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kpete Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-09-06 03:06 PM
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Frank Rich: All The News That's Fit To Bully
All the News That's Fit to Bully
by Frank Rich
The New York Times
Published: July 9, 2006

TWO weeks and counting, and the editor of The New York Times still has not been sentenced to the gas chamber. What a bummer for one California radio talk-show host, Melanie Morgan, who pronounced The Times guilty of treason and expressly endorsed that punishment. She and the rest of the get-the-press lynch mob are growing restless, wondering why newspapers haven't been prosecuted under the Espionage Act. "If Bush believes what he is saying," taunted Pat Buchanan, "why does he not do his duty as the chief law enforcement officer of the United States?"

Here's why. First, there is no evidence that the Times article on tracking terrorist finances either breached national security or revealed any "secrets" that had not already been publicized by either the administration or Swift, the Belgian financial clearinghouse enlisted in the effort. Second, the legal bar would be insurmountable: even Gabriel Schoenfeld, who first floated the idea of prosecuting The Times under the Espionage Act in an essay in Commentary, told The Nation this month that the chance of it happening was .05 percent.

But the third and most important explanation has nothing to do with the facts of the case or the law and everything to do with politics. For all the lynch mob's efforts to single out The Times "It's the old trick, go after New York, go after big, ethnic New York," as Chris Matthews put it three papers broke Swift stories on their front pages. Even in this bash-the-press environment, the last spectacle needed by a president with an approval rating in the 30's is the national firestorm that would greet a doomed Justice Department prosecution of The Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Los Angeles Times.

The administration has a more insidious game plan instead: it has manufactured and milked this controversy to reboot its intimidation of the press, hoping journalists will pull punches in an election year. There are momentous stories far more worrisome to the White House than the less-than-shocking Swift program, whether in the chaos of Anbar Province or the ruins of New Orleans. If the press muzzles itself, its under-the-radar self-censorship will be far more valuable than a Nixonesque frontal assault that ends up as a 24/7 hurricane veering toward the Supreme Court.

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Faygo Kid Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-09-06 03:16 PM
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1. I for one will write and thank Frank Rich (again).
Thank God for his voice. He will, of course, be one of the first to be put in the camps, but I hope he is a roomie. Manning Marable, too, who I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with recently. We will be cranky old guys, fer sure.

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