Sunday, October 16, 2005

2¢ Plame

Let us bow our heads and speak briefly of Judith Miller. Nah, we can shout like everyone else.

The New York Times finally interviewed its ex-con reporter, Judith Miller. Its long report appeared today here. Her article on what she learned and what she told the grand jury is here. Also a mind-clarifying timeline of the whole mess is here.

Note: These links should be free for a week. Then if you aren't a subscriber or don't want to pay, you can probably search the Web and find them for free.

Our prejudice from a house of ex-newspaper reporters is that no matter how dirty she was on reporting WMD, this is another matter entirely. Many, such as BlueMassGroup, have had another view from the beginning.

Amusingly now, both Robert Novak and Matt Cooper should fess up about their grand jury appearances. Novak has been far dirtier than Miller for decades of shilling for government officials. Cooper just seems gormless. One would hope that those who have been unable to cut Miller any slack turn their attention equally to those clowns.

Regardless, the Times' main article sums it up best with the selection:

The Times said it believes that attempts by prosecutors to force reporters to reveal confidential information must be resisted. Otherwise, it argues, the public would be deprived of important information about the government and other powerful institutions.

The fact that Ms. Miller's judgment had been questioned in the past did not affect its stance. "The default position in a case like that is you support the reporter," Mr. Keller said.

It was in these early days that Mr. Keller and Mr. Sulzberger learned Mr. Libby's identity. Neither man asked Ms. Miller detailed questions about her conversations with him.

Both said they viewed the case as a matter of principle, which made the particulars less important. "I didn't interrogate her about the details of the interview," Mr. Keller said. "I didn't ask to see her notes. And I really didn't feel the need to do that."

Still, Mr. Keller said the case was not ideal: "I wish it had been a clear-cut whistle-blower case. I wish it had been a reporter who came with less public baggage."

Miller's own account is consistent with what she has been saying all along, a mindset that befuddles and divides the newsroom between supporters and those who can never forgive her for MWD stupidity.

Her version also suggests that she is a sloppy and distracted reporter. She can't remember where marginal notes came from, a real no-no. Then again, she was quite the pampered dilettante and loved playing investigative goddess.

Whether her case ends up helping the crying need for a federal shield law is debatable. It certainly raised the issue's profile and got the big shot journalists choosing sides.

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