Sunday, October 16, 2005

Pardon Me While I Laugh My Ass Off

The Miller Case: A Notebook, a Cause, a Jail Cell and a Deal


"We have everything to be proud of and nothing to apologize for," Ms. Miller said in an interview Friday.

Neither The Times nor its cause has emerged unbruised. Three courts, including the Supreme Court, declined to back Ms. Miller. Critics said The Times was protecting not a whistle-blower but an administration campaign intended to squelch dissent. The Times's coverage of itself was under assault: While the editorial page had crusaded on Ms. Miller's behalf, the news department had more than once been scooped on the paper's own story, even including the news of Ms. Miller's release from jail.

Asked what she regretted about The Times's handling of the matter, Jill Abramson, a managing editor, said: "The entire thing."


And the wild regrets, and the bloody sweats,
None knew so well as I:
For he who lives more lives than one
More deaths than one must die.

Oscar Wilde, The Ballad of Reading Gaol


portia said...

Talk about anti-climatic.... Miller's NYT article detailing her notes/testimony asks more questions than it answers. Three meetings with Libby in which she writes some variation of Valerie's name in her notes each time yet she still can't recall who, what, where or when? She should be charged with crimes against journalism, and Libby's "aspens will already be turning" letter should win the Buwler Lytton fiction contest.

Among the interesting questions spd is why the NYT let other news agencies scoop the story.

spd rdr said...

I dunno...maybe it was caused by a deep sense of shame and embarrassment.

portia said...

Um...maybe. Maybe that explains some of the NYT's hesitation to take control of the story during her incarceration but what of its bizarre decision to sit on the "breaking news" of Miller's release for several hours before reporting it? To distance itself from the story? Perhaps. But why?

Correction: Miller jotted down Valerie's name only twice in her notes, and not three times as I claimed. My bad. Note to self: Next time don't take "Miller Time" literally:)

Cassandra said...

"why the NYT let other news agencies scoop the story."

Simple: they are distancing themselves from it because they are just now realizing that they have been had.

No one likes the taste of crow. Like all journalistic mistakes, this one will have a quick and quiet burial if the Times can help it.

portia said...

Myabe they were had, maybe they weren't. Or maybe they have their own cover-up afoot. Besides the NYT's obvious bungling of the Miller story, besides the bizarre decision to let Judy "keep her hand on the wheel," there is this: How did the NY Times allow a journalist with DoD clearance to investigate matters about which she could never report on or divulge without risk of prosecution? Did her editors know about her clearance? Did they just decide to turn a blind eye to this fact? If they knew, did they have an obligation to inform their readers? If they didn't know, shouldn't they have?

More questions than answers but I find this very troubling.

Cricket said...

And maybe her clearance was another reason why they let other papers scoop the story. I agree with the distancing, but if other journalists without her level of clearance could connect the dots from open sources, then they can cut and run and the story gets buried.

I get the feeling that if the NYT doesn't mention it, it isn't news worth printing.

Cassandra said...

Portia darlin', if you can ever figure that one out, you are a far, far better woman than I (well, I suspect that is already the case). And perhaps then you can explain to me how the WaPo can, in good conscience, allow Walter Pincus, who was specifically named in the SSCI investigation report as having been duped by Joseph Wilson into repeating his many and varied lies in the WaPo, to continue to report on the that very same story week after week.

And how, doing that, he could be allowed to do so, managing EACH AND EVERY TIME TO CURIOUSLY OMIT THAT SAME SSCI COMMITTEE REPORT FROM THE STORY, right after he mentions "Joseph Wilson", whistleblower", Niger, yellowcake, Rove, plot, discredit, all in the same sentence.

As though it were completely immaterial that Wilson's entire story was shown to be untrue by the Senate investigation. Nope... nothing the public needs to know here... just keep movin'.

portia said...

