People take part in a protest outside the New York Times

NY Times Isn’t Sorry They Basically Doxxed Trump/Ukraine Whistleblower

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Yesterday, the New York Times published an article including enough identifying information about the Trump/Ukraine whistleblower that it appeared to potentially put that person in serious danger of being exposed. This is troubling enough on its own, but what makes it even worse is that they published the article right after audio was leaked of Trump speaking at a private event where he implied the whistleblower and those providing him with information should be executed.

“I want to know who’s the person, who’s the person who gave the whistleblower the information? Because that’s close to a spy,” he said. “You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? The spies and treason, we used to handle it a little differently than we do now.”

That sure feels like witness tampering, and it also seems to be in violation of the laws in place specifically to protect whistleblowers. It definitely should have given the New York Times pause before publishing anything that could be seen as identifying information. A whole lot of people agree with that point, too. Yesterday, #CancelNYT was trending on Twitter, and there was reportedly a multiple hours-long wait to get through to a NYT rep for people looking to cancel subscriptions.

Later on Thursday, the Times published a defense of their decision. “Many readers, including some who work in national security and intelligence, have criticized The Times’s decision to publish the details, saying it potentially put the person’s life in danger and may have a chilling effect on would-be whistle-blowers,” reads the article before letting executive editor Dean Baquet take over.

Baquet writes that the decision to publish identifying information was spurred by Trump’s attacks on the whistleblower. Trump has called that person uncredible and a “political hack job.” Baquet says they “wanted to provide information to readers that allows them to make their own judgments about whether or not he is credible.” (He also added in a later update that they “understand that the White House already knew he was a C.I.A. officer,” but it’s not clear if they knew that when they published the original article.)

Letting Trump goad the paper into publishing such an over-the-line defense is not a great argument. For one thing, Trump is still tweeting his same old BS:

The same people that saw and believed his similar tweets yesterday are going to see that tweet today and feel the exact same way. The only thing the Times accomplished with their article was to make things harder and more dangerous for this and future whistleblowers.

(image: KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.