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You Go, Barney

Like eveyone who saw the incredible film "The Killing Fields"  I will forever have a reservoir of respect for Sam Waterston...I mean Syndney Schanberg, who is currently writing the Village Voice's famous "Press Clips" column.

But Schanberg's new column  critical of New York Times public editor Byron "Barney" Calame -- who wrote a Jan. 1. column trying to hold Times executives to account for their long delay in publishing the domestic spying bombshell -- is a bit-wrongheaded. Sure, Schanberg has a point in saying the overarching issue is the administration's abuse of power and that the Times is already under assault from so many quarters that it doesn't need Calame piling on by playing internal affairs cop.

But as a former ombudsman, I beg to differ. Calame is not a political columnist or a national security reporter. His job is to represent readers' interests and hold the paper accountable for what it does. (Let's face it, news organizations aren't exactly the most transparent institutions.) Calame needs to do that job without thinking of the broader social/cultural/political implications and he did so -- even if the Times bosses stonewalled him anyway. Schanberg should understand that.

In any event, it looks like the American people are getting the point anyway. This new poll indicates that a pretty solid majority of Americans don't approve of warrantless spying -- even in this 24/7 "war on terror" era.

 

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