Indeed Cricket, I think that is why the NYT felt compromised with reporting details of the story, and obvious concern about the lines that may have been crossed/blurred because of her clearance. In fact, NYT didn't even mention that Scooter was Miller's source--or at least that he was one of them--until recently, and only after it had been covered for weeks by all the other rags.

When I read that Miller had received DOD clearance while she was reporting for the NYT, I couldn't help but be reminded about Operation Mockingbird,
which was uncovered during the Church Committee investigation. Add to that Libby's obvious "affection" and reliance on Miller--not to mention a two hour breakfast at the St. Regis--and well, my mind goes into overdrive.

Cass, I don't know enough about Pincus but I see a difference between being privy to confidential information, and having a bias because you may have a "dog in this fight." Doesn't make Pincus right, just less connected/compromised.

Cassandra said...

Well everyone seems to think Miller slept with Chalabi too, but that sounds just like gossip to me.

I don't think you automatically disqualify a reporter just because he might have bias, but you should certainly, as an employer concerned with the integrity of your news reporting, watch him more carefully if his name appears in an investigation as having been once duped by a proven liar! And then, if he goes right on committing exactly the same errors of fact, once he both he and his management are notice that he has been duped and Wilson has lied as if nothing had ever happened?

Does that not make management almost unbelievably negligent in their duty to supervise? You can only close your eyes so long.

Cassandra said...


are ON notice that he has been duped

portia said...

Holy cow! Miller slept with Chalabi?
Talk about weapons of frigid construction...:)

spd rdr said...


Cassandra said...

I have no idea whether it's true or not, but that's what is bruited about by Arianna Huff-puff and her lot, and some of the folks on TPM and the liberal blogs I was reading to get a broader perspective on L-Affaire Plame.

Portia, I found this, this afternoon and thought of you immediately - if you haven't already seen it, I hope you enjoy

I thought it was stunning. It reminds me of driving up to our cabin in New Hampshire. I used to love passing through NYC - that was one of my favorite parts of the trip - I used to beg my Dad to let me drive the car over the bridge :) What a rush!

portia said...

Thanks, Cass. Stunning photo.

Judy, Judy, Judy. More background on our gal, and a fascinating read. Gives new meaning to her nickname Judy "kneepads" Miller:)

“It would help [your chances for confirmation],” Orrin Hatch delicately wrote to Richard Burt nominated to be assistant secretary of State for European affairs by Reagan, “if you could lay to rest the rumors about Judith Miller’s articles on arms control appearing so soon after your own [um...] meetings with her. . . .”

New rule: Keep your friends close, and your sources even closer. *wink, wink*

spd rdr said...

"lee Aspin said...rolling over in bed..."
What a howl!

portia said...

"Scooter Libby said...cupping her aspens...."

portia said...

Today's non-denial, denial:

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said he was unaware of [Judy] Miller having a security clearance. He said security clearances are covered by privacy laws, so he couldn't talk about it.

"Chalabi his post-coital cigarette ..."

Cassandra said...

Five will get you ten she had no security clearance.

portia said...

Cass, you know more about things military than I ever will so I can't even venture a guess. But whether or not her statement was a further attempt at self-aggrandizing, she did manage to insinute herself in her assigned Army unit. Check out this June 2003 article about some of her antics. GI Judy, indeed.

spd rdr said...

We will deal with Judy shortly.

Cassandra said...

Actually my knowledge of military stuff is kind of spotty Portia. I'm certainly no expert - I always laugh when people claim to be 'in the know'. There is so much to know, and it's like the blind men and the elephant - I feel the big toe, but there's the whole rest of the beast looming over my head.

re: Judy, I've been reading about MET Alpha for quite some time (but I will read your article too). I did a fair amount of research before deciding to bag on her publicly.

That was my primary reason for thinking she might well have learned Plame's identity in her travels. It's killing me not to be able to write about this now that everything is coming out. I exchanged emails with a few people who have been writing about her and there are some very interesting theories out there :)

spd rdr said...

