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Digests & Round-ups:

Memeorandum: Single best way I know of to keep track of both the news and the political blogosphere. Top news stories and posts that people are blogging about, automatically updated.

Daily Briefing: A categorized digest of press news from the Project on Excellence in Journalism.

Press Notes is a round-up of today's top press stories from the Society of Professional Journalists.

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Newsblog is a daily digest from Online Journalism Review.

E-Media Tidbits from the Poynter Institute is group blog by some of the sharper writers about online journalism and publishing. A good way to keep up

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October 12, 2005

The Times at Bay: Armchair Critic Speculates

"Everything has to wait until the moment when Judy 'can be expected to tell what happened,' as Landman so carefully put it. When it comes and she still refuses the hierarchy will turn a whiter shade of pale. Key people will then know their investment in Miller went terribly wrong."

(… New post alert. Oct. 14, The Hypothesis: Notes on the Judy Miller Situation)

This may be frustrating to our armchair critics, and it is frustrating to all of us, but it is not unusual even for this investigation.

Bill Keller to New York Times staff, Oct. 11.

There were some small breaks today in the matter of missing journalism at the New York Times. They came on the website of the New York Observer, where reporter Gabriel Sherman is starting to get replies to some of the most glaring questions.

We learn several things from the Observer’s latest. It says (as the Times story did this morning) that the notes Judith Miller belatedly “found” were not in the Washington bureau. Newsweek’s Michael Isikoff had reported otherwise, citing “lawyers close to the case.”

That struck many as odd, since Ms. Miller doesn’t really work out of the Washington bureau. Washington bureau staffers said that they were unaware of any notes turning up on their turf.

“She’s not been here since her confinement,” a Washington bureau staffer said. “We’ve been left out of this story, and then suddenly it seemed like the bureau was involved, when in fact we weren’t.”

A lawyer familiar with the case said the new material came from Ms. Miller’s own notebook, turned over by her legal team.

“We’ve been left out of this story” is a glimpse into what’s going on at the Times. Nearly everyone feels that way— including readers.

Next we learn about the columnists failing to comment, which has been so striking to observers. Sherman got editorial page editor Gail Collins to at least address it. Hooray!

So far, since Ms. Miller’s decision to leave jail and testify, the opinion and news pages have been in harmony—- if silence counts as harmony. As speculation about the case burns up the blogosphere, none of the Times columnists have weighed in on the subject.

Ms. Collins said there’s no edict barring the Op-Ed crew from writing about Ms. Miller.

“They choose their own subjects,” Ms. Collins said, “and they’re edited only by a copy editor. I have no idea what they will write until I see it in the paper.”

No edict. They choose. So the muting of the columnists isn’t planned or ordered, it just is— harmonically. (None wants to be embarrassed by facts that have yet to come out: that’s my guess. See this Oct. 14 account for confirmation.)

In another first, Sherman got Jonathan Landman, the editor in charge of the big investigation of Miller, to break radio silence and communicate with Times readers— via the website of the Observer. An indirect method, but better than nothing.

Deputy managing editor Jon Landman—who is overseeing a Miller-case reporting team that includes Adam Liptak, Janny Scott and Don Van Natta Jr.—said that the delay is a matter of full access, not permission.

“What Bill is talking about is not when we can write a story,” Mr. Landman said. “What he is talking about is when [Ms. Miller] can be expected to tell what happened.”

The Times is handling the situation the way that other publications caught up in Mr. Fitzgerald’s investigation handled their own reporters’ cases, Mr. Landman said.

“What is holding up the Times reporting on this is Judy’s continued legal entanglements,” he continued. “The reporting goes on, but the publication of the story that you’re talking about will be determined when she’s out from contempt. It’s the same as [Time magazine’s] Matt Cooper. When the contempt citation was served, he didn’t write something. Once it was lifted, he wrote something. And Time also did something with it.”

This appears to be the official story: the Times is following some kind of established procedure. It’s doing no worse than Time did on disclosure. Sherman points out one difference: “Mr. Cooper didn’t surprise anyone by coming up with an extra set of notes after his grand-jury appearance.” He closes with the frustration of the staff with the Times at bay:

None of us is aware what the story is,” one Times staffer said. “We’re awaiting information just like our readers are. There are a huge number of mysteries that need to be resolved. The paper needs to resolve it for their readers— and staff.”

