Sunday, June 09, 2013

Washington Post backs away from its PRISM story

In Britain it was the Guardian that broke the PRISM story. But, while we liberals have been getting outraged and William Hague has been telling us that if we have done nothing wrong we have nothing to hide, strange things have been happening in America.

There the story was broken by the Washington Post and, reports Ed Bott, odd things have been happening to its coverage:
And then a funny thing happened the next morning. If you followed the link to that story, you found a completely different story, nearly twice as long, with a slightly different headline. The new story wasn’t just expanded; it had been stripped of key details, with no acknowledgment of the changes. That updated version, time-stamped at 8:51 AM on June 7, backed off from key details in the original story. 
Crucially, the Post removed the “knowingly participated” language and also scrubbed a reference to the program as being “highly classified.” In addition, a detail in the opening graf that claimed the NSA could “track a person’s movements and contacts over time” was changed to read simply “track foreign targets.”
Bott goes on to suggest that the Post took a leaked PowerPoint presentation from a single anonymous source and rushed to publication because it was afraid that other publications would get the story too:
The Post compounded its error by quietly correcting its story and not publicly acknowledging that there were errors in the original story. In fact, the revised story still claims the NSA and the FBI are “tapping directly into the central servers” of those companies when that allegation no longer appears to be true. 
In short, one of the great journalistic institutions of the 20th Century is now engaged in outright click-baiting, following the same “publish first, fact-check later” rules as its newer online competitors.

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