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The worst of Times

The New York Times has been caught bragging about "data mining" -- the same process that they railed against the government doing, to the point where they bagged a Pulitzer for exposing the government doing the very same practice. But where the government was doing it for nefarious, underhanded reasons -- protecting Americans from terrorist attacks -- the Times was doing it for the most selfless, patriotic, and noble intentions: making money.

After all, they've been losing money hand over fist the past few years, and as this simply wouldn't be "the land of the free and the home of the brave" without the Times, keeping them afloat is actually the highest form of patriotism around.

In all seriousness, as I was reading the story, I felt like I had not only read it before, but written about it. I was mistaken, though; the prior story was not about the Times and data mining, but the Times and attempting to unseal adoption records for purely political reasons.

I'm beginning to see a pattern emerge here, and it ain't a pretty one. In the case of the shield laws, the Times wants reporters to be immune from the law governing every other citizen about obeying the legal demands of courts and other bodies empowered to compel testimony. In the case of data mining, they want to forbid the government access to a very powerful tool -- the same tool that the Times wants to use on the very same people, in the name of its own profits. And in the case of the Roberts adoption, they wanted to go on a "fishing expedition" and open the sealed records -- as it almost always the case in adoptions -- and see if they could find any irregularities. They didn't even bother to make up some allegations; they wanted to violate the privacy of Roberts' two young children just to see if they could find something wrong.

I don't think it's unfair to say that these three events all form a pattern: the Times wants to undermine our faith in the government and deny it access to all sorts of information and techniques, because those would be a threat to our freedom. At the same time, it wants to claim those very same powers for itself, in the name of protecting our freedom.

But where there is a level of accountability to government power, in the form of regular elections, there is no such check on the power of the Times. Its directors are answerable only to its stockholders, and even most of them are excluded from exerting any sort of check.

And if they get a shield law passed, then they will be even more insulated from any sort of reckoning for their misdeeds. Judith Miller might be the very last reporter to go to jail for refusing to cooperate with a federal investigation -- and in her case, one that the Times had repeatedly called for and backed, as long as it didn't lead towards them.

Thomas Jefferson once famously said that "if I had to choose between government without newspapers or newspapers without government, I would unhesitatingly choose the latter." A noble sentiment from the Sage of Monticello, but I sincerely doubt that he would go along with giving a single newspaper -- especially one so steeped in bias and fraud as the Times has become in recent years -- powers far beyond that of the government.


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Comments (25)

In TJ's time, there wasn't ... (Below threshold)

In TJ's time, there wasn't such a group think among the majority of the news media.

Wow--the NYT's couldn't get... (Below threshold)

Wow--the NYT's couldn't get any lower. Could they? And how's that Walter Duranty Pulitzer retraction coming?

"...the Times wants to unde... (Below threshold)

"...the Times wants to undermine our faith in the government..."


The MSM wants Americans to feel ashamed of America (how are often are we called to apologize for something in our past?*) and thus turn to THEM for guidance. It's the ultimate power play.

A national without pride and faith (both spiritual and temporal) is apathatic and ready to fall to the strongest bully.

Britain is even worse, but I don't think it's lost yet.

*BTW: the next person who calls on the government (or any entity) to apologize for something, say, that happened 50 or more years ago, has to detail what he or she would have done at the time with the same information and in the same cultural mindset. This is not to defend some tragic decisions but to show that evil intent was not usually the primary motivating factor

Americans yield to their me... (Below threshold)

Americans yield to their merchants so they can be robbed what they deny to their soldiers to save their lives.

There's nothing wrong with ... (Below threshold)

There's nothing wrong with 'data mining' in itself. It's where you are mining the data from that is the concern.

Jefferson's argument is tha... (Below threshold)

Jefferson's argument is that a people debating polity with healthy public discourse is preferable to a people governed without public discourse.

His quote updated would be that given a choice of government and MSM or government and the internet, he would unhesitatingly choose the latter.

We have become a nation of ... (Below threshold)

We have become a nation of double standards.

the Times wants to under... (Below threshold)

the Times wants to undermine our faith in the government

Jay, I must respectfully disagree.

