NY Times Doesn't Think That NSA Sharing Raw Communications With Israel Is Newsworthy

from the really-now? dept

Last week, we were among those who wrote about the latest revelations via the Guardian about how the NSA was sharing raw communications it had collected with Israeli intelligence. This is a big story for any number of reasons, but apparently the NY Times doesn’t think so. When Public Editor Margaret Sullivan asked why, the managing editor basically said the story wasn’t newsworthy:

He told me that The Times had chosen not to follow the story because its level of significance did not demand it.

“I didn’t think it was a significant or surprising story,” he said. “I think the more energy we put into chasing the small ones, the less time we have to break our own. Not to mention cover the turmoil in Syria.”

So, I asked him, by e-mail, was this essentially a question of reporting resources? After all, The Times could have published an article written by a wire service, like Reuters or The Associated Press.

“I’d say resources and news judgment,” he responded.

The resources issue is one I can understand totally. Here at Techdirt, we probably cover about one quarter to one third the number of stories we’d like to (which is also why I have about a thousand open tabs of stories I’m “hoping” to get to one of these days). But to claim that it’s not “significant” or “surprising” or somehow newsworthy is pretty crazy. This is a major part of the story — where the NSA keeps insisting that it is exceptionally careful with the data it collects, yet here it is handing off a ton of communications, including those of Americans, off to a foreign intelligence agency with basically no oversight. If the NY Times doesn’t think that’s newsworthy, the NY Times needs to recalibrate its newsworthy scale.

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Comments on “NY Times Doesn't Think That NSA Sharing Raw Communications With Israel Is Newsworthy”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The New York Times is under the control of the financial schemers who run New York. As a result, they are suffering from blind spots. Do not expect honest reporting from the NYT on any of the following subjects:

(1) How financial scams work.

(2) The consequences for the public of financial scams, past or present.

(3) The identity of financial scammers, past or present.

(4) Anything to do with Israel or the religion of Judaism.

(5) Anything to do with surveillance or holding politicians accountable for the lack of oversight of said surveillance.

In general, the NYT is a gutter rag not worth buying.

MondoGordo (profile) says:

if it bleeds it leads ...

notice how Egypt dropped off the mainstream media the second that Syria was accused of crossing the “red” line of using chemical weapons?

The lack of any oversight on the use of data collected by the NSA isn’t news any more … it’s just information now.

The NYT knows it’s important to share this info with the… Squirrel!!

That One Guy (profile) says:

Need to work on those priorities...

Conflict in country clear across the world that will only affect or be significant to americans if the USG decides to intervene: Very important, must cover.

NSA sharing personal data wholesale to other countries, without any of that ‘oversight’ they keep claiming they have to justify their actions, something that very much affects americans: Eh, not that important.

Anonymous Coward says:

Why the government hates bloggers...

This is why various politicians want to only protect journalists that are paid. They figure that if it costs money to write stories, then only the stories they want published are likely to be published – as they can overload the media with stuff to write about while the important shit gets quietly ignored because it’s not newsworthy enough to make money on.

Bloggers, on the other hand, tend to write about stories that interest them, not what makes them money.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Let me FTFY...

?After the Government sources told me I didn?t think it was a significant or surprising story,? he said. ?I think the more energy we put into chasing the small ones, the less time we have to break our own that the Government clears us to break. Not to mention cover the turmoil in Syria, because it takes much effort to call out a dictatorship with an awful record on civil rights and ignore the elephant in the room at home.?

out_of_the_blue says:

Yeah, that's the answer you'd give me about Google.*

It’s only the biggest mega-corporation on the internet — on what percentage of sites? how many billions revenue? paying what LOW percentage in taxes? — but no mention here.

Anyhoo, this blurb really is standard, not “a significant or surprising story,? It’s only a mistaken notion that such organizations don’t have obvious agendas that even puts such evasions in the place of actual news on other sites.

[* IF you ever answered me. This is just to forestall your little passive-aggressive stock phrase. — Nor do I complain: so long as can post what I want, it’s fine with me.]

