Pulitzer Prize winner and Snowden go-between Glenn Greenwald said that incoming New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet has a “really disturbing history of practicing this form of journalism that is incredibly subservient to the American National security state.” Baquet, who is replacing the abruptly dismissed Jill Abramson, has been accused of playing a central role in spiking a story about illegal National Security Agency wiretaps when he worked at the Los Angeles Times in 2006.
By contrast, according to Greenwald, who was interviewed by HuffPost Live, Abramson was “probably the best advocate for an adversarial relationship between the government and the media.”
Baquet was implicated as a protector of the intelligence community in 2007 by NSA whistleblower Mark Klein. Klein had documentary and eye-witness evidence of “splitters” built into AT&T switching centersdesigned to copy domestic and international internet traffic, and forward it to the NSA. Klein initially took his story to an L.A. Times reporter, and was told it would be front-page material. After two months, however, Klein was told the story had been killed at the request of then-Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte and then-NSA chief Gen. Michael Hayden.
The decision was made by the L.A. Times editor at the time, Dean Baquet.
When Klein told this part of his narrative on Nightline in 2007, Baquet confirmed he met with Negroponte and Hayden, but said it was his inability to comprehend the story inside Klein’s technical documents that moved him to pull the plug.
Klein then took his information to the New York Times, which published a detailed and fully understandable digest of the revelations in April 2006.
In the last year, the information leaked by Edward Snowden has confirmed what Klein and the New York Times reported. For her part,Abramson, in a January interview with Al Jazeera America, was asked if she viewed Snowden as a traitor or a hero. "I view him,” she said, “as I did Julian Assange and Wikileaks, as a very good source of extremely newsworthy information."
The New York Times has not been as closely associated with the Snowden revelations as have been, say, Greenwald and The Guardian, but the Times has not shied away from reporting the leaks, and, in its editorial pages, has embraced Snowden’s role in uncovering illegal government surveillance.
The contrast, is, it appears, striking. And it strikes Greenwald, who observed that if the past is anything to go by, the replacement of Abramson with Baquet “signals that the New York Times is going to continue to descend downward into this sort of journalism that is very neutered and far too close to the very political factions that it's supposed to exercise oversight over.”
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Any views expressed on The Scrutineer are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera America's editorial policy.