Tags: nytimes | editorial | obama | softer

NY Times Publishes, Then Softens Scathing Editorial of Obama

By Todd Beamon   |   Thursday, 06 Jun 2013 10:26 PM

The New York Times tip-toed away from its scathing attack on the Obama Administration Thursday night, inexplicably toning down an editorial it had published just hours earlier blasting the administration for collecting the telephone records of millions of Verizon customers

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In a scathing editorial published late in the afternoon, the Times editorial board said that the White House had “now lost all credibility” in light of reports that the National Security Agency has been gathering phone records of millions of U.S. customers of Verizon under a top-secret court order issued in April.

But by 9 p.m., the editorial had been updated to say, “The administration has now lost all credibility on this issue," a much softer tone than previously published.

No reason was given why the editorial was updated — and no time stamp indicating when the article was changed and published, unlike with news reports.

The editorial — which received prominent display on websites ranging from Drudge Report to Politico to Fox News and made the rounds throughout Capitol Hill — also was updated to acknowledge that news of the NSA activities was first reported by The Guardian newspaper of London.

The rebuke was the second by the Times in as many months.

Last month, the Times ripped the Justice Department for labeling Fox News reporter James Rosen as a possible “co-conspirator” in a criminal investigation of a news leak about North Korea’s nuclear missile program.

The administration has “moved beyond protecting government secrets to threatening fundamental freedoms of the press to gather news,” the newspaper’s editorial said last month.

The Times has long been sympathetic to President Barack Obama and his administration.

In Thursday afternoon’s editorial, the Times said: “Mr. Obama is proving the truism that the executive branch will use any power it is given and very likely abuse it,” the Times said in the editorial. “That is one reason we have long argued that the Patriot Act … was reckless in its assignment of unnecessary and overbroad surveillance powers.”

The Guardian reported that the blanket order required Verizon, the nation’s No. 2 telecommunications company, to hand over information on all calls in its systems — both within the United States and between the U.S. and other countries.

Verizon, based in New York, must provide the data on an “ongoing, daily basis” through July 19.

The data include the numbers of both parties on a call, location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls. The contents of the conversations itself are not covered in the order, the Guardian reported.

The order was issued on April 25 to the Federal Bureau of Investigation by the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

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In attacking the NSA’s surveillance actions, the Times concluded that the Patriot Act needed to be “sharply curtailed if not repealed.”

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