It’s one thing for journalists to challenge the government, to serve as a check on its power. It’s another to assume a knee-jerk oppositionalism that’s out of touch with the middle register of the country and with wartime exigencies. Far from being rooted in responsibility and idealism about how our democracy functions, the cablegate stories are the rotten fruit of a punitive liberalism that takes the U.S. government to be so inherently evil that only the Fourth Estate, led by The Times and the odious Assange, can rectify the nation’s sins.
Yesterday, Bill Keller distanced himself from Assange, declaring at a Harvard forum that he didn’t see Assange as a“kindred spirit.”
Yet as the old saw goes, sleep with dogs and you wake up with fleas. Unlike Manning and Assange, it’s unlikely that The Times will stand in any court docket over this episode, but when one or both do, The Times will be standing next to them, morally at least.