Jack Shafer: Gauging from My Vast Well of Ignorance, I Suspect That the Following Thing Happened, Which I Just Made Up
A snarky Jack Shafer writes in Slate regarding the disclosure of the Swift counterterror program:
In an open society such as ours, it’s up to the White House to convince the editors not to publish. I claim no inside knowledge about why talks between the administration and the Timeses cratered. Gauging from the White House’s fury, I suspect that it either failed to make a plausible case for keeping the program secret or didn’t want to make a case.
Oh, well. If you claim no inside knowledge, why not just make something up? That’s a lot more fun than, say, doing research to see what someone who does have inside knowledge says.
Gauging from what was said by Doyle McManus, the L.A. Times Washington Bureau Chief who was actually in on these talks, I suspect that Jack Shafer is full of crap. Let’s review what McManus told the AP:
Treasury Department officials spent 90 minutes Thursday meeting with the newspaper’s reporters, stressing the legality of the program and urging the paper to not publish a story on the program, McManus said in a telephone interview.
“They were quite vigorous, they were quite energetic. They made a very strong case,” he said.
Anyone who has followed this story with any degree of interest was aware of this story and this quote from McManus. Evidently, following the story closely is not a requirement for one to spout off in Slate about it.
If the talks broke down, Mr. Shafer, it’s because the papers decided to substitute their judgment for that of the government. It’s just that simple.
But thanks for playing!