THE DIVE THEY DIDN'T NEED TO TAKE.

THE DIVE THEY DIDN'T NEED TO TAKE. Over the weekend, there was some more dust kicked up about the decisions that The New York Times made concerning the timing of the publication of its groundbreaking story regarding the administration's domestic surveillance program. Editor And Publisher pretty much argues here that the Times took a dive so as not to affect the outcome of the election. Now, I happen to think that's one of the worst excuses short of bribery for holding a story. If you think you've unearthed news to which people have a right, then you're supposed to affect the election. People have no greater right to any news than they have to that news which informs their choice as to who will lead them.

That said, however, I have to admit that I don't think the outcome of the election would have changed worth a damn if the Times had published what it had when it first had it. I regretfully concluded a while ago that the Bill of Rights has no constituency in this country any more, and the debate that's arisen since the Times finally got around to publishing the story hasn't made me any more sanguine. At best, the Kerry campaign would have bungled the issue. At worst, the Kerry campaign would have kept silent, probably because President Kerry would want that same power for himself. (Nobody runs for president on a platform of weakening the office vis a vis the Congress, although these days I'd vote for someone who did.) At the absolutely most appalling, the Republicans would have used it in a commercial, probably with wolves wearing earphones.

--Charles P. Pierce

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