Saturday, July 01, 2006

Forever free to censure the government

Last week, when I read the New York Times' report on the government's use of financial communication data to track terrorist activity, I said to Mike, "Look, the Times has just earned their Pulitzer this year." I like the theory one of Andrew Sullivan's readers proposed: the story makes the Bush administration look great. They wanted it published so they could trumpet what a brilliant job they're doing and villify the press, which always plays well to the conservative base.

Today, NY Times editor Bill Keller and LA Times editor Dean Baquet have published a reminder that telling us what our government is doing is not only the right guaranteed the press in the First Amendment, but also its primary responsibility in a democracy:
Thirty-five years ago yesterday, in the Supreme Court ruling that stopped the government from suppressing the secret Vietnam War history called the Pentagon Papers, Justice Hugo Black wrote: "The government's power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the government. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of the government and inform the people."
Censor/Censure...nicely done.

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