So fulminated conservative propagandist Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center last week. His statement was part of an anti-Times frenzy whipped up by Republican strategists, then echoed ad nauseam by Pavlovian talk shows and blogs.
For these folks, bashing the Times (and journalists generally) is a hobby.
This time, though, the rhetoric has ratcheted up beyond reason: accusing Keller of a heinous crime, treason. One talk-show host talked of sending the editor to the gas chamber.
What's amazing about Bozell's statement is that he sent it to hundreds of journalists' in-boxes, even though it is so blatantly false.
Here's what Keller and Los Angeles Times editor Dean Baquet actually wrote jointly in their papers July 1:
"Make no mistake, journalists have a large and personal stake in the country's security. We live and work in cities that have been tragically marked as terrorist targets. Reporters and photographers from both our papers braved the collapsing towers to convey the horror to the world.
"We have correspondents today alongside troops on the front lines in Iraq. . . . We, and the people who work for us, are not neutral in the struggle against terrorism."
The meaning is clear: Journalists - who thrive and matter in free societies, but are prosecuted and vanish in authoritarian ones - do not want Islamofascism to triumph.
The controversy is not really about that, but this: how best to ensure that America endures as a nation upholding liberty and free speech.
Should we have a government of secrets, surveillance and fear-mongering, one that Vladimir Putin could love? Or a government that tells its citizens most of what it is up to and stands ready to be held accountable for its deeds, one James Madison would applaud?
OK. That's strong. Reasonable people who revere the Constitution can disagree about how many limits on civil liberties are justified by the terrorist threat, or where the boundaries of executive power should be set post-9/11. Someone who is worried by the warrantless National Security Agency snooping into Americans' calls and e-mail (exposed by the Times last year) might have less problem with the feds' just-revealed mining of overseas bank data.
But how can citizens of a democracy debate such principles and nuances if they have no clue what their government is doing in their name? If it were up to President Bush and Vice President Cheney, you would know nothing about flaws in WMD intelligence, torture in American-run prisons or NSA snooping. Journalists exposed all that.
Absolutely, without a doubt, journalists should not print some things they might dig up, if doing so would clearly jeopardize lives. As Keller and Baquet wrote, newspapers sometimes do decide not to publish what they know, for that reason.
But it is in the nature of political power to overreach, then seek to hide its sins behind the shield of national security. That is a bipartisan habit, but this administration has a severe case.
Here's another key point: Despite the screeching in the partisan blogosphere, these stories endangered no lives. They did not tell al-Qaeda anything it didn't already know. Richard A. Clarke, who led counterterrorism efforts for several presidents, confirms that point.
Indeed, when it suited its mood, this administration has trumpeted its efforts to pierce terrorists' financial networks. The Times story actually reinforced a message the United States wants to send al-Qaeda: The swift, global ease of electronic banking is closed to you now. To move money, you must use slow, awkward means.
Given all that, why this sudden, fierce assault on journalists?
For an answer, look not to Baghdad but to Gallup.
The polls portend a rough Election Day for Republicans in November. Being held accountable by voters for incompetence, arrogance, abuse of power, and greed is a scary prospect.
The Karl Rove playbook for political jams advises: "Hype a villain to distract voters with fear."
Can't use Osama anymore, because that would remind voters he's still a free man, as the Taliban rebound.
Can't use Saddam.
Can't use that hardy standby, "tax and spend" liberals; the GOP for years now has run the deficit-ridden, spendaholic show in Washington.
Can't just blame "liberal media" bias, not when Fox News is No. 1 and Ann Coulter tops best-seller lists. So, up the ante: "Bill Keller is a traitor."
This is false. This is mean. This is reckless and over the line.
It should be denounced by any American who prizes the First Amendment and the ideals of civil, democratic discourse.