“The documents appear to have been acquired illegally and contain all manner of private information and statements that were never intended for the public eye, so they won’t be posted here.” Andrew Revkin, Environment Editor, New York Times Nov 20, 2009.
“The articles published today and in coming days are based on thousands of United States embassy cables, the daily reports from the field intended for the eyes of senior policy makers in Washington. The New York Times and a number of publications in Europe were given access to the material several weeks ago and agreed to begin publication of articles based on the cables online on Sunday. The Times believes that the documents serve an important public interest, illuminating the goals, successes, compromises and frustrations of American diplomacy in a way that other accounts cannot match.” New York Times editorial 29/11/2010
Interested readers may want to compare and contrast Revkin’s statement of principle with the editorial note posted by the Times on the WikiLeaks documents this afternoon. Today the Times cites the availability of the documents elsewhere and the public interest in their revelations as supporting their publication by the Times. Both factors applied in roughly equal measure to the Climategate emails.
Without belaboring the point, let us note simply that the two statements are logically irreconcilable. Perhaps something other than principle and logic were at work then, or are at work now.
Actually no, Scott, I think it’s important that we should “belabor” the point by remembering a few more occasions where the New York Times has been happy to sacrifice principle in order to get across the “correct” political message:
1. In 2007, “Pravda” gave the radical anti-war group MoveOn.org a $77,508 discount to run a full page ad attacking the then US commander in Iraq General Petraeus as “General Betray Us.”
2. In the 1930s “Pravda” earned its nickname thanks to the heroic efforts of its Soviet correspondent Walter Duranty who hymned the glorious achievements of Stalin and denied the existence of the Ukraine famine.
3. In 2005, “Pravda” heroically exposed efforts by the evil fascist Bush regime to impose wiretaps on suspected Al Qaeda terrorists thereby seriously and unfairly jeopardising the ability of oppressed victims of Islamophobia to express their frustration with the Western Judao-Christian capitalist hegemony through such traditional protest methods as suicide bombs.
4. In 2006 it struck a similarly powerful blow against white racism by continuing to pursue the case of the Duke lacrosse players who had supposedly raped a poor black woman, regardless of overwhelming evidence that the boys were entirely innocent. A Times internal investigation concluded that “most flaws flowed from journalistic lapses rather than ideological bias.”
Ideological bias? At the New York Times? Perish the thought.
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