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What’s More Controversial?

The NSA’s collection of phone records or the media’s exposure of classified national security programs? Dave Gerstman of Soccer Dad fame e-mails this analysis:

I found Richard Morin’s [article in today’s Washington Post] interesting:
First two paragraphs:
A majority of Americans initially support a controversial National Security Agency program to collect information on telephone calls made in the United States in an effort to identify and investigate potential terrorist threats, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.
The new survey found that 63 percent of Americans said they found the NSA program to be an acceptable way to investigate terrorism, including 44 percent who strongly endorsed the effort. Another 35 percent said the program was unacceptable, which included 24 percent who strongly objected to it.
Further down in the article we see:
By a 56 percent to 42 percent margin, Americans said it was appropriate for the news media to have disclosed the existence of this secret government program.
So getting phone numbers by the NSA is approved of by a ratio of 9 to 5 and news organizations spilling the details of secret programs is approved of by a ratio of only 4 to 3.
According to Merriam Webster ”controversy” means:
a discussion marked especially by the expression of opposing views
If “opposing views” is, by definition, what makes a controversy, isn’t the media’s spilling of state secrets more controversial than the NSA getting phone numbers? So why isn’t the modifier “controversial” used in the latter instance?

Great point. Where are all the stories about the media’s “controversial” disregard for national security?


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Illegal leaks of classified information should be treated as a serious offense. But they would be easier to prevent if less information were classified.