WMD Still Embedded in Times Newsroom | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

WMD Still Embedded in Times Newsroom

I tend to agree with Ward Harkavy of the Villege Voice on the Judy Miller cover-up. Now that Judy's been "released" (from jail and her little deal with the White House attack dogs), why doesn't she go write a Pultizer-winning story about really happened, and how the media were used to help spread lies about the WMD and try to get CIA agents killed. Uh, there's the real story. Ward blogs:

[W]e're still waiting for the Iraq debacle's most infamous reporter to get out of embed and touch all the bases for us by telling us exactly what she knows about Plamegate. But in a bonehead play, she remains hidden in the Times newsroom.

Meanwhile, the paper's "public editor," Byron Calame, wrote a ludicrous puff piece on Sunday on what the Times editors think of their readers. Farhad Manjoo, in Salon's excellent War Room, says the paper's silence, meanwhile, about a more important topic — Judy Miller and what she knew and when she knew it — has cast a pall over the paper of broken record's newsroom.

Their readers, Calame intoned in his piece, are "curious" about life in general. Yes, yes, they're upscale, he added, but the main thing is that they're "curious." Calame wrote:

Who are you? The staff's descriptions ascribed characteristics to you and your fellow readers that were nearly all positive and praiseworthy — even boastful, in some cases.
Spare us the bullshit. Who the #### are you? And where's the expected tell-all from Miller about her conversations with Karl Rove? The paper's micro-managing of the Judy Miller saga tells us all we need to know about what the paper thinks of its readers.

Now, what do the readers want? We want to know about Miller's role in Plamegate — my colleague Syd Schanberg, a former Times reporter/editor, for example, just called on her to "come clean." Speculation is rife, and it's getting rifer all the time.

We just found out on October 7, for example, that Miller suddenly found some new notes and turned them over to investigators. Adam Entous of Reuters wrote:

A New York Times reporter has given investigators notes from a conversation she had with a top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney weeks earlier than was previously known, suggesting early White House involvement before the outing of a CIA operative, legal sources said.

Times reporter Judith Miller discovered the notes — from a June 2003 conversation she had with Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby — after her testimony before the grand jury last week, the sources said on Friday. She turned the notes over to federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald and is expected to meet him again next Tuesday, the sources said.

Entous wrote that Miller's notes "could help Fitzgerald establish that Libby had started talking to reporters about CIA operative Valerie Plame and her diplomat husband, Joseph Wilson, weeks before Wilson publicly criticized the administration's Iraq policy in a Times opinion piece."

Previous Comments


The word on the media street is that The New York Times is going to run their own big story about Judy Miller and what went wrong in Plame-gate, including her involvement. Salon today: For months, the paper of record has been under fire from critics for essentially putting up a smoke screen around its beleaguered reporter. By lagging behind other papers in reporting on Miller, critics have been left to speculate that the mighty Times is running scared, that it's been reluctant to look into just what Miller knew and what political figures she may have been in bed with. [...] An explanation this weekend of Miller's role in the Plame case wouldn't come a moment too soon. "The New York Times is now being criticized by its friends," says Alex Jones, a former Times reporter who heads Harvard's Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy. The Times' silence about its own role has not only riled its longtime critics; the paper's stance has also discomfited admirers, folks both inside and outside the paper, who, Jones says, "feel that its position as an institution is important, and is threatened." The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz spoke to some at the Times who said the mood in the newsroom is more sullen now than it was during the Jayson Blair scandal. "No matter what Jayson Blair turned out to have done," says Jay Rosen, the New York University journalism professor, "this touches on something more important: the Times' relationship to power." In not-for-attribution conversations with Salon, staffers at the paper cautioned that things aren't as fevered as they were with Blair -- nobody at the Times is calling for the editors' heads yet -- but the despair is real, and many would like answers from their bosses. The questions about Miller reach back to her controversial reporting on weapons of mass destruction and her role in publicizing the Bush administration's rationale for going to war. Her sharpest critics accuse her of aiding and abetting the attacks on Wilson and Plame, and of taking a stand as a First Amendment martyr only to rehabilitate her image. They hold the Times guilty by association; by protecting her, they say the newspaper is complicit in the Bush administration's rush to war.


Another Judy Miller piece, on Salon today: Miller's reputation had already been deeply sullied by her inaccurate and one-sided reporting on Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction before the war. Questions have swirled about her relationship with the small coterie of neoconservatives, including Libby, who staffed key positions in the Bush administration, and who were allied with Ahmad Chalabi, a corrupt Iraqi expatriate and notorious liar who became Miller's principal source on WMD issues. Suspicions that Miller had crossed an ethical line and grown too close to her sources increased after the waiver letter she received from Libby was disclosed. That letter ended with this bizarre, highly personal passage: "You went into jail in the summer. It is fall now. You will have stories to cover -- Iraqi elections and suicide bombers, biological threats and the Iranian nuclear program. Out West, where you vacation, the aspens will already be turning. They turn in clusters, because their roots connect them. Come back to work -- and life. Until then, you will remain in my thoughts and prayers. With admiration, Scooter Libby." All of which raises the question: Should Miller herself be understood as a neocon? The evidence suggests that she is not. Rather it was a combination of hawkish convictions about Saddam, ambition, arrogance pumped up by her pre-9/11 work on WMD and jihadis, lax editorial oversight, and her longstanding tendency to get too close to her sources, that led her to become a credulous mouthpiece for those who sought to justify war with Iraq.


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