Memo To Richard Valeriani: Shut Up
Everybody and their editor has an opinion on The New York Times money-tracing story that has the Bush administration in a tizzy while the National Review has all but called for the paper's First Amendment privileges to be revoked.
Nothing unexpected there. But it is a bit startling when the vitriol comes from someone who should know better, in this case Richard Valeriani, the former long-time NBC correspondent who often dwelled in the national-security trenches.
In the Huffington Post, Richard Valeriani is foaming at the mouth over what he views as borderline treason by Bill Keller's gang.
This was show-off journalism, pure and simple. Look at us. Look at what we found out. Look at how good we are uncovering secrets.
Yeah, so what?
Valeriani almost sounds hurt as if he wishes he was still at the network so he could've been the one on with Brian Williams breaking the story rather than everybody else, who had to chase after the Times, when the story first posted at 9 p.m.
In a vain attempt to justify his sanctimony, Valeriani offers up two analogies and fails miserably both times. First:
After the take-over of the American Embassy in Iran in 1979, I found out that six American diplomats had escaped and were at large somewhere in Teheran. The Executive Editor at NBC Nightly News wanted to run the story, but fortunately, management was more sensible, and we did not report the story at the time.
Bully for him, but how do you equate this story with hostages escaping from dangerous radicals? You don't. We're talking about lives in the balance, as opposed to yet another dash to secrecy by the White House, where the slope becomes ever more slippery for the Constitution. Yes, nothing is illegal about the program. At least from what we've learned so far.
Valeriani saves the best for last:
Running the story about the money-tracing program is a version of giving Anne Frank’s address to the Nazis.
Whoa, Dick! That's a crappy comparison in all kinds of ways.
Reality check time. The Times had the story, with The Wall Street Journal and L.A. Times soon on its tail. In other words, leading newspapers liberal and conservative did their job -- disclosure trumped government secrecy. If anything, the adminstration has only itself to blame. By constantly trying to operate in the dark, even in matters that don't involve security, it was easy not to give the White House the benefit of the doubt.
The Times isn't the enemy. Valeriani should know better along with the other latter-day nattering nabobs of negatavism who all of a sudden think freedom of the press wasn't such a good idea after all.