A decade ago, the New York Times prepared the first, breaking story about warrantless domestic surveillance in America. But, at the Bush administration's urging, it delayed publication until after the next election. NYT public editor Margaret Sullivan reviews the ongoing sense of betrayal felt by its readers, and how it made the newspaper an unappealing port of call for whistleblowing sources such as Edward Snowden.
[Washington bureau chief Philip] Taubman remembers his fateful recommendation not to publish as "an agonizing one." He dismisses any role played by his relationships with members of the Bush administration, including Condoleezza Rice, with whom he shares longstanding and close ties to Stanford University (where they both now teach). As national security adviser in 2004 and secretary of state in 2005, she opposed the article's publication, he said. But "that did not affect my thinking," which was that national security would be harmed by publication.
And here's Bill Keller, then-executive editor of the NYT:
"Three years after 9/11, we, as a country, were still under the influence of that trauma, and we, as a newspaper, were not immune," Mr. Keller said. "It was not a kind of patriotic rapture. It was an acute sense that the world was a dangerous place."
Nonetheless, the story suddenly became fit to print when its reporter took it to another publisher.