Washington, DC — Accuracy in Media editor Cliff Kincaid has issued the following statement regarding threats to prosecute the New York Times over revealing classified information:
“The Bush Administration has a curious way of dealing with news organizations that disclose classified information and undermine the war on terrorism. Facing the prospect of the New York Times disclosing the existence of a secret program to search bank records for terrorist transactions, the Bush Administration asked that the story not be run but then decided to work with the paper anyway to make sure it had all of its information correct. White House press secretary Tony Snow admits that Times reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau and executive editor Bill Keller received a ‘briefing’ from the government before they published their story and that the administration wanted to make sure the Times was ‘fully informed’ before deciding whether to publish or not. Then, on the day the story was published, the Department of the Treasury held a news conference to confirm and expand on the details in the story.
“If it threatened national security to have the information disclosed, why did the administration help the Times — and other news organizations — make sure the information was correct and confirm the story with a news conference? The answer, quite obviously, is that administration officials wanted to spin the story in a positive way. This is called taking advantage of a bad situation. But they made a bad situation worse.
“This approach reflects fear of the media. It says that the administration has given up an effort to keep this information out of the public domain and that its fallback position is to try to mold what the media ultimately decide to publish.
“A better approach for the White House is to maintain a no-comment and do everything legally possible to prosecute these news organizations.
“Tough talk by President Bush and Vice President Cheney about the disclosure is just that ? talk. Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez has had months to bring a case against the Times over its previous disclosure of a secret NSA terrorist surveillance program but no action has been taken,”
Accuracy In Media (AIM) is a non-profit, grassroots citizens watchdog of the news media that critiques botched and bungled news stories and sets the record straight on important issues that have received slanted coverage.
To schedule an interview with AIM Editor Cliff Kincaid, contact Carisa Bergen at (202) 364-4401 ext. 110.