Sunday, December 21, 2014

Accidentally Revealed: The New York Times Is Still Suppressing News “Every Month”

Today’s New York Times has a self-celebratory story by Margaret Sullivan, its usually perceptive public editor, that tells us how independent its news operation is today compared to a decade ago.  Today, we are told, repeated government requests to withhold stories are routinely turned down.

Wait: did she just say that the government continues to ask The Times to suppress news stories?  Yes, and referring to Dean Baquet, the paper’s executive editor, Sullivan writes
Mr. Baquet told me that, even now, “certainly a month doesn't go by” that there isn't some government effort to persuade The Times not to publish something. How often are they successful? “Very rarely.”
What jumps out from this is not the fact that stories are occasionally withheld, which may well be justified, but that we aren't being told about government pressure to suppress the news when it isn't.

From the reader’s standpoint, the government’s attempt to stifle the news is news, and we’re not getting it.  From the government’s standpoint, The Times' policy means that pressuring to keep information under wraps is a one-way bet.  If they win, the public is kept in the dark.  If they lose, there is no cost to trying because the public never finds out about that either.

Hint to The Times: if they want less pressure from Washington they should report on it.

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