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All The News That Is ‘significant or surprising’: NYT editor defends ignoring NSA-Israel collaboration (Updated)

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Update (Ahmed Moor):

There’s more to the story. It turns out that Baquet has a history of burying important stories related to the NSA. This is a 2007 ABC News article on how Baquet killed a report about AT&T technician Mark Klein discovered the NSA was collecting customer data:

[A]fter working for two months with LA Times reporter Joe Menn, Klein says he was told the story had been killed at the request of then-Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte and then-director of the NSA Gen. Michael Hayden. The Los Angeles Times’ decision was made by the paper’s editor at the time, Dean Baquet, now the Washington bureau chief of The New York Times. Baquet confirmed to ABCNews.com he talked with Negroponte and Hayden but says “government pressure played no role in my decision not to run the story.” Baquet says he and managing editor Doug Frantz decided “we did not have a story, that we could not figure out what was going on” based on Klein’s highly technical documents. The reporter, Menn, declined to comment, but Baquet says he knows “Joe disagreed and was very disappointed.”

So what’s happening here? Did Baquet speak to government officials before burying the Israel/NSA story? Who did he speak to? What’s his relationship to the spy apparatus? And how can he justify undermining journalism on two separate occasions at a six-year interval? Maybe Ms. Sullivan can help answer some of these questions.

Interestingly, this earlier story also contained an Israeli angle, as Klein discovered the NSA was using Israeli-linked technology to surveil the AT&T network.

Original Post (Adam Horowitz):

The New York Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan has an interesting post on the paper’s decision to ignore last week’s Guardian scoop that the National Security Agency was sharing raw intelligence (including that on U.S. citizens) with Israel. Sullivan queried Times Managing Editor Dean Baquet about the oversight and he stands by it:

After a weekend in which no mention was made in The Times of the article, I asked the managing editor, Dean Baquet, about it on Monday morning.

He told me that The Times had chosen not to follow the story because its level of significance did not demand it.

“I didn’t think it was a significant or surprising story,” he said. “I think the more energy we put into chasing the small ones, the less time we have to break our own. Not to mention cover the turmoil in Syria.”

So, I asked him, by e-mail, was this essentially a question of reporting resources? After all, The Times could have published an article written by a wire service, like Reuters or The Associated Press.

“I’d say resources and news judgment,” he responded.

In a world with many news outlets, he said: “We can spend all our time matching stories, and not actually covering the news. This one was modest and didn’t feel worth taking someone off greater enterprise.”

Sullivan shares that she was moved to raise the question after “dozens” of readers pressed her on it. Sullivan disagrees with Baquet’s decision, and it seems many readers do as well. From the comments on Sullivan’s post:

Mark Pepp, Chicago –

“To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.” ― Voltaire.

Too true; Mr Baquet’s explanation somehow seems to perpetuate the sense that the NYTimes DOES filter out news on some sensitive subjects that its readers might find disturbing. NOT publishing news of the NSA handing to Israel’s spy agencies all this unfiltered, uncensored NSA spy data concerning US citizens’ calls, emails, etc, just feel like a news blackout. . . .

As Ms Sullivan noted, the Times has been working many news stories originating with the Guardian and the leaked Snowden/NSA documents. To somehow deem this huge data dump by the NSA to Israel as a non-story just reeks of over-caution and self-censorship by the Times.

Nancy, Great Neck –

That the NSA is spying on ordinary American citizens is bad enough but that the NSA is giving raw spying data to Israel is astounding. The New York Times should have covered this thoroughly, of course.

Technic Ally, Toronto –

Not all the news that’s fit to print.

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does anyone remember the history of the NYT burying the NSA warrentless wiretaping story at the request of checney&co for months before the ’04 election?

http://www.democracynow.org/2008/4/1/exclusivebushs_law_eric_lichtblau_on_exposing

Far and away the most important US institution that is overwhelmingly Jewish owned and managed is our big print and broadcast media. It is no secret many American Jews oppose Israel’s ethnic cleansing and occupation of the Palestinians, but those numbers do not include even one of our Jewish owned or managed media outlets. How did they become so out of step?

“I didn’t think it was a significant or surprising story,” he said. “I think the more energy we put into chasing the small ones, the less time we have to break our own. Not to mention cover the turmoil in Syria.” Lends support to the theory that one of the reasons for the war talk about Syria (a sudden change in Obama administration policy) was to divert attention from the NSA scandals. By the way,… Read more »

It’s been clear since the early Bush years that there is a “story graveyard,” to which big stories are sent to die, apparently because someone with power and influence does not want them pursued. Baquet’s service here and there, and track record of killing stories for the NSA invites real journalistic attention: is he just a journalist with a weird sense of what’s important, or prone to giving undue deference to secret government agencies and… Read more »

RE: “Mr Baquet’s explanation somehow seems to perpetuate the sense that the NYTimes DOES filter out news on some sensitive subjects that its readers might find disturbing.” ~ Nancy, Great Neck MY COMMENT: To be more specific, I would say it probably has to do with two particular filters identified by Herman and Chomsky in Manufacturing Consent: 1) The Advertising License to Do Business; and especially, 2) Flak and the Enforcers. (see below) FROM WIKIPEDIA… Read more »