The Corner

Give Me a Break

Andrew Sullivan is casting himself as the pastor Niemoller of the blogosphere again:

We couldn’t even get a law passed forbidding the CIA from using torture. And what I find remarkable is that interrogatory abuse is now taken for granted, even by defenders of the administration. Here’s Jonah Goldberg today:

But what on earth was gained by Newsweek’s decision to publish the story — whether it was true or not? Were we unaware that interrogators at Gitmo aren’t playing bean bag with detainees?

No we were not unaware. We were just looking the other way. So yesterday’s outrage becomes today’s world-weary assumption. This is how liberty dies – with scattered, knee-jerk applause.

Me: This is nonsense. The level of censorship — official and self-imposed — during the war on terror is a fraction of a fraction of what was routine during World War Two. Today we have silly debates about whether journalists should wear tiny flags on their lapels. During WWII, Walter Cronkite wore a military uniform while reporting the news (and gladly subjected his reports to censorship). Did liberty die to the tune of scattered, knee-jerk applause then?

Post-9/11 David Westin, the president of ABC News, openly pondered — at a journalism school! — whether butchering passengers with box-cutters on civilian aircraft in order to attack the Pentagon was legitimate. “As a journalist,” he righteously intoned, “I feel strongly that’s something that I should not be taking a position on.”

Meanwhile, as I mentioned this morning, liberty is spreading, to the knee-jerk yawns of a world-weary establishment press.

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