An Outbreak of Patriotism
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
What an outbreak of patriotism has engulfed the Washington Post and the New York Times over what they claim was President Trump’s disclosure to the Russians of highly classified intelligence. This supposedly occurred inside the Oval Office during a meeting between Mr. Trump and the Russ foreign minister, Sergey Kislyak. The disclosure, the Times quotes unnamed American officials as representing, “could expose the source of the information and the manner in which it was collected.”
And what a contrast to, say, 2006, when the Gray Lady thumbed its nose for news at President Bush’s pleadings that the paper refrain from disclosing that the government, in its hunt for terrorists, was mining data of the Swift banking consortium. The Bush administration had begged the Times not to proceed. Yet it did so. President Bush called it “disgraceful,” adding that the “fact that a newspaper disclosed it makes it harder to win this war on terror.”
It was only three years ago that the Washington Post won the Pulitzer Gold Medal for what it called “a series of stories that exposed the National Security Agency’s massive global surveillance programs.” It had based its articles on what it called “classified documents leaked by Edward Snowden, the former government contractor who has fled to exile in Russia.” The Swift story and the NSA scoops were but two examples of the press taking a hard line in respect of the public’s so-called right to know.
Fair enough, we say. The Sun is in the camp that reckons newspaper proprietors are sovereign. But it takes some brass to suggest that while publishers are entitled to use their judgment in respect of what to disclose, the president of America is not entitled to exercise his judgment. Particularly when even the Times is marking that whatever disclosure Mr. Trump made to Mr. Kislyak “does not appear to have been illegal.” The president, it reports, “has the power to declassify almost anything.”
The administration, incidentally, denies that any breach of secrecy occurred in the parley inside the White House. Then again, this latest contretemps isn’t about classified information at all. Rather it’s but another step in the long campaign by the Democratic Party press to undercut the results of the 2016 election, when thirty states sent to the Electoral College delegates committed to Mr. Trump. He’s more than earned the mandate to treat with foreign leaders on the basis he thinks prudent.