Bush or the media? You be the judge.

“For people to leak that program and for a newspaper to publish it does great harm to the United States of America.” So sayeth President George W. Bush about The New York Times’ recent revelation of a formerly secret government program to track international cash transfers of suspected terrorists through the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, (or SWIFT program), a Belgium-based consortium of more than 7,900 financial institutions in some 200 countries.

New York Times executive editor Bill Keller had this to say in defense of the Times publishing the story: “It’s worth mentioning that the reporters and editors responsible for this story live in two places—New York and the Washington area—that are tragically established targets for terrorist violence. The question of preventing terror is not abstract to us.”

Gee, you’d think they were all in a foxhole in Iraq.

Dean Baquet, editor of The Los Angeles Times, which also ran the story, said, “We weighed the government’s arguments carefully, but in the end we determined that it was in the public interest to publish information about the extraordinary reach of this program. It is part of the continuing national debate over the aggressive measures employed by the government.”

Everyone clear here? If it’s in the “public interests,” it’s OK to print. Before I get nauseous watching the media wrap itself in the First Amendment, perhaps they can tell us when they are actually going to investigate some nefarious terrorist plot to blow something up? Instead they continue to trash the country and try to make nice with terrorists. Between the Democrats who love nothing more than to leak information to the media and the media who apparently love terrorists so much that they actually print this stuff, it’s amazing we aren’t all speaking Arabic by now.

And, happily, I’m not the only person making this assessment.

I happened upon a Harris poll (actually several of them at www.harrisinteractive.com) where I discovered this:

The pollsters asked this question: “As far as people in charge of running (READ EACH ITEM) are concerned, would you say you have a great deal of confidence, only some confidence, or hardly any confidence at all in them?”

People had the greatest confidence in the military, which clocked in at 47 percent.

When it came to the White House, that figure was 25 percent—historic low, as the almighty media keeps telling us. Of course, what news outlets fail to mention was that when it came to “the press” only 14 percent of people felt “a great deal of confidence.” (Also historical low.) Only “big business,” unions, Congress and law firms faired worse—which isn’t saying much.

It gets really interesting when you look at some recent history. Between 2001 and 2006, the White House started at 21 percent, peaked at 50 percent and then dropped steadily to its current 25 percent.

Contrast this to the previous administration between 1992-2000. Bill Clinton’s White House started at an all-time high of 25 percent, and then dropped to an all-time low of 13 percent in 1995. When he left the White House that number was 21 percent. So while people’s confidence in Bush’s White House may be at a low, that number is equal to Bill Clinton’s all-time high.

Perhaps this explains the media’s deluded thinking. When the same polls look at people’s confidence in the press during the same time periods, that number has vacillated from 13 percent to 16 percent and rests at 14 percent, as of the most recent poll.

Tell me again why Bush is wrong, and the Times is right?