PRAIRIESON: The War Of the Times
The War Of the Times
The BBC is a perfect example of a government-run media conglomerate that is also out-of-touch with many of the very citizens that pay for its upkeep. Even when Thatcher was PM, she had to deal with a very hostile media (to the point the British journalists were denied access to the opening of the Falklands War).
Further, even in a democracy, government operations are often controlled at the bureaucratic level where loyalty to the taxpaying voter is questionnable at best. I am sure most government workers are like everyone else but the corporate mentality can often overrule common sense; there are so many examples of this one could write a book (and many have).
By "free press" I mean "free of prior restraint"; no one is free from consequences of what they publish after-the-fact if that published material defames, slanders, abets a felony or reveals classified secrets. It is doubtful the NY Times could've survived WWII if it had, say, come out in support of Nazi Germany during the height of the war. Not only would public opinion have been against it, the government had sufficient powers to shut the NY Times down as an overt enemy operation if it had so chosen (under the powers Roosevelt had at the time).
Even if the NY Times had simply published daily updates of ship movements in the Atlantic during WWII, that would've been enough to get the publisher and responsible editors some hard jailtime. Why? Because the press does not have an unrestricted privilege to disclose whatever it chooses and for obvious reasons. While I prefer the press remain free of prior restraint, it is critical to the survival of a free press that it know, clearly, where the boundaries are.
The NY Times just recently crossed that boundary. Those responsible should've been immediately charged with violations of confidentiality laws or any other laws that cover illegal disclosure of classified information. By doing nothing, this simply emboldens the press -- for whatever motivation -- to release classified information in the future regardless of the harm it may do to the country as a whole.
After this episode, what is to prevent some small radical rag from publishing American troop movements to alert the enemy, perhaps as an editorial protest against the war? They can claim the same press exemption and if nothing is done against the NY Times they can also point to that as defense.
We hope editors and publishers will be responsible but when one looks at what the left is willing to publish as "fact" these days, it should raise concern in all Americans that something has undermined the once-noble press. It does not matter what that is, only that it now threatens the very lives of Americans and the war on terror.
The problem is this: the Supreme Court has, in the recent past, given the media a pass for disclosing classified information. Further, the media is a brotherhood in many respects and they can be expected to defend one of their own in a case before the government. Bush and the Attorney General may be taking this into consideration before doing something more harsh against the NY Times.
The NY Times justified its recent criminal act by claiming it served the public's "right to know". The American people do have the "right to know" that, in this case, the NY Times has hidden the real story between the lines of the offending story: "We don't care if we get you killed."