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'New York Times' Hit on 'Softening' Editorial, 'Dismissing' Glenn Greenwald | The Nation

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Greg Mitchell

Greg Mitchell

Media, politics and culture.

'New York Times' Hit on 'Softening' Editorial, 'Dismissing' Glenn Greenwald

Early last evening, I was quick here to cover the breaking “PRISM” Internet spy scandal, then followed with updates and links. Among the issues I mentioned briefly was a shockingly frank New York Times editorial declaring flatly that the Obama administration had “lost all credibility”—and then the newspaper’s belated editing of that charge (after it drew wide attention) to add “on this issue”; and the likely rise to mainstream media fame for Glenn Greenwald, who had a share in both of the bombshell NSA scoops this week. Indeed, the Times posted a profile of Greenwald late yesterday.

Now the Times is getting hit by critics related to both of these hot topics. And the paper’s rigorous public editor Margaret Sullivan weighed in on both this morning.

Sullivan pretty much accepts editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal’s claim that adding “on this issue” to “lost all credibility” simply made clear what they intended all along—they weren’t making a blanket charge against the White House. She added, however, that he should have at least added a note to the editorial explaining this change. Many online critics still scoffed at the Rosenthal claim.

Separately, in a tweet, Sullivan called the paper’s headline on its Greenwald profile, which simply labeled the attorney and author as a “blogger,” was “dismissive.” Others hit a good deal of the rest of the profile’s tone, such as depicting him as “obsessive”—and the absurd critique from Andrew Sullivan. But the “blogger” charge set off a revealing round of discussion on Twitter from the likes of Jay Rosen on the long-running “journalist” vs “blogger” debate and the continuing mainstream putdowns of the latter.

I’m afraid that I am running around today and can’t write more here at the moment, but let me direct you to my Pressing Issues blog, where I have covered both of issues at some length: the editorial controversy here and the Greenwald profile and backlash here.

Bonus: You might enjoy this classic scene from Good Will Hunting where Matt Damon asks, “Why should I work for the NSA???”

Greg Mitchell’s book on the US vs Bradley Manning (with Kevin Gosztola) has just appeared in an updated edition. He blogs several times a day at Pressing Issues.

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