By Christopher B. Daly
The use of unmanned drones may be a good thing or a bad thing (or, of course, something more complicated). Because that’s the case, the United States needs to conduct a big, loud debate about them — in hearings, in editorials and blogs, in speeches, in debates, on the airwaves, and online. After that, we need to have some elections that will clarify where the people stand.
None of that can happen, of course, if the whole program is a big secret. That is a point being made by a rising chorus of voices. The NYTimes Public Editor, Margaret Sullivan, is stressing it.
And today, NYT media columnist David Carr joins the crowd.
Carr’s column refers to a recent study by Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy. If ever there was an issue involving press, politics and public policy, the drone campaign is it. And the report, by Tara McKelvey, is a great primer on the whole issue and the coverage thereof.
Under the Obama administration, the targeted-killing program has
become the centerpiece of U.S. counterterrorism strategy. The Obama White House
program of targeted killing is unprecedented in its mission and scope; moreover, the
administration’s approach to fighting terrorists is likely to be adopted by presidents in
the future, whether Democratic or Republican. For these reasons, it makes sense to
examine the role of media in the public debate about the program and moreover to see
how journalists have fared in their efforts to cover the story of the targeted-killing