Wednesday, June 28, 2006

NY Times led the charge

Tom Roeser asked me why I (and much of the conservative blogosphere) was singling out the New York Times for criticism in the disclosure of a secret program to track terrorists through international banking records.

It's simple: The Times published first and everyone else followed -- as this interview with L.A. Times Washington bureau chief Doyle McManus illustrates. Once the NY Times publishes a story like this, there is barely, if any, additional harm by other papers' publication. The secret already is bouncing around the world.

The New York Times is to the national media food chain what the Chicago Tribune is to the Illinois media food chain. When it print a story, everybody follows. The biggest carrier is the Associated Press. The AP national wire automatically picks up a substantial New York Times story just as the AP state wire always picks up big Chicago Tribune stories. Once it's on the wire, most newspapers in the country or state pick it up. AP does not pick up other papers' stories as regularly.

The Democratic leakers in the national government usually go to the New York Times first with their anti-Bush administration stories because that's where they will get the widest and most sympathetic play.

After the fact, the LA Times was saying it was leaning toward publishing the international banking story before the NY Times story, but that sounds like newspaper bravado to me. I doubt the LA Times would have run it first.

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