Monday, October 17, 2005

2+2 = Miller

Salon has a nice analysis of the Judy Miller mess, minus hysteria. While many journalists and others are huffing and puffing in what appears largely theatrical professional jealousy, Farhad Manjoo writes crisply of where she and her editors blundered and what the likely fallout will be for her and for Scotter Libby.

We particularly like this, partially because it agrees with some of our comments here and here. Specifically, he writes:
The Times account shows that senior management did not press Miller on her sources and what the sources had revealed to her about Plame, before backing her stance in public and in numerous editorials. It's hard to imagine why they didn't make sure she wasn't being used by officials in the Bush administration who may have been breaking the law. Then there's the matter of Miller's own unethical actions: The Times' report showed she lied to her editors about her involvement in the case, and maybe more disturbing, she agreed to allow Libby to hide his motives from readers by identifying him in two different ways. Why is she still working at the paper? (Unconfirmed reports say she's taken a leave of absence, but there's no word of any disciplinary action against her.)
He distances himself from the obvious emphasis on her WMD duplicity and cuts to the central issues. She so loved the intrigue and insider advantages that she stiffed her fellow reporters, her editors and her readers. While the editors and publisher should have stood up for her claim of confidentially, they were ethically and professionally obligated to wring the truth from their investigative goddess first. It was a gross failure of morals and will all around, roiling the First Amendment waters.

Salon quotes NYU journalism professor and blogger Jay Rosen's analysis as well. He predicts Miller is on the street in weeks or a month without writing more for the Times. The grounds would be either or both that 1) she lied to the paper's Washington bureau chief about the Plame matter, or 2) in agreeing with Libby to shift to citing him as a "former Hill staffer" she violated the Times' policy about never lying about sources.

As Rosen concludes, "If you look at that anecdote carefully, you have to ask yourself, How far away from her mind are the readers? The readers aren't even in her universe. She's so far gone into this world of secrets and hidden information that representing readers is only a technicality to her."

1 comment:

Paschal Baute said...

Judy Miiller Saga Slimes Journalism and NY Times Slimes Itself, Shame!

Letter to Executive Editor, NY Times

The Judy Miller saga, with many lies and self-deceits, truly so embedded that she is "sleeping" (metaphor) with her sources, that is, ready to cover for them, even lie for them, slimes journalism. The Times executive staff by its lack of oversight slimes itself and its reputation.

Check the blogosphere to see the reaction around the globe from writers, editors, publishers, bloggers to the unfolding stories re her "security clearance," etc. What is emerging is that she refused to testify BECAUSE she was so deeply embedded in the drama that she could not be objective about any of it. Even when taken off the WMD and security beat, she stayed on those, apparently without reporting to any editor. That in itself is reason for firing a reporter.

She should be fired immediately, but that would be too embarrassing to the top dogs. When your own newsroom will not work with her because of her "elbows" and other characteristics, as is now well known, YOU HAVE A PROBLEM.

Executive staff should appoint immediately an independent investigative committee to examine all aspects of this sorry saga, and employ very reputable ex Times staff, such as Alex S. Jones, at Harvard, for oversight. The whole story starting with her uncritical writing of White House propaganda pre Iraqi war, needs to be scoped, told and owned by the Times, a paper of now doubtful "record."

If you do not do it, others will and your paper will both deserve and endure much finger-pointing, derision and disdain.

Paschal Baute
Lexington, KY