New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan weighed in on the controversy surrounding the newspaper's negative review of Glenn Greenwald's book on Tuesday.
Writing for the "Sunday Book Review" earlier this month, Michael Kinsley panned Greenwald's book “No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State." In addition to calling Greenwald "a self-righteous sourpuss," Kinsley argued that the government should have the "final say" over which of its secrets are published.
On Tuesday, Sullivan wrote that she had received criticism from readers over the choice of Kinsley to review the book, and then took issue with his piece herself.
"A Times review ought to be a fair, accurate and well-argued consideration of the merits of a book," she wrote. "Mr. Kinsley’s piece didn’t meet that bar."
She said that there was "a lot about this piece that is unworthy of the Book Review’s high standards," but the worst offense may have been Kinsley's claim that journalists should not be able to reveal classified government information ("There shouldn’t be a special class of people called 'journalists' with privileges like publishing secret government documents," Kinsley had written).
Sullivan argued: "There clearly is a special role for the press in America’s democracy... It’s wrong to deny that role, and editors should not have allowed such a denial to stand. Mr. Kinsley’s argument is particularly strange to see advanced in the paper that heroically published the Pentagon Papers, and many of the Snowden revelations as well."