The GOP's Latest Scapegoat

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The GOP's Latest Scapegoat

In this column in The New Yorker, David Remnick examines the "ideological noise machine" that has taken its cues from the Bush administration's attacks on newspapers and journalists. Remnick notes this irony:
Curiously, it was (Republican Congressman Peter) King who, in September of 2004, co-chaired a hearing so that a Treasury official could tell the world how the department’s programs were driving terrorists out of the banking system; now [King] speaks of employing the 1917 Espionage Act to investigate and try journalists.

Last week, the House approved a resolution condemning the newspapers that published the banking story for placing “the lives of Americans in danger.” The resolution passed 227–183, almost completely along party lines.

On the airwaves and in the blogosphere, it got uglier.

Melanie Morgan, a shouter on northern California’s biggest talk radio station, told the San Francisco Chronicle that if Bill Keller, the executive editor of the (New York) Times, “were to be tried and convicted of treason, yes, I would have no problem with him being sent to the gas chamber.”

The Bush Administration can’t really believe that these newspaper stories have undermined the battle against Al Qaeda; what’s more, it knows that over the decades papers like the Times have kept many stories and countless particulars secret when editors saw that it was in the interest of national security and military safety to do so.

The Times banking story disclosed no leads, named no targets. To say that it risked lives is like saying that an article revealing that cops tap phones to monitor the activities of the Mafia is a gift to the Five Families of New York.

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