Revolution #53, July 16, 2006

The Right-Wing Assault on the New York Times

A major, very serious, and significant right-wing assault has been unleashed against the New York Times, a key pillar of the liberal imperialist establishment, and a frequent critic of Bush Administration policies.

This fascistic firestorm was unleashed after the Times published, against the Bush Administration’s wishes, a June 22 story revealing a secret government program, nicknamed Swift, which gave U.S. officials “access to financial records from a vast international database and examined banking transactions involving thousands of Americans and others in the United States.” According to the Times, the Bush administration claimed that the program was limited to “tracing transactions of people suspected of ties to Al Qaeda,” the same claim it made before it was revealed the Bush regime was monitoring tens of millions of U.S. phone calls. As the Times also pointed out, this program, like other Bush spying programs, “doesn’t seem to have any specific Congressional approval or formal authorization.”

President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Republican officials and a whole slew of right-wing pundits have singled out the NY Times for criticism.

Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning called for a treason investigation against The Times. Rightwing radio host Glenn Beck claimed the Times was "fighting for the same thing that al-Qaida wants." Rush Limbaugh proclaimed the Times was "trying to help the jihadists." Newt Gingrich said of the paper, "They hate George W. Bush so much that they would be prepared to cripple America in order to go after the president."

On June 30, the Wall Street Journal editorialized, “On issue after issue, it has become clear that the Times believes the U.S. is not really at war, and in any case the Bush Administration lacks the legitimacy to wage it.” NY Times columnist Frank Rich (“All the News That’s Fit to Bully,” July 9, 2006) reported that California radio talk-show host Melanie Morgan said the Times was guilty of treason and called for its editor, Bill Keller, to be sent to the gas chamber.

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman considers this right-wing assault part and parcel of the Bush regime’s drive to crush any and all opposition and create and “authoritarian” state. In “The Treason Card” (July 7, 2006), Krugman wrote:

“Over the last few months a series of revelations have confirmed what should have been obvious a long time ago: the Bush administration and the movement it leads have been engaged in an authoritarian project, an effort to remove all the checks and balances that have heretofore constrained the executive branch.

“Much of this project involves the assertion of unprecedented executive authority—the right to imprison people indefinitely without charges (and torture them if the administration feels like it), the right to wiretap American citizens without court authorization, the right to declare, when signing laws passed by Congress, that the laws don’t really mean what they say.

“But an almost equally important aspect of the project has been the attempt to create a political environment in which nobody dares to criticize the administration or reveal inconvenient facts about its actions. And that attempt has relied, from the beginning, on ascribing treasonous motives to those who refuse to toe the line.”

Krugman notes that the attack on the Times “seems to have startled many people in the news media,” and that “somehow, nobody seems to find calls to send Bill Keller to the gas chamber funny.” He notes growing public anger and distrust of Bush and company, and hopes that “while the White House clearly believes that attacking The Times is a winning political move, it doesn’t have to turn out that way—not if enough people realize what’s at stake.”

Indeed, people should realize the seriousness of what is taking place. As the World Can’t Wait call states: “The Bush regime is setting out to radically remake society very quickly, in a fascist way, and for generations to come.”

We must act now. The future is in the balance.

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