Paranoia At The NYTimes

In an unintentionally revealing piece regarding the NYTimes' relationship with Wikileaks, NYTimes editor Bill Keller demonstrates his arrogance and obliviousness. While Keller implies that Julian Assange is an unbalanced paranoid because "Assange was openly contemptuous of the American government and certain that he was a hunted man[,]" Keller writes:

From consultations with our lawyers, we were confident that reporting on the secret documents could be done within the law, but we speculated about what the government or some other government might do to impede our work or exact recriminations.

(Emphasis supplied.) Paranoid much Keller? OF course, Keller's fears were not unreasonable. Nor were Assange's fears. Even paranoids have enemies.

What is most striking to me about Keller's article is the condescending superiority he demonstrates. For a newspaper who had a pretty lousy decade, Keller sure has a high opinion of himself and his newspaper. His contempt for Assange and Wikileaks is not hidden. Keller refers to the Times as part of the "establishment media" without irony and with pride. It sums up the viewpoint of the article and of Keller and the NYTimes in this area. Quite revealing.

Speaking for me only

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    Well, maybe Keller's just trying to (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Anne on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 11:00:03 AM EST
    elbow Wikileaks out of the way so the NYT can hog all the whistleblowers...

    The New York Times is considering options to create an in-house submission system that could make it easier for would-be leakers to provide large files to the paper.

    Executive editor Bill Keller told The Cutline that he couldn't go into details, "especially since nothing is nailed down." But when asked if he could envision a system like Al Jazeera's  Transparency Unit, Keller said the paper has been "looking at something along those lines."

    "A small group from computer-assisted reporting and interactive news, with advice from the investigative unit and the legal department, has been discussing options for creating a kind of EZ Pass lane for leakers," Keller said.

    And it makes me wonder if the government wouldn't actually prefer to have the NYT as the main go-to place for leakers, given its already cozy relationship with the Times.

    And while such an endeavor ought to put an end to the demonization of Wikileaks and Assange, I'm guessing that all that will happen is that the NYT will assert that what the Times would be doing is practicing actual journalism, and doing so in a responsible manner...

    I'm quite sure (none / 0) (#1)
    by NYShooter on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 09:55:33 AM EST
     his interpretation of the "establishment media" is somewhat different than yours.


    Fitz (none / 0) (#2)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 10:00:41 AM EST
    did put whatshername is jail for not revealing her sources, right?

    but Keller is a tool.

    Government Vets NYTimes material before they publi (none / 0) (#3)
    by Dan the Man on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 10:19:00 AM EST
    sh it.  Keller has already admitted this on air

    KELLER: The charge the administration has made is directed at WikiLeaks: they've very carefully refrained from criticizing the press for the way we've handled this material. ... We've redacted them to remove the names of confidential informants ... and remove other material at the recommendation of the U.S. Government we were convinced could harm National Security ...

    HOST (incredulously): Just to be clear, Bill Keller, are you saying that you sort of go to the Government in advance and say: "What about this, that and the other, is it all right to do this and all right to do that," and you get clearance, then?

    KELLER: We are serially taking all of the cables we intend to post on our website to the administration, asking for their advice.

    Wrong again. This is the part (none / 0) (#4)
    by oculus on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 10:28:25 AM EST
    I thought BTD would seize upon:

    Long before WikiLeaks was born, the Internet transformed the landscape of journalism, creating a wide-open and global market with easier access to audiences and sources, a quicker metabolism, a new infrastructure for sharing and vetting information and a diminished respect for notions of privacy and secrecy.

    you disagree (none / 0) (#5)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 10:29:49 AM EST
    with this?

    No. Oh, and I thought (none / 0) (#6)
    by oculus on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 10:39:56 AM EST
    Keller's piece was fascinating.  

    agree (none / 0) (#8)
    by CST on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 11:21:54 AM EST
    it was a little "holier than thou" but it was also fascinating insight into how this all played out.  Interesting line here:

    "Foreign governments cooperate with us, he pointed out, not because they necessarily love us, not because they trust us to keep their secrets, but because they need us."

    When speaking about the lack of concern on the diplomatic cable leak.  

    Also, interesting to hear about the different responses by the different administrations.  Which honestly, makes sense, as the wikileaks were so broad that even if the United States was included in that brush, they were just a piece of the story, and not strictly negative.  Where-as in the previous case with the Bush administration, the whole story was about their illegal surveilance actions.  There was nothing for them to hide behind (pun intended).


    The Times (none / 0) (#9)
    by lentinel on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 04:07:29 PM EST
    reported or at least summarized most of what Assange had provided.

    I expect that they sold quite a few newspapers.

    Now they are evidently feeling some heat from people they are afraid of. Our government, I presume. So they are joining the bandwagon to pillory Assange, the messenger, rather than confront reality.

    I lost whatever shreds of respect I had for the Times when they joined the feverish and journalistically irresponsible rush to the immoral and unnecessary war in Iraq.

    They stand for nothing.

    And as for paranoia?
    Ever since the 1960's, when just about everyone who confronted the government was assassinated, people have been looking over their shoulders. With good reason.

    I don't know about that (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by CST on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 04:18:34 PM EST
    At least... that's certainly not the implication that the article gives.

    "they are evidently feeling some heat from people they are afraid of. Our government, I presume"

    It actually discusses that the government was relatively sanguine about this leak.  And as for Assange, the writer clearly dislikes/has a lot of contept for him, but it's pretty clearly a personal dislike not a political "pilloring".  For example, on e passage from the article:

    "it is chilling to contemplate the possible government prosecution of WikiLeaks for making secrets public, let alone the passage of new laws to punish the dissemination of classified information, as some have advocated. Taking legal recourse against a government official who violates his trust by divulging secrets he is sworn to protect is one thing. But criminalizing the publication of such secrets by someone who has no official obligation seems to me to run up against the First Amendment and the best traditions of this country."

    In any event, I would encourage everyone to actually read the article.  It's a little condescending, but it's also pretty interesting/informative.


    I see what you're saying... (none / 0) (#11)
    by lentinel on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 06:28:17 PM EST
    but what I feel about it is that the government's first public reaction was to say that it endangered the lives of our soldiers. H. Clinton also went out on a limb. They depicted Assange as a menace to our security.

    Washington pols were calling Assange a "traitor". (?!). We all know that the punishment for treason is death.

    So the conservative counter-attack was to ignore the revelations, and concentrate on Assange.

    It has been my feeling that that is what has happened and why the Times is going along with it.

    The Times' sentence that you quote I take to mean not so much a defense of Assange or the rights of journalists in general, but an attempt to cover their own posteriors.


    Keller distinguishes Assange/Wikileaks (none / 0) (#12)
    by oculus on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 06:51:32 PM EST
    and the press.  In Keller's opinion, the former should be protected, although maybe not Manning, the suspected actual illegal obtainer of the information.