Journalism and the morality of deception, continued.

Margaret Sullivan defends the NYT’s decision to (finally) report on the existence of a secret US drone base:

Given the government’s undue secrecy about the drone program, which it has never officially acknowledged the existence of, and that program’s great significance to America’s foreign policy, its national security, and its influence on the tumultuous Middle East, The Times ought to be reporting as much and as aggressively as possible on it.

Agreed. But I am worried by Sullivan’s confession that The Times has known about the existence of the base for a while, but deliberately withheld this information from its readers. So now we cannot be sure that when we read The Times, we are reading the whole truth about the world as understood by the paper’s reporters. That helps neither transparency nor trust – two great social goods. And it’s worth wondering if jeopardising them can be justified here in the name of national security. If the arguments in my vacation essay work, the answer is no, and The Times should have released this information immediately in defiance of the CIA. That is all that the journalist’s job rightly demands them to do.

Previous post on journalism and deception here.


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