New York Times reporter Scott Shane defended his paper's reporting after a major piece about the highly controversial drone killing of American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki came under criticism on Sunday.
Shane spoke to "Democracy Now" host Amy Goodman about the article, which tracked the decision-making process behind the Obama administration's move to kill Awlaki in Yemen. Judging from the sourcing, Shane and two other Times reporters largely crafted their narrative from government officials -- a feature of the story that irked the paper's critics. Among them were Guardian blogger Glenn Greenwald, who called the piece "standard government stenography," and writer Marcy Wheeler, who said it was "irresponsibly credulous."
Goodman also read Shane a statement by the ACLU and the Center For Constitutional Rights:
"This is the latest in a series of one-sided, selective disclosures that prevent meaningful public debate and legal or even political accountability for the government's killing program, including its use against citizens. Government officials have made serious allegations against Anwar al-Awlaki, but allegations are not evidence, and the whole point of the Constitution's due process clause is that a court must distinguish between the two."
In response, Shane said that the Times was not defending the administration.
"I think that press release is a little, perhaps, imaginative in suggesting that the story was defending the administration," he said. "In actual fact, the White House wouldn't talk to us either on or off the record, and we got the information that we could, you know, where we could get it. You know, as the story says, it raises questions about the claims of the administration that this targeted killing program has been precise and very careful in who it targets and who it kills."
"Democracy Now" also spoke to Jesselyn Raddack, a government whistleblower who has been strongly critical of the Obama administration.
"The New York Times, here again, gives a platform to the government to justify why it killed three U.S. citizens without charge, counsel or judicial review," she said. "And while Scott just talked about how the article is committed to transparency and neutrality, the article actually picks up a storyline only recently floated by the government, that Awlaki was operational rather than a mere propagandist ... So I feel like The New York Times has been carrying the government's water in picking up its argument and, again, trying to make the case ex post facto that it was OK to kill Awlaki because he was somehow operational."
To see more of the debate, click on the video above.