Sunday, August 13, 2006

Busted: The NYTimes Withheld the NSA Eavesdropping Story on the "Eve" of the 2004 election

We knew it was bad. We knew it was illegal. And we knew the NY Times withheld the story for at least a year. Today, the NY Times reveals the true extent of its complicity in the coverup. Here's the Times' Public Editor, Byron Calame:
THE NEW YORK TIMES’S Dec. 16 article that disclosed the Bush administration’s warrantless eavesdropping has led to an important public debate about the once-secret program. And the decision to write about the program in the face of White House pressure deserved even more praise than I gave it in a January column, which focused on the paper’s inadequate explanation of why it had “delayed publication for a year.”
[...] Did The Times mislead readers by stating that any delay in publication came after the Nov. 2, 2004, presidential election?
In my January column, in which I refused to rely on anonymous sources, I noted that I was left “puzzled” by the election question.
But I have now learned from Bill Keller, the executive editor, that The Times delayed publication of drafts of the eavesdropping article before the 2004 election.
[...] Since the Times article appeared, I have grown increasingly intrigued by changes in the way the delay has been described in the paper and in comments by Mr. Keller. A background paragraph in a follow-up article on Dec. 31 said, “The administration first learned that The New York Times had obtained information about the secret eavesdropping program more than a year ago.” Mr. Keller also began using the “more than a year” language.
[...] Mr. Keller, who wouldn’t answer any questions for my January column, recently agreed to an interview about the delay, although he saw it as “old business.” But he had some new things to say about the delay and the election.
Internal discussions about drafts of the article had been “dragging on for weeks” before the Nov. 2 election, Mr. Keller acknowledged. That process had included talks with the Bush administration.
He said a fresh draft was the subject of internal deliberations “less than a week” before the election.
“The climactic discussion about whether to publish was right on the eve of the election,” Mr. Keller said.
Yes, you read that right: "right on the eve of the election." So why withhold the damning article? The Bush administration assured the Times that the eavesdropping program was good 'n' legal. Seriously:
Mr. Keller declined to explain in detail his pre-election decision to hold the article, citing obligations to preserve the confidentiality of sources. He has repeatedly indicated that a major reason for the publication delays was the administration’s claim that everyone involved was satisfied with the program’s legality. Later, he has said, it became clear that questions about the program’s legality “loomed larger within the government than we had previously understood.”
So why did the Dec. 16 article say The Times had “delayed publication for a year,” specifically ruling out the possibility that the story had been held prior to the Nov. 2 election? “It was probably inelegant wording,” Mr. Keller said, who added later,
“I don’t know what was in my head at the time.”
What?! This is what passes for an explanation? "I don't know what was in my head at the time"?

"Ooops! Brain fart!"

Or, better yet: "Distinguished colleagues, I regret to inform you that the old Gray Lady has been declared unfit to publish today. She's having what is known as a 'senior's moment.'"

H/T to


Blogger Mike said...

My goodness, have they no courage. This is EXACTLY the kind of information voters need right before an say the transcripts of fraud trial or the work of judicial commission.

Just shows what kind of cowards the US media have become towards the Bush fascist. And now Harper is trying it here.

8/13/2006 2:29 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

Unbelievable... Let's hope the fifth estate holds up better in Canada.

8/13/2006 9:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So much for the 'liberal media' myth.

If it wasn't already dispelled on the lead up to the Iraq war.

8/13/2006 10:41 PM  
Blogger Godammitkitty said...

Hey there, Robert! Great to meet you at the BBQ :)

Thanks for stopping by!

8/14/2006 12:15 AM  
Blogger Godammitkitty said...

Good comments all!

Further on this topic of the NYTimes, I keep meaning to read that book, "Now they Tell Us" by Michael Massing. He wrote an article by the same name in the NY Review of Books, back in 2004. It's behind a subscription wall now, unfortunately, but you can read/hear him speak with Amy Goodman over at DemocracyNow.

8/14/2006 12:20 AM  

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