The case for a secrecy beat

Editorial from Columbia Journalism Review:  Despite the recent blockbuster leaks about spying on the phone records of millions of Americans, and President Obama’s stated willingness to discuss the issues they raise, a front-page New York Times article on Tuesday asserted that “legal and political obstacles” make a vigorous public debate about surveillance and civil liberties highly unlikely.

Scott Shane and Jonathan Weisman of the Times made a solid case that neither the executive nor legislative branches—and neither Democratic nor Republican leaders—show real interest in disclosing anything more about the programs. As for the president, they noted that his record on national security disclosures belies any commitment to transparency.

But the Times story disregarded another possible influence: The media itself.