Wednesday, December 1, 2010

NY Times let the White House partake in editing... A democratic problem?

With the latest round of the Wikileaks cables, the New York Times followed suit with prior practices, and has let the White House in on what it was going to publish. According to the newspaper, the White House suggested redactions and the Times "agreed to some, but not all" of the government's suggestions. The newspaper agreed, furthermore, to forward "the administration’s concerns to other news organizations and, at the suggestion of the State Department, to WikiLeaks itself".

The Times' willingness to open up to the White House follows a worrying prior tendency that the newspaper is willing to sacrifice its editorial rights and support the governmental position. The Times' coverage of the early stage of the Iraq war was, for example, also found to be biased in favor of the government. Worse yet is the fact that the newspaper in 2008 ran a story on how government officials met with media reporters to try to influence their coverage on that war. If the Times found this story newsworthy in 2008, it's strange that they are willing to get into something quite similar now.

Update: It has become increasingly clear that these NY Times redactions are in fact posted on the WikiLeaks website too. This must mean that WikiLeaks must actually tolerate the practice. It could also be added that the NY Times may have had legitimate reasons to do what they did. Involving governmental officials could be legitimate, as long as the protection of individuals is a central issue.

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