The New York Times is Selective with Its 'Secrets'

If only they had decided the story was not worth printing before they decided to run with it.

Michelle Malkin writes in her syndicated column that the New York Times has decided the "secret" it exposed was not so secret after all. All that fuss over a story that, it turns out, everbody already knew.

When is a "secret" not a secret? When The New York Times decides, in the interest of saving its old gray hide, that it is not.

On June 22, the paper trumpeted its expose of "a secret Bush administration program" to track terror finances. The banking program, reporters Eric Lichtblau and James Risen made unmistakably clear, was a "closely held secret." The front-page story referred to the secret nature of the program no less than eight times. A Times-produced Web video featuring Lichtblau promoted a brief interview in which he "reveal(ed) a secret Bush administration program to access financial records."

But by July 2, smarting from the public backlash against its blabbermouth coverage, the Times crew was backpedaling faster than circus monkeys on barrels hurtling over Niagara Falls. Suddenly, the "secret" was no secret at all.

Everybody who's anybody has known about the secret program all along, silly. New York Times ombudsman Byron Calame's belated defense of the Times' expose of the monitoring of the SWIFT banking program contained this revealing passage:

"There was a significant question as to how secret the (monitoring of the SWIFT banking program) was after five years. 'Hundreds, if not thousands, of people know about this,' (Executive Editor Bill) Keller claimed he was told by an official who talked to him on condition of anonymity."

"Hundreds, if not thousands, of people" have known about the program before the Times blabbed about it. Well, there's a scoop. So, why wasn't this reported in the original story and reflected in the original, front-page headline?