Byron Calame has redeemed himself. The New York Times public editor reveals that the the head editorial honcho Bill Keller has now admitted he lied to the public about the reasons for delaying publication of the NSA surveillance of incoming international phone calls. Calame asks
"Did The Times mislead readers by stating that any delay in publication came after the Nov. 2, 2004, presidential election?"
The answer comes shortly afterward:
I have now learned from Bill Keller, the executive editor, that The Times delayed publication of drafts of the eavesdropping article before the 2004 election. This revelation confirms what anonymous sources had told other publications such as The Los Angeles Times and The New York Observer in December.
A number of readers critical of the Bush administration have remained particularly suspicious of the article's assertion that the publication delay dated back only 'a year' to Dec. 16, 2004. They contend that pre—election disclosure of the National Security Agency's warrantless eavesdropping could have changed the outcome of the election.
So Keller lied to his readers, not wishing to reveal that he could have published the article before the 2004 presidential election, but chose not to do so, and then lied about it. Here's where the lying liar fesses up:
Internal discussions about drafts of the article had been 'dragging on for weeks' before the Nov. 2 election, Mr. Keller acknowledged. That process had included talks with the Bush administration. He said a fresh draft was the subject of internal deliberations 'less than a week' before the election.
The reason why is hinted at in the paragraph preceeding:
'Whether publishing earlier would have influenced the 2004 election is, I think, hard to say. Judging from the public reaction to the N.S.A. eavesdropping reflected in various polls, one could ask whether earlier disclosure might have helped President Bush more than hurt.'
Of course, Keller raises issues of sourcing and other professional, as opposed to political reasons for delaying publication. Whatever. However, he is still caught lying to readers about the delay itself. Why?
'It was probably inelegant wording,' Mr. Keller said, who added later, 'I don't know what was in my head at the time.'
Were the wording and the sensitivity of the election—day timing issue discussed internally? 'I don't remember,' Mr. Keller said in an interview. He does remember discussing that 'I wanted to own up to holding it.' And The Times does deserve credit for disclosing that it had held the story.
So the man whose integrity sets the tone at the NYT lies, and then doesn't bother correcting his lie. Calame tries to be gentle to his boss, but the raw facts are there. He lied, he knew it, he "wanted to own up" (consciousness of guilt), but he did nothing. Until he let it slip out.
Hat tip: Captains Quarters and Lucianne.com
Thomas Lifson 8 13 06