The New York Times may not be big on keeping American national security secrets whose exposure violates the espionage laws of the United States. Anyone who doubts this should take a look at Gabriel Schoefeld’s Necessary Secrets, which scrupulously recounts the Times’s blowing of the NSA al Qaeda eavesdropping program and the Treasury Department terrorist finance tracking program. Islamist terrorists all over the world have taken note and in their own way given thanks to the Times.
When it comes to the public disgrace of a Democratic congressman, however, the Times occasionally exercises its discretion to try to keep a secret. Take the case of North Carolina Rep. Bob Etheridge, who assaulted a young man on the sidewalk after a Nancy Pelosi fundraiser. The young man was part of a duo that sought to capture Rep. Etheridge’s response to their insanely provocative question: “Do you fully support the Obama agenda?” Despite the congressman’s best efforts, the duo caught Ethereidge’s reaction quite effectively.
In addition to showing Etheridge’s sensitivity to a difficult question, the Etheridge video raises the question whether Etheridge has a drinking problem. Indeed, that may be the most charitable explanation of the congressman’s behavior. It certainly put me in mind of then Minnesota Senator Walter Mondale’s explanation to me of certain unsenatorial comments made by Louisiana Senator Russell Long on the floor of the Senate in the summer of 1969: “Russell was drunk.” (Long’s problematic relationship with alcolhol was an open secret among his Senate colleagues.)
If you get your news from Fox News or from the Internet, you have probably learned about the Etheridge case. If you rely on the New York Times that is delivered to your door for your news, however, the Etheridge case remains a deep secret. The Times’s coverage is limited to one blog post by Jeff Zeleny.
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