The editorial, titled "A Response to President Xi Jingping," contains the following paragraph:
The Times has no intention of altering its coverage to meet the demands of any government — be it that of China, the United States or any other nation. Nor would any credible news organization. The Times has a long history of taking on the American government, from the publication of the Pentagon Papers to investigations of secret government eavesdropping.
That's nice to read and all. It's kind of like a Taylor Swift song about ethics in journalism: exactly what you'd expect. But is it true? It's possible that there is some new internal edict at the Times, professing that they will not respond to government pressure in any form from this day forward. But they have certainly submitted to United States government coercion in the past. Here are a few recent instances that come to mind:
On Sept. 23, The New York Times reported that the Benghazi attack was a "major blow" to the CIA's intelligence gathering efforts in Libya. The Times wrote that there were "about a dozen CIA operatives and contractors" working at the site of the attack.
However, the Times didn't report that the former SEALs were with the CIA, while acknowledging that the paper had "agreed to withhold locations and details of these operations at the request of Obama administration officials, who said that disclosing such information could jeopardize future sensitive government activities and put at risk American personnel working in dangerous settings."
The New York Times stated that it "had agreed to temporarily withhold information" about Davis' CIA ties at the Obama administration's request, after officials "argued that disclosure of his specific job would put his life at risk." The Washington Post and AP also cited risks to Davis' life as the primary reason for withholding the information.
"In an article posted on the Web on Friday and published on Saturday, The New York Times agreed to withhold the identities of the Qaeda leaders whose conversations were intercepted after senior American intelligence officials said the information could jeopardize their operations. The names were disclosed Sunday by McClatchy Newspapers, and after the government became aware of the article on Monday, it dropped its objections to The Times's publishing the same information."
The Times is expected to also acknowledge having held information on [Robert] Levinson's CIA ties, according to sources familiar with the matter.
Barry Meier, the Times reporter who wrote the story, has covered Levinson's ordeal for several years. When reached Friday morning, Meier declined to discuss the matter.
New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson, managing editor Dean Baquet and a spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment about plans to publish.
Perhaps semantics come into play: is withholding information the same as altering it? But then ask yourself if a newspaper can really "take on" an administration for which it routinely bends over—patina of ethics be damned.
[Photo via AP]