The NY Times and allegations of treason
New York Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger kind of has a point when he says that it “crosses a dangerous line” for President Trump to accuse his paper of “a virtual act of treason” because it’s a crime “so grave it is punishable by death.”The writers at the Times bought into the Russian collusion hoax, probably because of their own animus toward the President. The President was arguing on the basis of the Times revealing a national security secret about an operation against the Russians. There is no doubt that the NY Times did so and no doubt that the matter revealed was a top secret. Have any of those writers at the NY Times apologized for falsely accusing the President of treason? Not to my knowledge.
On the same grounds, Sulzberger should probably evaluate what’s going into his own paper.
Three of the Times’ own columnists have now accused Trump of treason. Last July, the paper published a column by Charles Blow, “Trump, Treasonous Traitor.” To really drive home that biting use of alliteration, Blow incoherently closed out the piece writing, “Trump is a traitor and may well be treasonous.”
The Times’ Michelle Goldberg did the same thing that same month. In an appearance on MSNBC, she said that Trump conducted himself in a way that was “potentially treasonous.”
And still that month, Thomas Friedman wrote, “There is overwhelming evidence that our president, for the first time in our history, is deliberately or through gross negligence or because of his own twisted personality engaged in treasonous behavior…”
Fine — that’s the Bill of Rights in action. All political speech is fair under the First Amendment. That covers the president, too. But Sulzberger’s real complaint isn’t that Trump isn’t fighting fair. It’s that he’s fighting at all.
“There is no more serious charge a commander in chief can make against an independent news organization,” Sulzberger wrote Wednesday in the Wall Street Journal. Coincidentally, he said nothing about whether there’s a more serious charge the writers at a news organization can make against a president.
You can believe that the president, no matter who, should have his hands tied. But as it stands right now, the First Amendment kind of cuts both ways.