Hugh Hewitt has a terrific post on Los Angeles Times editor Dean Baquet’s defense today of his paper’s decision to make public–and thus put the kibosh on–a highly successful secret government program of monitoring the foreign bank transactions that fund terrorist activities.
Hugh compares Baquet’s self-serving column in his paper to Hugh’s own interview with LAT bureau chief Doyle McManus yesterday and wonders: Wouldn’t it be a good idea if Baquet and McManus checked in with each other now and then so as to get their story straight?
“The decision to publish this article was not one we took lightly. We considered very seriously the government’s assertion that these disclosures could cause difficulties for counterterrorism programs. And we weighed that assertion against the fact that there is an intense and ongoing public debate about whether surveillance programs like these pose a serious threat to civil liberties.”
“And as a matter of fact, when we made our decision to publish our story, the New York Times had already published its story. So as a matter of fact, we had not had the set of discussions that we had scheduled on precisely how to balance that. So in a sense, I can’t tell you how we balanced it, because we ended up not coming to a final decision. Now I don’t mean to be disingenuous. We were certainly leaning in the direction of publishing, but we hadn’t finally decided to.”
In other words, the NYT went with the story, so we did, too.
“We sometimes withhold information when we believe that reporting it would threaten a life. In this case, we believed, based on our talks with many people in the government and on our own reporting, that the information on the Treasury Department’s program did not pose that threat.”
“HH: Is it possible, in your view, Doyle McManus, that the story will in fact help terrorists elude capture?
“DM: It is conceivable, yeah….”
In other words–who cares?
“[T]he reactions of Americans across the country is one of disgust. The media elite crossed a line, and its indifference to the threat of terrorism defined it in a way that a thousand columns will not undo.”
Read The Other Charlotte’s post just below to see exactly how disgusted some Americans are.