John on July 1, 2006 at 1:30 pm
Senior editors at the two Times (LA and NY) have jointly published a new explanation of their latest expose. Once again there is a definite sense of self importance:
We agree, however, on some basics about the immense responsibility the press has been given by the inventors of the country.
I remember something about “freedom” in the first amendment, I don’t recall any specific responsibilities being handed out. The piece continues in this tone, ending on this grand note:
[H]onorable people may disagree with any of these choices â€” to publish or not to publish. But making those decisions is the responsibility that falls to editors, a corollary to the great gift of our independence. It is not a responsibility we take lightly. And it is not one we can surrender to the government.
Again, I don’t recall “Editor” being a job description layed out by the founders, especially not one with veto power over the actual branches of government mentioned in the constitution.
And yet, the maddening thing is, their delusions of grandeur aside, Keller and Baquet are right on the underlying issue. We do want a free press, radically free even. That’s in the American spirit. It’s why we have so many good blogs. And God knows if Hillary! becomes President, I want someone leaking whose FBI files she’s got on her night stand (even if it’s an attentions starved Bill doing the leaking).
What doesn’t square for me is the publication of the banking story. They can repeat the mantra about what an excruciating decision that was all they want, but the whole thing still smells like Pulitzer bait to me. Furthermore, their insistence that the outlines of the program were already public completely undercuts the idea that this was about the public’s right to know, which was their first attempt at a reason for publishing. Sorry, but the public already knew in every way it needed to. They knew it was being done. Giving out details of the program crosses a line into interfering with proven, legal and successful anti-terror efforts.
But there is a silver lining to this cloud. Let’s take Keller and Baquet at their word. If the press is the fourth estate of the federal government, one able to veto the supplications of the other branches of government (as actually happened in this case) then they need to be treated like other American instituions. In a democracy, responsibility means accountability to the voters.
The congress won’t and in my judgment shouldn’t prosecute the two Times. As I’ve said, Keller and Baquet are right about free speech. But just because the government can’t or won’t doesn’t mean the people shouldn’t. American citizens who feel the twin Times have put their own interests ahead of the nation’s — which seems to be most of us in this latest case — should let them know using the only ballot available: cancel subscriptions and contact advertisers until both editors are reprimanded, demoted or
Bill. Dean. Welcome to government service.
Category: MSM & Bias |