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The New York Times and freedom of the press

By       Message Patrick Martin     Permalink
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Cross-posted from WSWS

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An extraordinary commentary published in the New York Times Book Review -- posted online May 22, scheduled for print publication June 8 -- asserts that the US government must be the final decision-maker on whether leaked information about government wrongdoing should be published by the press.

This anti-democratic screed, worthy of any police state, is written by Michael Kinsley, a longtime fixture of the punditry establishment and the former co-host of CNN's "Crossfire" program. His commentary takes the form of a review of Glenn Greenwald's new book No Place to Hide on the Edward Snowden revelations about illegal mass surveillance by the National Security Agency.

Kinsley ridicules Greenwald's claim that blanket NSA surveillance of electronic communications is a threat to the democratic rights of the American people, and that Snowden was justified in exposing government criminality by leaking documents to Greenwald and other journalists for eventual publication in the Guardian (US) and the Washington Post.

He sums up as follows: "The question is who decides. It seems clear, at least to me, that the private companies that own newspapers, and their employees, should not have the final say over the release of government secrets, and a free pass to make them public with no legal consequences. In a democracy (which, pace Greenwald, we still are), that decision must ultimately be made by the government ... Someone gets to decide, and that someone cannot be Glenn Greenwald" (emphasis added).

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Patrick Martin writes for the World Socialist Website (wsws.org), a forum for socialist ideas & analysis & published by the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI).

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