There is much to be said about Bradley Manning’s remarkable day in court yesterday—he pleaded guilty to numerous charges for passing material to WikiLeaks and offered a lengthy and revealing statement about it all—but since I concentrate on the media here, let’s stick to that angle for now. Yesterday I provided commentary and numerous links on this and other angles here.
In his statement, Manning provided for the first time a blow-by-blow on how and why he came to contact WikiLeaks in early 2010 in a process that led to the passing of an infamous video and millions of documents to them. It turns out that he first contacted The New York Times and The Washington Post and planned to reach out to Politico (that is, if everyone there was not over at Bob Woodward’s house) but was turned back by bad weather.
Manning said that he had called the Times’s public editor and left a message on his news tips line, briefly explaining what he had in mind. That post, ironically, was then filled by Clark Hoyt, who had directed the Knight Ridder (now McClatchy) office in DC that earned so much (belated) glory for their very rare, tough coverage of the bogus Bush claims of Iraq WMD. Manning never got a call back. Hoyt told Calderone yesterday that he had no recollection of such a call.
Manning did manage to get through to an unnamed reporter at The Washington Post, who seemed to brush him off, although it’s possible his description of what he wanted to leak might have sounded jumbled and hard to judge.
Failing in these efforts, he then learned about the WikiLeaks submission process and—the rest is history.
Jeff Jarvis, among others, has raised the question of what would have happened if the Times had returned his call? Would it, too, have regarded him as just another sketchy and unworthy source—or, why not, asked him to send along his treasure trove? If he did pass on the bombshell material, how would the Times have responded? If it went ahead and published, wouldn’t it have been in the legal spotlight and taken the brunt of criticism and harsh charges?
For now, let me recommend that you consult Manning’s full statement, which includes so many interesting details and revelations barely mentioned in the mainstream accounts today. For background, there’s my recent book with Kevin Gosztola.