The Real Story in the NSA Scandal Is the Collapse of Journalism
The story alleges that the NSA is “reaching deep inside the machinery of American companies that host hundreds of millions of American-held accounts on American soil.” It specifically names nine companies: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple. And the story alleges, “From inside a company’s data stream the NSA is capable of pulling out anything it likes.”
Within hours after the story broke, it had been amplified by other news agencies and tech websites and had inspired expressions of outrage over this invasion of privacy. And seven of the nine companies named issued categorical denials that they knew of or participated in any such program.
And then a funny thing happened the next morning. If you followed the link to that story, you found a completely different story, nearly twice as long, with a slightly different headline. The new story wasn’t just expanded; it had been stripped of key details, with no acknowledgment of the changes. That updated version, time-stamped at 8:51 AM on June 7, backed off from key details in the original story.
Crucially, the Post removed the “knowingly participated” language and also scrubbed a reference to the program as being “highly classified.” In addition, a detail in the opening graf that claimed the NSA could “track a person’s movements and contacts over time” was changed to read simply “track foreign targets.”