The Times wants to undermine our faith in Republicans.

If President Gore or President Kerry had done the same sort of data mining that the Bush Administration has done, the Times wouldn't have uttered a peep.

To get the Times' take on any given political story, you only need remember two rules:

*Democrat/leftist = good.
*Republican/conservative = bad.

C-C-G, you just nailed it. ... (Below threshold)

C-C-G, you just nailed it. The NYT's is Stalinist to the core.

It's the same double standa... (Below threshold)

It's the same double standard the left uses, when it says it doesn't want to police the bedroom (i.e. allow unlimited abortion) under the "right to privacy," but they want to legislate how much heat, light, electricity, and waste you consume and produce there through their environmental regulations in your home, and your "private life."

Actually, C-G-C, the Clinto... (Below threshold)

Actually, C-G-C, the Clinton/Gore folks did this in the '90's--it was called "Echelon." It is the NSA program which matches snippets of phone conversations against a list of keywords.

Echelon even made it to 60 Minutes.

But not one of those howling now batted an eye then. That's clear, unfettered hypocrisy for all to see, if they will see.

Both sides have their hypoc... (Below threshold)

Both sides have their hypocrisy. The NYT is willing to see Americans die if they could prevent a national security tool being used as part of an effort to score political points for the left. But they rejoice in making money using similar tools for their own gain.

The bottom line is that if you are in the NYT database you are being both deluded by their political bias impacting their news coverage and being exploited by them in ways they deem wrong to protect you but right for them to make money.

With a two-fer like that, who says that the MSM doesn't offer value?

Data mining sucks. But here... (Below threshold)

Data mining sucks. But here's the important difference between the NY Times doing it, and the Bush Administration doing it:

1) The NY Times doesn't have guns, a military, or the ability to throw me , as a private innocent citizen, in jail.

2) The NY Times' use of data mining is beholden to approval by courts, and US citizens have ways to redress the situation if they feel the NY Times is abusing it.

To my knowledge the Bush administration, as the highest office in the land, offered and is offering no such safeguards or ways to redress wrongs.

3) The NY Times is *telling people* it's doing data mining - the Bush Administration did not. If the highest executive office is data-mining the lives of innocent unsuspected people and not notifying Congress, that bugs the crap out of me.

There are ways the Bush administration could do the same thing, anonymously; all the information could be automatically encrypted as it was gathered, and when suspicious patterns emerge, those identities who are suspected could then be un-encrypted via a warrant.

This simple solution was not pursued at all.

4) One of the biggest issues here is that the government could subpeona the NY Times data-mined data.

All of these issues boil down to one point:

This is a big issue because the NY Times does not have power over private citizens, and the US government does.

You can see the difference there, right?

Actually, Mitchell, the Ech... (Below threshold)

Actually, Mitchell, the Echelon program under Clinton was only used for foreign surveillance, and included no surveillance of US citizens. So it was not in violation of the US Constitution.

Also, the Echelon program was done in full and total compliance with FISA. Whereas the Bush administration program was not done in compliance with FISA *at all*.

So, there is no hypocrisy involved here.

Quote from George Tenet for... (Below threshold)

Quote from George Tenet for you, on the subject of Echelon under Clinton. Statment given on 12 April 2000:


"Mr. Chairman, I am here today to discuss allegations about SIGINT activities and the so-called Echelon program of the National Security Agency....

"We do not collect against US persons unless they are agents of a foreign power, as that term is defined in law. We do not target their conversations for collection in the United States unless a FISA [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] warrant has been obtained from the FISA court by the Justice Department."

Jim, every report on Echelo... (Below threshold)

Jim, every report on Echelon SPECIFICALLY mentioned its usage for domestic surveillance.

Consider me stunned that Tenet was oblivious.

Mike, Tenet is not saying t... (Below threshold)

Mike, Tenet is not saying the surveillance of US citizens did not occur.

Tenet is stating that the surveillance that was done on US citizens under Clinton, via Echelon, was done in full accordance with FISA.

