for the press to say we’re going to find out what we can and we’ll act as a check and balance on the government. Sometimes we’ll make mistakes. Sometimes the government will mistake.
Courageous treasons, such as publishing the name and address of a Times' photographer by some moron on the right are not doing the country any good, especially when all she did was take pictures of a place that's already in the public domain.
The right, frustrated and beliigerent, has ramped up the bellicosity of their insanities. We on the left, instead of being cowed, should be standing up for those institutions that draw the ire of these brownshirted rabble-rousers, so long as they've earned that protection, which I believe a free press has, with some exceptions (notably Fox news, which has made its own bed and will eventually sleep in it.) And the publisher of the Times shouldn't have waited even a full day before making his vigourous defense of his paper and our freedom.
That this ire is coming ahead of an election cycle where the entire conservative philosophy will be not just rebuked but repudiated, is no surprise to me. They got "lucky" in 2004, manipulating the electorate by hook and by crook (literally banning people from voting for simply having been convicted for felonies at some point in the distant past.) This time around, not only does the Emperor have no clothes, but the little man behind the curtain ran out of quarters for his "smoke and mirrors" machine.
It is fitting that, on this July 4 weekend, a Constitutional issue should dominate much of the political news. 230 years ago, our fathers and mother brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal (see that Revolt? ALL, not just rich white landowning men, the way you'd like it to be).
For now, again, we are engaged in a great civil dispute, North against South, West against East, for the very soul of our country. The Southernification of the United States must stop and we must move forward to the destiny that Fate holds for our country: to lead the world by example, not by cudgel.