NYT Waters Down Editorial on NSA Call Data Collection, Limits Criticism of Obama Admin's Credibility to 'This Issue'
By Tom Blumer | June 07, 2013 | 10:06
Yesterday, the editorial board at the New York Times published an editorial harshly criticizing President Obama and his administration for continuing to collect the phone records of millions of Verizon customers. Presumably, the board obtained word-for-word consensus before hitting the "Enter" key on this crucial sentence in the editorial's second paragraph: "The Obama administration has lost all credibility."
Mere hours after its initial publication, Jamie Weinstein at the Daily Caller notes, the editorial ("President Obama's Dragnet") was revised. Yours truly has the graphic grabs of the most crucial changes after the jump.
What follows is a side-by-side comparison. On the left is the editorial's second paragraph as it appeared early Thursday evening Eastern Time; the revision as it appeared at the paper's web site at 6:45 a.m. ET is on the right:
Instead of the administration having "lost all credibility," the Times has now limited the damage to "this issue" and moved that revised assertion into a separate paragraph. Excuse the cynicism, but perhaps that new paragraph break was added so that the paper's Obama administration minders could locate the revised text more quickly.
A more minor revision changes "the 9/11 attacks" to "the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks" -- the extra comma is there in error, perhaps an indication there was a rush for the Times to do as it was told.
The Daily Caller's Weinstein also reported the following:
NewsDiffs also showed that several other modifications had been made to the editorial, but none as significant as its change to the originally broad condemnation of the Obama administration.
Maybe that was true later Thursday night (the DC's time stamp is 8:52 p.m.), but when I looked at the editorial this morning, it had this entirely new paragraph (links are in original):
Articles in The Washington Post and The Guardian described a process by which the N.S.A. is also able to capture Internet communications directly from the servers of nine leading American companies. The articles raised questions about whether the N.S.A. separated foreign communications from domestic ones.
Other revisions to the editorial are indeed minor. Additionally, what Weinstein wrote last night was still true as of 7:30 this morning: "The new version of the article contains no indication that it has been changed."
The editorial does contain the following text after its conclusion: "A version of this editorial appeared in print on June 7, 2013, on page A26 of the New York edition with the headline: President Obama’s Dragnet." The obvious question is: Which version?
Clearly, the Times editorial board originally felt that President Obama and his administration's hypocrisy in secretly continuing the NSA's data collection efforts and its dishonest, defensive responses were so egregious that they had affected their credibility on other matters. If they didn't they wouldn't have published the editorial as it originally appeared. Such a contention makes common sense; if someone seriously lies and dissembles on one important matter, why should they have any presumptive credibility on others?
Something caused the Times to add "on this issue" to the subject sentence a short time later. Excuse me for believing that the only open question is: Which Obama administration official pressured the Times into making that revision?
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.