Vicious:

The New York Times public editor changes his mind on "The Times’s decision to publish its June 23 article on a once-secret banking-data surveillance program":

My July 2 column strongly supported [this decision]. After pondering for several months, I have decided I was off base. There were reasons to publish the controversial article, but they were slightly outweighed by two factors to which I gave too little emphasis. While it’s a close call now, as it was then, I don’t think the article should have been published.

Regardless of what one thinks of the merits of the matter, the public editor deserves credit for being willing to publicly correct himself -- and to criticize the newspaper's decision -- when he became persuaded that he and the newspaper were mistaken. (For more details of the editor's reasoning, following the link above.)

I would like, though, a bit of help with the last paragraph:

What kept me from seeing these matters more clearly earlier in what admittedly was a close call? I fear I allowed the vicious criticism of The Times by the Bush administration to trigger my instinctive affinity for the underdog and enduring faith in a free press -- two traits that I warned readers about in my first column.

It is a little odd to see the New York Times as the underdog, even with respect to the Administration (especially the mid-2006 Bush Administration, which was hardly at the peak of its power). But independently of that, could readers please point me to the Administration statements that the editor seems to be referring to as "vicious criticism[s]"? I would genuinely like to be informed about this, since it might provide a better referent for what "vicious" means in political discourse (for instance, for deciding whether particular New York Times columns critical of the Administration are themselves "vicious criticism[s]").