Who is Judy Miller
that Judy Miller has finished testifying, finished spinning for the cameras on
the courthouse steps, finished hugging her dog and finished eating that special
meal she wanted her husband to prepare, she needs to do what Time reporter Matt
Cooper did and immediately publish a full and truthful account of her
involvement in Plamegate.
Because what she – and the New York Times' publisher and editor – have said so
far just doesn't add up.
story being pitched to the public – that Miller was a heroic, principled martyr
who sacrificed her freedom in the name of journalistic integrity, then fulfilled
her "civic duty" after she "finally received a direct and uncoerced waiver" from
her source – is laughable.
it's already been greeted skeptically by 1) my increasingly frustrated sources
at the Times; 2) a chorus of voices in the blogosphere; and 3) (and much more
significantly) Joseph Tate, Scooter Libby's lawyer, who told the Washington Post
that he informed Miller's attorney, Floyd Abrams, a year ago that Libby's waiver
"was voluntary and that Miller was free to testify."
defies credulity for Miller and the Times to keep insisting that Libby's earlier
waiver was coerced when Libby says that it wasn't. I don't have much good to say
about the vice president's chief of staff, but I don't doubt that he knows the
difference between being coerced and acting on his own free will. How deep is
the Times' contempt for its readers that it really thinks they'll buy the "Oh,
Judy finally has the right waiver" line?
appearing in front of the grand jury Friday, Miller was asked to describe her
role in the case. "I was a journalist doing my job," she said.
her role is actually much, much more complicated than that. Any discussion of
Miller's actions in Plamegate cannot leave out the key part she played in
cheerleading for the invasion of Iraq and in hyping the WMD threat. Rereading
some of her prewar reporting today, it's hard not to be stunned by just how
inaccurate and pumped up it turned out to be.
her incarceration, a Times spokesperson described Miller as "an intrepid,
principled and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who has provided our readers
with thorough and comprehensive reporting throughout her career." But a "thorough
and comprehensive" look at Miller's career reveals repeated examples of
egregious reporting, a startling lack of objectivity, too-close-for-comfort
relationships with dubious sources ... and a penchant for far-from-thorough and
through the haze of revisionist portraiture and you might remember that Miller's
byline appeared on four of the six articles that the Times apologized for in its
unprecedented May 2004 mea culpa over its prewar news coverage.
more, Miller's involvement in Plamegate was a direct result of her WMD reporting.
Former Ambassador Joseph Wilson's now famous op-ed piece, which raised the idea
that the Bush administration had manipulated and twisted intelligence to
exaggerate the Iraqi threat, went straight to the heart of Miller's reporting –
and her credibility.
Plame scandal took shape not only when the White House was under attack but when
Miller herself was increasingly being attacked by critics for her deeply flawed
dispatches. When she met with her anti-Plame source – or sources – she was not
only still on the WMD beat but still a true believer promoting the
administration's lies about Iraq's nonexistent WMD threat despite an avalanche
of contrary information.
inescapable fact is that Miller – intentionally or unintentionally – worked hand
in glove in helping the White House propaganda machine sell the war in Iraq. And
that includes Libby and his boss, Dick Cheney.
her transformation into a journalistic Joan of Arc, Miller was in a tailspin,
her work discredited, removed from the WMD beat and forced to deal with
colleagues who refused to share a byline with her. She desperately needed to
change the subject and cleanse herself of the stench left by her misleading
coverage leading up to the war - coverage that makes the Jayson Blair scandal,
by comparison, seem ludicrously insignificant. And there are few more effective
acts of purification for a reporter than going to jail to (in PR theory) protect
the 1st Amendment.
went from pariah to icon, and the Times went from apologizing for her work to
comparing her in a series of over-the-top editorials to Rosa Parks and Martin
Luther King Jr. Talk about an Extreme Makeover.
is no way that the Times' repeated claims that Miller was in jail as a matter of
principle can be squared with her hair-splitting explanations for why she
suddenly changed her mind.
there is no way to accept at face value Miller's ongoing grandstanding about "fighting
for the cause of the free flow of information."
she still trying to convince? Herself?
Arianna Huffington's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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