Are New Yorkers embarrassed by their media titans?
Bill Keller goes on Face the Nation and pleads for Americans to understand that the press "is not neutral" in the war.
Ace reporter Eric Lichtblau is reduced to a bad Jon Lovitz routine: "The story couldn't have helped the terrorists! They already knew everything! Yeah, that's the ticket! Everything! Yeah, Dick Clarke told me that. Everybody knows that."
Then New Yorker editor David Remnick runs a Talk of the Town that summons up Nixon to haunt all of our dreams, "Nattering Nabobs." Nixon's campaign against the good guys in the press had taken "fearsome legal shape" in the summer of 1971 when the government actually sought a prior restraint.
Fearsome, that. A lawsuit.
But the press had prevailed, then, though narrowly. And it had not seen "Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and others in the Nixon-Agnew-Ford orbit [leave] Washington believing that the imperial Presidency had been disastrously hobbled by a now imperial press."
But Dick Cheney snuck back in --first as a Congressman, then as a Secretary of Defense, and then twice elected as Veep, and he had sinister plans, and "an ideological noise machine," backed up by a "coordinated offensive" from Bush and Cheney, who "described the Times report as a disgrace and, outrageously, as a boon to further terror attacks."
As though Bush and Cheney don't know that the terrorists knew everything already, except for that amateur Hambali, who you have to admit, got nabbed by the Swift program all the terrorists knew about. Oh, and that other guy, and the others. Well, every other terrorist except those mentioned in the June 23 story knew about it. Outrageous! Yeah, that's the ticket. Outrageous. And Nixon. And the Pentagon papers.
Now Remnick sighs, the "press --particularly the mainstream outlets the White House find most irritating-- is in a collective state of anxious transition, hurt by scandals (Congressman King was quick to mention Jayson Blair, the Times serial fabulist), by the appearance of a blizzard of new technologies and alternatives like Fox News, and by a general sense of economic, even existential, worry."
And Remnick explains it all for his fellow Manhattan readers: "In the wake of of the Administration's record of dishonesty and incompetence in Iraq and the consequent decline in the President's domestic polling numbers, it is not hard to discern why the White House might find a convenient enemy in the editors of the Times: this is an election year."