There were in fact two different headlines on the online and print versions of the article, which is typical. At no point was either headline altered. Times headlines often differ in print and online....It's still true that the NYT said "Wiretapped data used in inquiry of Trump aides." Why they changed it, who knows? Qiu refers to what is "typical" and "often" happens, yet we can't know exactly why what happened in this case happened. But it could have changed for some neutral reason. [ADDED THE NEXT MORNING: I can see I've written this confusingly, saying "changed" when Qiu's point is that nothing was ever changed. I only mean that the print headline was written and for some reason, a different/changed headline was written for the web. Qiu has taken pains to show that the web headline wasn't belatedly tweaked to eliminate the hot word "wiretapped."]
Liu writes that Trump was "misleading" to say that the Times said that "wiretap data" was "used in inquiry of Trump aides." "Misleading" is NOT the same as false, so Liu really is admitting that it was true. The reason it's misleading, according to Liu, is that the article doesn't say that "Mr. Obama ordered surveillance on him." Did Trump say Obama ordered surveillance on him? There's no Trump quote to that effect, and it makes me suspicious that Trump is being paraphrased to confine him to what can be refuted, which — talk about misleading! — feels very misleading. See:
The Times reported that there were intercepted conversations involving Mr. Trump’s associates, but it did not report that they or Mr. Trump were the subject of wiretap orders. To date, The Times has not found evidence of that.What seems to have happened is that that the official targets were other than Trump people, but that Trump people got swept in, and these people were legally entitled to protection from surveillance. Here's how Liu (misleadingly?) puts it:
American intelligence agencies typically monitor the communications of foreign officials of allied and hostile countries, and so they routinely sweep up any conversations between American citizens and those officials — called “incidental collection.”That sounds like a concession that Flynn was wiretapped! He may not have been the original target or the official target, but he got swept in, and we shouldn't even know about that. But there was a leak, and wasn't the leak targeted on him — a gross violation of law designed to take him down? I can't believe we're nitpicking Trump's use of the term "wiretapped" rather that outraged about a shocking abuse of power for political purposes.
For example, it is routine for F.B.I. counterintelligence officials to keep the Russian ambassador under surveillance. Therefore, when Michael T. Flynn, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, spoke on the phone with the Russian ambassador during the presidential transition, the government intercepted that conversation because it was wiretapping the ambassador.
Mr. Trump claimed he used the word “wiretapping” as a broad definition of surveillance.
“Now remember this. When I said wiretapping, it was in quotes. Because a wiretapping is, you know today it is different than wire tapping. It is just a good description. But wiretapping was in quotes.”
This is misleading. Mr. Trump did put the word in quotes in two of his tweets, but explicitly accused Mr. Obama of wiretapping his phones.
Many words are dead metaphors, and "wiretapped" may be one, whether it's in quotes or not. Who cares if there were "wires" that were "tapped"? It's like looking for eaves when someone is said to be eavesdropping. I think the stress on the word "wiretapped" is part of an effort to say that some other party was targeted — some foreign official was listened in on — and that caused the overhearing of some Trump-associated persons. There was a wiretap, but the wires tapped (metaphorically) were not a Trump associate's.
But to use that opportunity — that wiretap — to listen in is a terrible infringement on the non-target, and the law required the protection of these non-targets from an invasion of their privacy. Instead, the leakers did the opposite and took advantage of what they heard and deliberately exposed what they were legally required to mask. That's what I gather from Liu's article anyway.
Why doesn't the NYT care about this problem!