Anonymous Coward says:

NY Times had a great article about NSA subverting encryption standards. I wonder if there was some government blow-back after they ran that story?

The most significant thing about the NSA performing espionage for the Israelis, against law-abiding American citizens, is the fact there is no formal spying agreement between these two countries.

At least there’s an agreement enforceable by law with countries who participate in “Five Eyes”. We have no such formal agreement with Israel, so the NSA handing over raw data on law-abiding citizens, the President, Congress, and Judicial system; appears to be illegal espionage and treason.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Well, there is something to be said about news saturation on a topic: If you keep beating the same horse for too long it will eventually drive away the more casual readers.

It appears that TNYT wants to avoid having this subject fatique. If they think leaks will keep on coming for the next year, there is certainly something to be said for that.
But as long as they choose not to publish something, you always have to wonder if it is really the right thing to cut.
If it is to hurt the debate after having a good cup of coffee with NSA it is very worrying, but I would rather give the devil the benefit of the doubt…

Anonymous Coward says:

Outsourcing spy material to Israel so they can do what the NSA can’t with the information is not news worthy? what is then?

The detail, the NSA was careful to carve out certain parts that Israel should not touch like the judiciary and congress to not attract the ire of politico class.

Is like surrendering prisoners to other countries so they can be tortured.

“We don’t spy on Americans, we just give the raw data to another country so they do it for us”


Anonymous Coward says:

You do realize that Snowden did not pick the NYT as one of the responsible media outlets to give his information to don’t you? It’s already admitted to sitting on a story for over a year because the government asked it to.

Then you have to realize that NTY is the unofficial, official spreader of government propaganda when ever the Obama administration needs something that makes them look good leaked to the news. By actually publishing items that really make them look bad, they will put in jeopardy getting all those juicy leaks.

NYT is no longer a MSM to trust to have just the news as it’s core value.

Wolfy says:

Why is everyone afraid of the elephant in the room? I guess being the resident atheist, it’s up to me.

Would it be a stretch to suppose the majority of the folks working at the NYT are of jewish extraction?

Would it be a further stretch to suggest that a majority of those jewish people who work at the NYT, are supportive of israel?

There might lie the explanation as to why the NYT is reluctant to draw attention to this information sharing.

On that note, I fail, upon a casual perusal of the US Constitution, to find any mention of the US’s seeming obligation to do every tiny bit of Israel’s’ bidding.

I seem to recall US arming Israel, SO WE DIDN’T HAVE TO GO OVER THERE. Anyone else remember that rationale being pedaled? That was about the same time a bunch of fissile material “went missing” from US stockpiles.

I am truly sorry for anyone who didn’t choose their religion. That usually means they were brainwashed from birth. The people from the middle east have major issues with this crap. We should have thought twice before embracing either of the “two idiots from the middle east” in any way. Now we’re caught up in their religious squabbles…. that just happen to involve hundreds, if not thousands of deaths, and streets awash with blood.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Why is everyone afraid of the elephant in the room? I guess being the resident atheist, it’s up to me.

No one’s afraid of the elephant in the room, because it’s not there.

Would it be a stretch to suppose the majority of the folks working at the NYT are of jewish extraction?

Yes, it would be a stretch. It’s not true.

Would it be a further stretch to suggest that a majority of those jewish people who work at the NYT, are supportive of israel?

Well, you’re already on thin ground….

There might lie the explanation as to why the NYT is reluctant to draw attention to this information sharing.

Except… no. The NY Times regularly publishes all sorts of stories about Israel, many of them critical. Three seconds of searching reveals the following stories in just the past few weeks:


So, you can drop the stupid conspiracy theory. It’s not true.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Religious nutcases are everywhere.

Speculation, even if it’s broad is just speculation. His “stupid conspiracy” is just as “stupid” as you saying “it’s not true” which is in itself a conspiracy. Even if it’s more likely and comes from a more informed opinion.

