Sunday, August 13, 2006

NYTimes Cat Out Of The Bag: They Withheld Information For Bush's Political Benefit

Remember that flap over whether the New York Times voluntarily held its story about the NSA wiretapping case before the 2004 election? It looks like they did just that. (The evidence is damning enough that we can say case closed.) Even executive editor Bill Keller, who seemed like a boringly center-right kind of guy rather than someone who would actively shill for a lying president, takes it squarely on the chin.
It has now been confirmed by the New York Times Executive Editor, Bill Keller himself, that they had the story for weeks before the 2004 election and even had a draft for possible publication a week before election day. Not only that, he confirms that he was the one making the final decision to repeatedly kill the story.


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.
NYTimes ombudsman Byron Calame has this to say:

The article, written by James Risen and Eric Lichtblau, has been honored with a Pulitzer and other journalistic prizes. But contradictory post-publication comments by Times editors and others about just how long the article was held have left me increasingly concerned about one key question: Did The Times mislead readers by stating that any delay in publication came after the Nov. 2, 2004, presidential election?


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. This revelation confirms what anonymous sources had told other publications such as The Los Angeles Times and The New York Observer in December.


A number of readers critical of the Bush administration have remained particularly suspicious of the article's assertion that the publication delay dated back only "a year" to Dec. 16, 2004. They contend that pre-election disclosure of the National Security Agency's warrantless eavesdropping could have changed the outcome of the election.


It was more than inelegant, however, to report flatly that the delay had lasted "a year." Characterizing it as "more than a year," as Mr. Keller and others later did, would have been technically accurate. But that phrase would have represented a fuzziness that Times readers shouldn't have to put up with when a hotly contested presidential election is involved.

Given the importance of this otherwise outstanding article on warrantless eavesdropping -- and now the confirmation of pre-election decisions to delay publication -- The Times owes it to readers to set the official record straight.


Blogger nolo said...

Lapp, you're on fire. Excellent posts.

10:48 PM  

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