Timing the Times

TIMING THE TIMES….Last Friday, while I was visiting the Washington Monthly offices, my colleague Amy Sullivan got a call from the Joe Scarborough show asking her to join them to discuss the NSA bugging story the New York Times had just run. Specifically, Scarborough was apparently convinced that the Times had deliberately chosen to run the story on Friday in order to ruin the otherwise good news about the Iraqi elections, and wanted to chat about that.

I just laughed and told Amy to enjoy herself. It seemed like the kind of twist only a real wingnut could come up with. The liberal media is always against us!

Today, though, we learned just how wildly wrong Scarborough was:

The initial Times statements did not say that the paper’s internal debate began before the Nov. 2, 2004, presidential election ? in which Iraq and national security questions loomed large….

But two journalists, who declined to be identified, said that editors at the paper were actively considering running the story about the wiretaps before Bush’s November showdown with Democratic Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts.

So not only was the timing not intended to hurt Bush, it’s far more likely that the timing helped him considerably. After all, if this firestorm had been made public before the election, do you think a hundred thousand people in Ohio might have decided to change their votes?

Brendan Nyhan has more on the subject.