White House Pressed WaPo Not to Run Articles
Last week, Newsweek's Jonathan Alter revealed that the White House leaned on the New York Times not to run its article on warrantless surveillance by the National Security Agency. The Times sat on the story for a year. Alter says,
Weâre seeing clearly now that Bush thought 9/11 gave him license to act like a dictator, or in his own mind, no doubt, like Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War.
Howard Kurtz reports in today's Washington Post that White House officials, including John Negroponte and Porter Goss, met with Executive Publisher Leonard Downie and made a similar request over Dana Priest's article on secret CIA prisons. While Leonard Downie won't confirm the meetings, other sources do:
"When senior administration officials raised national security questions about details in Dana's story during her reporting, at their request we met with them on more than one occasion," Downie says. "The meetings were off the record for the purpose of discussing national security issues in her story." At least one of the meetings involved John Negroponte, the director of national intelligence, and CIA Director Porter Goss, the sources said.
As to the Times, which delayed publishing its article on warrantless monitoring for a year,
"The decision to hold the story last year was mine," Keller says. "The decision to run the story last week was mine. I'm comfortable with both decisions.
I'm not comfortable with the White House's requests. Had the request been made of a media outlet run by The News Corporation, the articles likely would never have seen the light of day. It seems like editors and Bush envoys are meeting in private and making decisions based on ....what? Are there standards involved? Who sets them? Who reviews the editors' decisions?
I'm not an investigative journalist, but if I were, I'd be wary of putting my heart and soul, let alone untold hours of digging, verifying and writing, into breaking a story when my editor could just say, "Sorry, that's too sensitive to print. We've been asked by the White House to sit on it. I've agreed to go with their decision."
It seems to me the Bush Administration is engaging in some highly questionable interference with the First Amendment.
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