NYT Defends Partial Walkback of Editorial's Original Blanket Condemnation of Obama; How Will They Handle Edward Snowden?

Sometime late Thursday afternoon, an editorial at the New York Times bitterly criticizing President Obama for the expansion of surveillance efforts during his administration contained this sentence: "The administration has lost all credibility." Within a few hours, as seen here, that sentence was changed to "The administration has lost all credibility on this issue," and set off in a separate paragraph.

The Times is pretending that it didn't do what it obviously did:


NY Times Denies Softening Scathing Editorial on Obama White House

The New York Times denied on Friday that it had softened its scathing editorial blasting the Obama administration for collecting the telephone records of millions of Verizon customers.

In the editorial, first published late Thursday afternoon, the Times said the White House had “now lost all credibility” after reports that the National Security Agency had been gathering phone records of millions of U.S. customers of Verizon under a top-secret court order issued in April.

But by 9 p.m., the sentence had been changed to say, “The administration has now lost all credibility on this issue,” a much softer tone than previously published.

“We thought it was obvious that we were talking about the administration’s credibility on this particular issue — secrecy and surveillance,” Andrew Rosenthal, the editorial page editor, told the Times’ “Public Editor’s Journal” blog on Friday. “But it soon became obvious that some well-meaning people were not understanding that, so we thought that we should clarify it.

“We think issue by issue,” he added. “We didn’t intend a blanket condemnation.”

Then you shouldn't have written and publised it as a blanket condemnation, guys.

As I told a commenter on Friday:

They had all the time in the world to debate the editorial's words. The time to make revisions to a newspaper editorial -- not a blog post, an editorial -- ended when they hit the "Enter" key.

Now with the admission by 29 year-old Edward Snowden that he is the person who has leaked information on the U.S. government vastly expanded surveillance programs to the UK Guardian, the Times faces a new quandary. Will it treat Snowden as a hero on the level of Daniel Ellsberg, who is said to be calling him a hero ("said he's been waiting for him for 40 years"), or turn on him because he's exposing a far-left administration in arguably far more serious circumstances?

Stay tuned.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.