The New York Times editorial board has quietly changed the language in the most widely cited line from Thursday’s scathing editorial about the Obama administration’s surveillance of U.S. citizens.
The line — “The administration has now lost all credibility” — was changed Thursday night to read, “The administration has now lost all credibility on this issue.” No correction or explanatory note was appended.
“The change was for clarity’s sake,” Andrew Rosenthal, the Times editorial page editor, told POLITICO on Friday morning. “It was clear from the context of the editorial that the issue of credibility related to this subject and the final edit of the piece strengthened that point.”
The “issue” in question is the Obama administrations’ oft-repeated claim that an overreach of power — from secret orders to kill an American suspected of terrorism to the subpoenas of reporters phone records to the collection of Americans’ phone and now Internet data — is required in order to keep Americans safe.
To the Times’ critics, and to Obama’s, the change may seem like an attempt to soften the blow. It shouldn’t: The Times is still unequivocal in its condemnation of the president’s abuse of his executive power. That is the important point, and it remains unchanged.