Fact: Both of you don’t know why… so speculation is foolish. If I were to speculate along with yous… I would be on your side. But we could be wrong.

Also it’s not his fault if he comes over as a bit anti-semetic. The right wing Israeli politicians of today claim any criticism of Zionism is actually anti-semitic. That means that Jews are grouped together with Zionists and are seen as the same, especially to non-religions people and others who do not know enough about the reality. You can’t ignore the fact that there are religious people who believe that the state of Israel should be accepted no matter where it draws it’s borders. It’s seen to be their god given right to do so. You also can’t ignore that people with religious beliefs publish slanted material to further their religious agenda. Think the Christian right wing and their anti-abortion, anti-gay views.

Point being that all extremist religious people are fucking crazy and they are everywhere.
You have them in politics, like a large number of American Republicans.
You have them in schools ignoring science and teaching creationism etc…
You have them in media… ?

It really isn’t a stretch to think that a person making the important editorial decisions could be a religious nutcase.
You could also find several pro-Israel pieces written in the NYT to “prove the inverse” of your points with linked “proof”.

I still probably think you are right btw…
However, I do think you could try to understand why he said that rather than outright dismiss it as somehow being anti-semetic. He already claimed to be atheist which usually means that he judges all religions equally. That gives being anti-semetic a rather weak level of status. Disregarding all religions as nonsense and seeing their nutcase actions in the name of their religion for what they are is not a specific “hate towards a certain religion”. It’s a general view of “religiousness is retarded” “is there nothing they wouldn’t do in the name of their religion.”

It doesn’t appear that his speculation was because of “hate for Jews”, rather it’s a relevant and justified mistrust of religions for acting the way they have acted before.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Religious nutcases are everywhere.

Yeah, I inferred it from “Well, you’re already on thin ground….” and the whole context of his [NYT = Jews = Pro Israel = Not publish] speculation.
In this instance I assumed it was “you’re on thin ground” as in “you’re out of order”… not “your argument is weak”

I assumed. I was wrong. Sorry.
In my defence it did appear to be heading that way. I too, am/was on the verge of thinking he was pretty anti-semetic.
You did mean his theory was falling apart or similar?

Text can be a difficult medium to convey meaning at times. Especially when abstractions are concerned, like ““you’re already on thin ground” . Usually the tone of voice and facial expression would convey what was really meant in that situation. Emphasis on “you’re” or is it “on thin ground”. Pertains to “you” or is it “your thing”.

Again.. I was wrong. I should have just asked rather than assume. Am I on thin ground now ? 🙂

Josh says:

Re: Re: Re:

That is David Brooks of the New York Times who’s recent book about “the chosen” is pretty clear about his racial supremacy attitude! Oh wait-the got are not suppose to look at that stuff!? Sorry Jewish fella-NYT definitely censors the sins of the tribe that controls them. The goy are waking up to the “if you keep telling a lie, eventually people will believe it” philosophy of the Jews!

velox (profile) says:

news is to "newsworthiness" like truth is to "truthiness"

The crime: Spy on America and give the info to the Israelis.

In case you forgot: A guy named Jonathan Pollard is spending life in prison for doing that.

And in case you wondered: The NYT has reported on, or at least published a mention of Pollard’s crime on more than 250 occasions during the past ~25 years.

techdirt_user (profile) says:


Seems to fit in with this YouTube video: http://tinyurl.com/q7q82h2

US Journalist and activist Alexa O’Brien and Australian commentator Robert Manne are joined by video conference with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, Guardian Journalist Glenn Greenwald and Chelsea Manning’s Lawyer David Coombs on stage at the Sydney Opera House (moderated by Bernard Keane of Crikey).

Mike L says:


Endless wars for Israel, yet another violation of our rights. The gov?t constantly violates our rights.

They violate the 1st Amendment by caging protesters and banning books like “America Deceived II”.

They violate the 4th and 5th Amendment by allowing TSA to grope you.

They violate the entire Constitution by starting undeclared wars.

Impeach Obama.

Last link of “America Deceived II” before it is completely banned:


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