Which leads to my own speculation. Ordinarily I avoid that; here, since the Times has decided to say as little as possible, it is more justified. What follows, then, is not what someone told me; and I didn’t read it in the papers. It’s not information, or journalism, but at best informed guesswork— a deduction from things we know. I like emptywheel’s phrase, “My latest refined scenario.”

In my latest refined scenario…

Warning: This is just armchair speculation, okay? Could be quite wrong.

The New York Times is in a suspended state, editorially speaking. In fact, the entire organization—with the exception of a few lawyers, a few top executives, a few top editors, plus Jon Landman and his crew—is in the dark about Miller, uncertain of what a full investigation will find, unwilling to speak in the absence of knowledge now being gathered, fearful that the emerging story could be devastating to:

  • the reputation of the New York Times for independence and honesty
  • the stand on high principle that took Judy Miller to jail
  • the positions of the people in charge (the editors, the publisher) who supported that stand as selfless and heroic
  • whole portions of the Times news coverage, as happened with its faulty reporting on Saddam’s weapons.
  • an intelligent reader’s confidence in the Times as reputable news source
  • their own illusions about the New York Times as pillar of a free press

Which of these will be toppled by the end of the month? Which will be standing? No one knows. Any or all could be in ruins when the facts come out. Or none. This creates anxiety. (Again, I’m engaged in speculation.)

Baffled and frustrated journalists

What might look like a conscious decision to curtail normal news coverage, or “muzzle” the columnists is nothing of the kind. There are no orders to cease and desist. Nor is there any invitation to examine the Miller case with the tools a great newspaper has available. There is only the suspended state, which includes silence from the top, reporting talent that has been sidelined, and supervisors who are themselves in the dark.

No one wants to make a move that would break the stillness. On the whole, the staff is baffled and frustrated, feeling out of the loop, and worried that Miller was involved in things even the people in charge don’t know about or comprehend yet.

At this point Judith Miller is a deeply unpopular figure in the newsroom, even with the sacrifice of her freedom for 85 days, an act which most Times-people identified with and respected at first. It is painful to learn that their instinct to side with Miller when she was jailed and defiant—a form of loyalty—may blow up in their faces. They wonder how the Times got itself into a situation where Judy Miller and her attorneys seem to be calling the shots for the newspaper-at-large.

Judith Miller is a Washington journalist for the Times, but she isn’t under the control of the Times Washington bureau— or a “member” of it. She’s attached to the investigative unit in New York. The bureau (“We’ve been left out of this story”) feels isolated; it has been ignored and de-fanged by the confounding logic of this case. Anything new it might dig up could complicate Judy Miller’s trials, or undermine the positions (and prior statements) of the people in charge of the newspaper.

What the reporters in the DC bureau cannot do is report on the Judy Miller story without fear or favor. It’s killing them. But what recourse do they have… complain to the publisher? He bet the First Amendment house on Judy Miller.

Miller’s non-cooperation

Miller has said she will cooperate with the Times reporters, but not yet… In reality (I speculate) they are getting nothing material from her, just as we are getting nothing. And nothing is all they are ever going to get. The full extent of her refusal to tell the Times what she knows has not been admitted yet, for it would be an ominous sign. That her cooperation is right around the corner helps maintain the fiction that Keller’s “vigorous reporting effort” would be before us, were it not for the prosecutor’s continued interest in Miller.

Officially, everything has to wait until the moment when Judy “can be expected to tell what happened,” as Landman so carefully put it. When it comes and she still refuses the hierarchy will turn a whiter shade of pale. Key people will then know their investment in Miller went terribly wrong. That is when telling the truth to readers will be the only option.

Because she won’t cooperate, she won’t be allowed to do what Matt Cooper did: write a first person account. You may have noticed that no one associated with the Times speaks of Miller publishing her story later on. (Which blows the parallel to Time and Cooper.) I think they know it’s not going to happen in their newspaper.

Thus the team of Jonathan Landman, Don Van Natta, Adam Liptak and Janny Scott will have to tell Miller’s story without Miller’s help— and in a sense “against” her. No one had planned for this, and it is part of the reason for the sputtering and the delay. Especially as her story crumbles, Miller has no interest in helping the Times reporters investigate her.