This makes it quite different from the Bush administration's actions, which was not done in accordance with FISA at all.

Also my earlier reference t... (Below threshold)

Also my earlier reference to Echelon under Clinton, is that it's main purpose was foreign intelligence, whereas the main purpose of the Bush data mining was for US citizens.

jim, you don't have any und... (Below threshold)

jim, you don't have any understanding of the surveillance done through datamining. It doesn't know what it will find before it does; how do you get a warrant for that?

You are desperately wrong o... (Below threshold)

You are desperately wrong on what the main purpose of Bush's datamining is. You've just been mindlessly programmed to believe the worst. Show me damages domestically from this administration's datamining. There is evidence in the public domain of damages averted domestically with this administration's datamining.

What is the matter with you fools?

Jim, Tenet has also said th... (Below threshold)

Jim, Tenet has also said that he spoke to a man in DC on September 12, 2001, when the man was in Paris, stranded by the airline shutdown.

If Tenet told me that stone was hard, I'd try a rock for a pillow.

jim, you don't have any ... (Below threshold)

jim, you don't have any understanding of the surveillance done through datamining. It doesn't know what it will find before it does; how do you get a warrant for that?

kim, you don't have an understanding of the Constitution, if you think that random surveillance of innocent US civilians who aren't suspected of crimes is okey-dokey.

You CAN'T get a warrant for that. That's because our founding fathers didn't want the government to be able to do that!!

You could, as I said in an earlier post, set it up so that the identifies of the people being surveilled is encrypted from those searching, and is therefore anonymous - and then get warrants for the identities of suspects as suspicious patterns emerge.

That would be a way to use this technology to keep this country safe, without violating the Constitution that keeps us safe from our government.

It's a shame the Bush administration doesn't give a damn about the Constitution, if it happens to possibly limit their power.

You are desperately wron... (Below threshold)

You are desperately wrong on what the main purpose of Bush's datamining is. You've just been mindlessly programmed to believe the worst. Show me damages domestically from this administration's datamining. There is evidence in the public domain of damages averted domestically with this administration's datamining.

What? Huh?

The Federal government considers itself able to monitor any and every aspect of the lives of private innocent citizens??

Why doesn't that bother you? Is it because you trust Bush?

Try this on:

Let's say Hillary Clinton became president, and she sets up a program where she can spy on every single thing you do, with everyone else you do it with, whether or not you have ever been convicted of any crime. And there is no oversight over anythign that is being done with this information.

Do you trust Hillary will only use this information to help you? Do you trust Hillary to only use this information for good? Do you trust Hillary not to go after political enemies?

Our founding fathers would not trust Hillary with this. Nor would they trust Bush. Or Bill Clinton. Or Reagan. Or FDR. Or John freakin' Adams. That's why they set up the Constitution the way they did - to keep this power out of the hands of the government.

It's called, preventing abuse of power - no matter WHO is president.

You can see that, right?

If Tenet told me that st... (Below threshold)

If Tenet told me that stone was hard, I'd try a rock for a pillow.

And yet, the Bush administation threatened to fire an employee for telling Congress the truth about the Medicare plan's real cost, but you trust them?


But here's the real point: that's Tenet's testimony, and there's no evidence to disprove it.

So, to your analogy, Tenet tells you stone is hard, and no one is able to prove that it is soft - do you accept that stone is hard?

Sorry, that is not Tenet's ... (Below threshold)

Sorry, that is not Tenet's testimony; it is a poorly written and contradictory, self-serving political apologia, and no one buys it, except, apparently, you. Ask around. His book was co-authored with the man who told Novak that Val Plame worked for the CIA and who now works for NBC, the network that cheerfully aided Tim Russert in perjuring himself in the Libby trial. Sure, I believe this 'testimony'.

Hillary's husband already datamined domestically and used it to political advantage. There is no evidence that Bush has done so. Yes, you do poignantly address the issue of trust in our public officials.

jim, until the datamining program is already identifying suspicious patterns, it doesn't know who it is after. You have a fundamental misunderstanding of how it works.






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