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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

The Privileges and Arrogance of the New York Times

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New York Times editor Bill Keller did not return my call or my producer’s call or respond in any way to my invitation to appear on the program today to discuss his extraordinary letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal. (The background to today’s invitation is provided in this post, as well as the links to all the relevant articles.)

In his place, I have interviewed law professors Erwin Chemerinsky, John Eastman, Jonathan Adler and Eugene Volokh –all ConLaw experts with enormous experience in First Amendment matters– as well as Commentary senior editor Gabriel Schoenfeld and NYU’s Jay Rosen.

No one I have spoken to today asserts or defends the idea that the New York Times, or anyone else, is exempt from the laws governing the unlawful release of highly classified material. Bill Keller has never agreed to comprehensive questioning about his paper’s conduct in the NSA surveillance controversy, and his refusal to do so actually strengthens the argument for a Department of Justice investigation including the impaneling of a grand jury and the summoning of reporters/editors involved in the leak.

Keller fires off e-mails and “letters to the editor,” but won’t answer direct questions about his paper’s decision to imperil the national security. If the paper has done a noble and good thing, why not?

Radioblogger will have the transcripts of many if not all of these interviews. The invitation to Mr. Keller remains open. Bill Keller wrote last week that “No president likes reporters sniffing after his secrets, but most come to realize that accountability is the price of power in our democracy.”

The Bush Adminsitration is the definition of openness compared to the New York Times.


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