Saturday, October 22, 2005

No Love Lost

Judith Miller misled her editor at the New York Times her role in the Plame case. This according to a story by Howard Kurtz in the Washington Post.

New York Times executives “fully encouraged” reporter Judith Miller in her refusal to testify in the CIA leak investigation, a stance that led to her jailing, and later told Miller she could not continue at the paper unless she wrote a first-person account, her attorney said yesterday.

The comments by Robert Bennett came as Executive Editor Bill Keller accused Miller of apparently misleading the newspaper about her dealings with Vice President Cheney’s top aide, signaling the first public split between Miller and the management of a newspaper that had fully embraced her in the contentious legal battle.


“Until Fitzgerald came after her,” Keller wrote, “I didn’t know that Judy had been one of the reporters on the receiving end of the . . . whisper campaign” against Joe Wilson, the husband of CIA operative Valerie Plame. “I should have wondered why I was learning this from the special counsel, a year after the fact.” Citing a 2003 conversation with Miller that was recalled by Washington bureau chief Philip Taubman, Keller wrote: “Judy seems to have misled Phil Taubman about the extent of her involvement.”

Further, Keller said, “if I had known the details of Judy’s entanglement with Libby, I’d have been more careful in how the paper articulated its defense and perhaps more willing than I had been to support efforts aimed at exploring compromises.”

The way I see it, both the Times and Miller used each other. The Times, in an effort to keep their credibility intact after the Jayson Blair episode, stood behind Miller as long as it appeared that she was in the right, both on her Iraq stories — what, the government was going to dispute her backing them on the WMD line? — and as long as they could hold her up as a First Amendment case when she went to jail for refusing to reveal her source. As far as Miller was concerned, she was on the gravy train with her suck-up stories about the build-up to war and she had further ingratiated herself with her inside sources by standing up for her right to shield her sources. She used them, they used her, and as long as everything was status quo, everyone was happy. Happy, that is, until she found out that life in jail without her masseuse, her martinis, her steak, and her Scooter was no bed of roses, and until the New York Times found out through other reports and a big dose of reality that she had been less than candid and accountable.

If the New York Times could dispense with Jayson Blair as brutally as they did — not that he didn’t deserve it, mind you — why can’t the same be done for a reporter who also showed that she can’t be trusted to do her job withing the confines of the ethics and standards of basic journalism?