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NYT Editor Calls Out Own Paper for Ignoring NSA, Israel Revelations

Public editor openly disagrees with managing editor's claim 'story wasn't newsworthy'

Sarah Lazare, staff writer

The New York times building (Photo: REUTERS)

New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan on Monday publicly challenged her paper's decision to ignore last week's revelations that the National Security Agency shares unfiltered raw data intelligence files with the Israeli government.

The story, which was based on classified documents revealed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and reported by Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Ewen MacAskill in the Guardian, was completely omitted from the globally-influential New York Times, despite being covered by the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and The Washington Post.

In an open statement published Monday in the New York Times Public Editor's Journal, Sullivan explains that, by late last week, she had already received a deluge of complaints from readers who wanted to know why the story was completely missing, charging the omission threatens the credibility of the paper. When the weekend passed with still no mention, she decided on Monday to raise the issue with managing editor, Dean Baquet, she explains.

Sullivan received the following response:

“I didn’t think it was a significant or surprising story,” he said. “I think the more energy we put into chasing the small ones, the less time we have to break our own. Not to mention cover the turmoil in Syria.”


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So, I asked him, by e-mail, was this essentially a question of reporting resources? After all, The Times could have published an article written by a wire service, like Reuters or The Associated Press.

“I’d say resources and news judgment,” he responded.

Sullivan openly declares that, in her view, the findings of a secret intelligence sharing agreement with Israel is in fact newsworthy, and the New York Times had an obligation to report it.

"I disagree, however, with Mr. Baquet’s conclusion on this one," she writes. "I find it to be a significant development and something that Times readers should not have to chase around the Web to find out about. They should be able to read it in The Times."

The New York Times has been widely criticized for biased pro-Israel coverage that ignores human rights abuses, war crimes, and civil liberties violations by this close U.S. ally.


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