In an interview with NPR, new editor of the New York Times Dean Baquet regrets that the paper has previously sat on stories at the behest of the government. He acknowledges that this is what cost them the Snowden scoops that he says that he would have loved to have got.
The episode represents both a sore point and a signal lesson for the new executive editor of The New York Times, Dean Baquet.
“It was really painful,” Baquet told me just a few hours after the Pulitzer ceremony. “There is nothing harder than, if you are the New York Times, getting beat on a big national security story — and to get beat by your biggest overseas competitor and your biggest national competitor, at the same time. It was just painful.”
Of course Baquet did something similar when he was editor of the Los Angeles Times. He now says that this was because he was persuaded by the government that publication would cause grave danger to the US but he says that looking back he realizes that those warning were overblown. He now says “I am much, much, much more skeptical of the government’s entreaties not to publish today than I was ever before.”
By saying this, he undermines those pseudo-journalists who worship the NYT and yet seem to think that the government has the right to determine what should be released and have heaped scorn on the journalists who were the ones trusted by Snowden with his documents.
Glenn Greenwald welcomes this statement by Baquet but is rightly skeptical about whether it is genuine or just a pro forma mea culpa in order to put back a little luster on the paper’s tarnished image.
I myself am not convinced that there will be a genuine change. The problem with establishment media like the NYT is not just one of individuals making the wrong judgments in this or that case. The problem is the entire incestuous relationship between them and the government. The model of access journalism that they practice, where they schmooze and curry favor with top government and corporate officials and in return receive information and leaks is one that breeds dependency and subservience and until that is changed to an adversarial one, they will always be suspected of being manipulated by the people they cover.