The Knucklehead of the Day award
Today's winner is Byron Calame, The public editor of the New York Times. In yesterday's newspaper, Mr. Calame wrote-
Since the job of public editor requires me to probe and question the published work and wisdom of Times journalists, there’s a special responsibility for me to acknowledge my own flawed assessments.
My July 2 column strongly supported The Times’s decision to publish its June 23 article on a once-secret banking-data surveillance program. After pondering for several months, I have decided I was off base. There were reasons to publish the controversial article, but they were slightly outweighed by two factors to which I gave too little emphasis. While it’s a close call now, as it was then, I don’t think the article should have been published.
Those two factors are really what bring me to this corrective commentary: the apparent legality of the program in the United States, and the absence of any evidence that anyone’s private data had actually been misused. I had mentioned both as being part of “the most substantial argument against running the story,” but that reference was relegated to the bottom of my column.
The source of the data, as my column noted, was the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or Swift. That Belgium-based consortium said it had honored administrative subpoenas from the American government because it has a subsidiary in this country.
I haven’t found any evidence in the intervening months that the surveillance program was illegal under United States laws. Although data-protection authorities in Europe have complained that the formerly secret program violated their rules on privacy, there have been no Times reports of legal action being taken. Data-protection rules are often stricter in Europe than in America, and have been a frequent source of friction.
Thank you Mr. Calame for admitting your newspaper's stupidity. The NYT won a knucklehead award for this story.
Then why is Mr. Calame getting a knucklehead for admitting his and the Times's mistake? Here's the kicker.
What kept me from seeing these matters more clearly earlier in what admittedly was a close call? I fear I allowed the vicious criticism of The Times by the Bush administration to trigger my instinctive affinity for the underdog and enduring faith in a free press — two traits that I warned readers about in my first column.
Blame Bush! No Mr. Calame, Bush had nothing to do with your failing to do your job. You should be embarassed by what happened, not passing the blame onto others. But then, many liberals never take blame for their mistakes. I guess this line of thought had to be expected then.
Byron Calame is today's knucklehead of the day.
Also commenting on Mr. Calame's column- Michelle Malkin, A Blog for All, Iowa Voice, Don Surber, LaShawn Barber, Sister Toldjah, Lorie at Wizbang, Captain's Quarters,
Linked to- Bright & Early, Right Wing Nation, Jo's Cafe, Basil's Blog, Cao's Blog, Third World County,