You two smartasses will be the death of me. Let a guy catch up once and a while, will ya'? There are sports going on!

Cassandra said...

re: exchanging emails. One of them was actually kind of funny. I had read one woman who said she might have to apologize to Miller if her theory proved right for some things she'd said in the past. I replied that if she was right, so would I, publicly, which I'd hate to have to do but right is right.

The more I read about Miller the less I trust her motives. It will certainly be interesting to see how this plays out. I wonder if we'll ever know the whole story?

I've never believed she went to jail to protect Libby, but if she went to jail to protect another source I'll have to decide whether to retract that part of what I wrote (that she's a hypocrite). She's still wrong - she has no right to defy the grand jury. But I'm pretty sure I called her a hypocrite - I'll have to re-read my wording. Depending on what falls out of this, I hope I won't have to eat some of it! Hopefully I was careful, but I doubt it. I was pretty irritated with her.

[gobble, gobble]

portia said...

Depending on what falls out of this

Why Cass, because Rove may have told Libby about Wilson's wife after he heard it from "someone" outside the WH but before he told it to Cooper who learned about it after Libby buttered Judy's toast at the St. Regis, which may or may not have preceded when Rove spoke to Russert but most definitely occurred subsequent to when Wilson's NYT article was published and prior to Novak's column naming Plame?

All I can say is, Libby was right: They turn in clusters, because their roots connect them

portia said...

Correction: "before Rove heard it from Libby..." Damn fact checkers, you'd think I worked at the NYT:)

No matter, my hair still hurts.

P.S. Cass, in case it wasn't clear from my "chinese boxes" comment above, I doubt you'll have to eat any of your words about Ms. Run Amok. Save the "gobble, gobble" for Thanksgiving:)

Cassandra said...

That's what my husband thinks too.

I guess I was just afraid (for a moment) that I'd been unfair to her. It's not like I've never made corrections before, but they've always been on matters of fact. and usually confined to a narrow point (i.e., I reported x story and then found out x story wasn't accurate or was really version x.1). I'd hate to have to come out and say that I'd relentlessly wronged her, day after day. Especially when it involves her reputation, though I can't say she's taken very good care of that herself. Still...

portia said...

Miller's faux martyrdom reminds me of a line from the movie, Wag the Dog:

Conrad 'Connie' Brean: Stanley, don't do this. You're playing with your life here.
Stanley Motss: F*ck my life. I want the credit.

Cassandra said...

Just as long as I don't keep getting dragged back out of the wings to make corrections. I have two horrific visions: one is that I end up as some sort of blogospheric zombie from Hell who keeps quitting and then coming back until finally one of my readers goes completely berserk in an insane fit of rage and puts a stake through my fricking heart just to make sure I die, die, DIE, dammit.

In the other, I become this pathetic Blogospheric Slut (my husband and I were discussing this one the other nite), guest posting on various sites. Rumors start to circulate: "Jesus Christ, she'll write for anyone... did you see THAT??? doesn't she have any PRIDE left?"

Short answer, no. Heh...

God, is it five o'clock yet?

spd rdr said...

Hey! Great idea! Write for mine!

Cassandra said...

Very funny. I always suspected you had a soft heart under that manly exterior. I had no idea your head was going soft too :)

I knew there was a reason I liked you.

portia said...

Um, moving right along....

Lookey here.The Office of Special Counsel Fitzgerald unveiled its own web site today. Just the kind of thing you do a week before you're going out of business. Not.

One can only hope his head is not going soft.

Cassandra said...

Well, if it is I'm sure Judi Miller can help him with that little problem

portia said...

Maybe...I understand he likes cats.

Best quote of the day:
"Judy told The Times that she plans to write a book and intends to return to the newsroom, hoping to cover "the same thing I've always covered - threats to our country." If that were to happen, the institution most in danger would be the newspaper in your hands." Maureen Dowd.