Salon: NYT’s “journalistic obedience”

Tuesday’s New York Times featured a Page One piece about CIA operative Raymond Davis, who allegedly shot and killed two Pakistanis last month, thereby exacerbating the uneasy alliance between Pakistan and the U.S.

Problem is, according to, the Times sat on the story for the past month, as the paper acknowledged in its belated report:

The New York Times had agreed to temporarily withhold information about Mr. Davis’s ties to the agency at the request of the Obama administration, which argued that disclosure of his specific job would put his life at risk. Several foreign news organizations have disclosed some aspects of Mr. Davis’s work with the C.I.A.

And that has the folks at Salon all lathered up:

It’s one thing for a newspaper to withhold information because they believe its disclosure would endanger lives.  But here, the U.S. Government has spent weeks making public statements that were misleading in the extreme — Obama’s calling Davis “our diplomat in Pakistan” — while the NYT deliberately concealed facts undermining those government claims because government officials told them to do so.  That’s called being an active enabler of government propaganda.

The Salon piece then echoes what the hardworking staff noted last month:

Following the dictates of the U.S. Government for what they can and cannot publish is, of course, anything but new for the New York Times.  In his lengthy recent article on WikiLeaks and Julian AssangeNYT Executive Editor Bill Keller tried to show how independent his newspaper is by boasting that they published their story of the Bush NSA program even though he has “vivid memories of sitting in the Oval Office as President George W. Bush tried to persuade [him] and the paper’s publisher to withhold the eavesdropping story”; Keller neglected to mention that the paper learned about the illegal program in mid-2004, but followed Bush’s orders to conceal it from the public for over a year — until after Bush was safely re-elected.

New slogan for the Times:

All the news that’s fit to print (says the White House).

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5 Responses to Salon: NYT’s “journalistic obedience”

  1. Curmudgeon says:

    It will be interesting to see how Public Editor Brisbane spins this one.

  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention Salon: NYT’s “journalistic obedience” | Campaign Outsider --

  3. Michael Pahre says:

    In the very first article I read (not NYT) about Davis and his shootings the state department made clear that he had diplomatic immunity, but would not state his position with the government. And Davis was carrying a gun in a foreign country.

    I came to the obvious conclusion that Davis was CIA. There was simply no other explanation. I assumed it was just a matter of time before this was acknowledged publicly. I didn’t need no friggin’ newspaper to read between the lines for me.

    That the NYT did not withhold the story altogether — only withholding that pesky CIA detail — isn’t that big a deal. It really isn’t comparable to the NSA wiretapping story where the whole story from beginning to end was totally unknown prior to publication.

  4. Curmudgeon says:

    Isn’t withholding a key element to a story the real point being made? Half a story has the tendency to warp perspectives. And, of course, it raises the question of what other stories have similar key information being withheld.

    Does the NY Times get a pass because of it being the NY Times?

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