Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The New York Times and election year politics

The chum that is being thrown out this cycle is just so uninspiring. It goes without saying that I often disagree with the editorial stands of The New York Times, but the Republicans' recent charge of treason over the newspaper's disclosure of a secret government program to monitor international finances is simply absurd. Why? Because if info about a convert program was leaked to the public, it was leaked by an administration official—the administration official caused the leak to happen, and he bears the burden of responsibility for any negative fallout—not the The New York Times. Furthermore, the existence of a monitor program was common knowledge; according to the AP, it had been alluded to in a UN report as early as 2002.

So why then is the The New York Times the focus of all this high and mighty criticism while the source of the government leak is hardly an afterthought? That’s easy to answer—attacking The New York Times appeals to the Republican base during an election cycle and steers attention away from the government’s own failure to police its ranks.

What bothers me is that we’ve seen this before. Remember the Martha Stewart case and the charge of insider trading? The “inside information” she was investigated for acting upon was the Food and Drug Administrations’ refusal to grant approval for the product of a pharmaceutical company. That information was leaked by a government official, but he certainly didn’t pay for his leak; it was only Martha Stewart and the pharmaceutical company’s CEO, Sam Waksal who were sentenced to jail.

Will that be the story with The New York Times? It remains to be seen, but if I were them, I would start circling the wagons. When this administration wants to draw blood in order to score political points, it is utterly ruthless.

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