Tony Snow Takes on The New York Times

White House press secretary Tony Snow was asked a number of questions during Monday’s press briefing regarding Friday’s revelations by The New York Times of a highly classified counterterrorism strategy involving a banking cooperative in Belgium called SWIFT (hat tip to Expose the Left with video link to follow). After one such question, Snow took the Times to task: “[I]f The New York Times decides that it is going to try to assume responsibility for determining which classified secrets remain classified and which don’t, it ought to accept some of the obligations of that responsibility; it ought to be able to take the heat, as well.”

He marvelously continued:

“Traditionally in this country in a time of war, members of the press have acknowledged that the Commander-in-Chief, in the exercise of his powers, sometimes has to do things secretly in order to protect the public. This is a highly unusual departure. It’s interesting, The Times, talking about this being a—this program having been a departure from previous banking efforts. This is also a departure from long-standing traditions here in the United States.”

And even more marvelously concluded: “The New York Times and other news organizations ought to think long and hard about whether a public’s right to know, in some cases, might override somebody’s right to live, and whether, in fact, the publications of these could place in jeopardy the safety of fellow Americans."

What follows is a full transcript of this exchange, along with a video link courtesy of Expose the Left. For those that are interested, more commentary and a detailed analysis of this subject can be found here.

 

Question: We’re told the Vice President is going to make similar comments at his appearance today. With the President and the Vice President, in essence, going after The New York Times today, are they trying to create a chilling effect on media outlets that might cover stories of this nature?

MR. SNOW: I don’t think so, no. No, I don’t think so. It’s a very good question. No, if The New York Times decides that it is going to try to assume responsibility for determining which classified secrets remain classified and which don’t, it ought to accept some of the obligations of that responsibility; it ought to be able to take the heat, as well. So the administration certainly is going to lay out its concerns and what it may mean for the safety of the American people and the integrity of the process of developing intelligence that can permit us to track down terrorists and prevent them from killing again.

That’s what this is all about. It’s about what we can do in a time of war. Traditionally in this country in a time of war, members of the press have acknowledged that the Commander-in-Chief, in the exercise of his powers, sometimes has to do things secretly in order to protect the public. This is a highly unusual departure. It’s interesting, The Times, talking about this being a—this program having been a departure from previous banking efforts. This is also a departure from long-standing traditions here in the United States.

So it is—it’s not designed to have a chilling effect. I think what it’s—if The New York Times wants a spirited debate about it, it’s got it. But, certainly, nobody is going to deny First Amendment rights. But The New York Times and other news organizations ought to think long and hard about whether a public’s right to know, in some cases, might override somebody’s right to live, and whether, in fact, the publications of these could place in jeopardy the safety of fellow Americans.

Video Link
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.