Hi Mom and Dad!
Well, I have to say my idea for starting this Camp New York Times retreat was certainly one of my more inspired brainstorms since taking over for poor Howell Raines as Executive Editor. I actually invited Howie up for the weekend thinking it would do him good to see the old gang again. But he mumbled something rather uncomplimentary about you, mom and well – I figured he just wouldn’t fit in with the group anymore. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that Jayson Blair was staying in the Alumni cabin.
I’m having a wonderful time. Sure is nice to get away from the city where I have to rub elbows with the hoi polloi and endure the stultifying presence of so many commoners. By the way, I know you’ll get a kick out of this: One of the security guards downstairs actually had the temerity to say “Hi Mr. Keller” to me the other day. I gave him my best “New York Times Executive Editor Haughty Glance,” barely acknowledging his presence with an ever so slight nod of my patrician head. That shut him up quick. He hasn’t had the gumption to say anything to me since. Now if I could only be that successful about shutting up our Public Editor Byron Calame and stop him from bothering me all the time with stupid questions about this or that story. I am so sorry I hired him.
You may have read in our newspaper right before I left for camp about my latest triumph; publishing more hush-hush stuff from the government. We’re all having fun up here reading how simply everyone is talking about it. Right after me and some of the boys carried out a panty raid on Maureen Dowd’s cabin (she asked us to stay and “play” but Dad, you should see that woman without makeup. Yikes!), I decided it was time to write a letter explaining my decision to publish the story about this top secret program to track terrorist wire transfers.
Well, you know the drill. Blah, Blah, Blah “bill of rights.” Fiddle, Fiddle, Faddle “freedom of the press.” This is usually good enough to satisfy the really important people like my friends at The New Yorker and The Nation. And, of course, I don’t have to work very hard to get Babs Streisand or any of our Hollywood friends on my side. Besides, I’m sure you know what a complete waste of my time writing letters like this is. Since I don’t feel like I have to explain myself to anybody, much less a bunch of Bush loving chimpanzees, I made this one extra irrelevant. Not once did I mention the real reason I spilled the beans about this perfectly legal program; it makes me feel real important, almost like I was in charge of the country.
In fact, one of our funnest games here at Camp is to pretend that all of us at the Times are more important than the elected government and that I get to decide what laws to obey and which ones to ignore. It’s almost as fun as my favorite game, “I’ve Got a Secret to Publish” although all of the government leakers I asked up here who have helped us with the top secret stuff would rather play “Get Bush” which, as you know, is getting to be so boring since we play that game everyday, day in and day out at the office. (To tell you the truth, I’m getting a little tired of having those leakers around. After all, they are bureaucrats and not the right sort to invite to The Club for a drink or take out on the Sound in the Avenger .)
One thing kind of bothers me, mom. All of these wild people on the internet. You know, the bloggers and such. Now you know me. I wouldn’t know a kilobyte from a kipper. But these bloggers are sort of smart – in a pedestrian kind of way. I mean, they’re not “smart” like us. They probably don’t know about the real important stuff like never wearing navy blue after Labor Day or how a gentleman shells an oyster in a restaurant. (Just like you taught me, dad. Gently…gently.)
But these bloggers are screaming bloody murder about this terrorist thing and want me arrested because they say I helped the enemy during wartime. Now you and I both know dad, that it’s not very sporting of us to have such a huge advantage over the terrorists when it comes to our hi tech stuff. All I’ve been trying to do by publishing the gobs of secrets about how we monitor terrorists is “level the playing field” a little. Jeepers! We do this all the time in politics. Anytime a Republican gets a lead on a Democrat, all we have to do is a couple of hit pieces, blow things way out of proportion, (you know…allow that note of hysteria to creep into our coverage) and things are back level – or better.
So these bloggers are driving us nuts over this and now, some people are talking about prosecuting me. I’d be interested in your thoughts, dad, about who I should call to represent me. Paul Krugman thinks I should get Robert Bennett, the man who kept Bill Clinton out jail. But I think I’d rather go with a New Yorker. Maybe the ACLU can recommend someone.
Anyway, that’s about all if have to say. Keep reading our paper. I’m sure before too long, I’ll have some more juicy government secrets to spill.
Michelle Malkin has a great round up of reaction to Keller’s curious missive and links to Patterico’s analysis of a radio interview done by LA Times Washington Bureau Chief Doyle McManus during which the journalist tried to explain why the paper went with the story:
The bottom line is, of course, that McManus and his colleagues took it upon themselves to decide what classified information the public (and our enemies) should know about. Bizarrely, he claims that the critical factors in his decision were whether the program was legal and had adequate safeguards â€” even though, as I document in a related post, it was indeed legal and had extensive safeguards in place. Thus, his excuses are an apparent cover for some other motivation, as yet unrevealed.
Could it possibly be that McManus, Keller, and many other mainstream journalists and broadcasters are perhaps daring the Administration to initiate prosecutions against them? While I have no doubt that they can justify the decision to publish details of these programs based on their perception of the public’s “right to know” – a necessarily broad and all-encompassing reason – the fact is, it simply doesn’t adequately explain why they feel compelled to expose a secret program of obvious legality and with several different levels of safeguards (not the least of which is oversight by Swift itself).
It really is curious.