Her non-cooperation with the reporting team is related, of course, to the incomplete account she gave to special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald. Because of that she still has legal counsel advising her to keep quiet, and because of that the Times says it can’t report her story. This is the state of suspension, where only the lawyers appear to be in charge. (See the updates below in “After.”)

The risk in publishing

Problem is there’s no telling whether Patrick Fitzgerald will turn up facts devastating to the New York Times, truth the Times was itself unable to discover. Therefore there is a substantial risk in publishing the big investigation Keller has promised until Fitzgerald shows what he has, especially as Miller becomes a non-cooperating journalist. What if Fitzgerald has the goods and the Times doesn’t?

Jeralyn Merrit refined one scenario: “when Fitzgerald’s investigation is over, and it becomes clear that Judith Miller didn’t go to jail because she is Saint Judy, protecting the First Amendment rights of journalists everywhere, but to protect her own career and sources, so no one would learn just how embedded she is with the Bush Admininstration.”

And if something like that happened, it’s going to mean the Times was far too “embedded” with the Administration. Times people know it, and dread it. (Editor & Publisher boss Greg Mitchell can explain why.) This kind of awareness has created the suspended state. No one decreed that Times journalism would go missing. No one enforces it, either. The suspension of journalism isn’t debated among decision-makers because it isn’t a “decided” state at all— it’s a default one.

If there is any strong current of hope it has an incredibly simple source: that Times journalism will win out in the end, despite all the coming losses, because in the end Jonathan Landman, Don Van Natta, Adam Liptak and Janny Scott will be able to tell the truth.

Reminder: That wasn’t “news,” just an armchair critic’s speculation.

After Matter: Notes, reactions & links…

(Oct. 14) The Times public editor speaks. Now is the time.

This was posted before the Wall Street Journal’s report on Miller’s second day of additional testimony, which contains some facts favorable to my speculation: Miller will not cooperate with the journalism to come. Key news: lifting of the contempt order.

“I am delighted that the contempt order has been lifted, and Judy is now completely free to go about her great reporting as a very principled and honorable reporter,” said Robert Bennett, Ms. Miller’s attorney.

The lifting of the order is significant, because it opens the door for Ms. Miller to disclose details of her story and her testimony to the Times, which has been criticized for not being more forthcoming on what it knows about its reporter’s involvement in the case. Bill Keller, executive editor of the Times, said on Tuesday that once Ms. Miller’s “obligations to the grand jury are fulfilled, we intend to write the most thorough story we can….”

Reached Wednesday afternoon, Ms. Miller declined to say whether she would be giving an interview to the Times.

Italics mine. Okay: You’re Judy Miller. Your own attorney says you’re in the clear to be a journalist again. But you can’t say whether you’ll be granting the Times an interview?

See Dale Franks at the QandO blog on this point.

Wait, there’s more. From Salon’s Farhad Manjoo (Oct. 14):

Bill Keller, the paper’s executive editor, told Times reporter David Johnston that the judge’s ruling “should clear the way for The Times to do what we’ve been yearning to do: tell the story.” Asked by Salon to clarify this statement — did Keller mean that Miller would talk to Times reporters who are charged to investigate her role in the Plame case? — Keller was cagey: “If you’re patient, you’ll read your answer in our paper,” he wrote in an e-mail. (Miller’s attorneys did not return calls for comment.)

If Miller were cooperating, would Keller say anything like that? No, sorry, that’s evidence for thesis.

The Times article by David Johnston says the contempt finding has been lifted. Big news involving Judith Miller. But it mentions nothing about Miller agreeing to cooperate. I guess she couldn’t be reached. Seem likely to you? Or is there a “story” there?

See also Editor & Publisher’s account of it.

If you’re interested in why Miller might refuse to cooperate with Times journalism, the Left Coaster has a detailed examination and re-construction. Short answer: she misled her colleagues and they’re going to know.

On the other hand… maybe she isn’t cooperating with them (the Landman team) because she wants her piece to have the skinny, so she can shape perceptions and soften the blow of harsh facts. That fits what we know of Miller’s dramatics. I could see her trying that.

I was interviewed in David Folkenflik’s report for NPR’s “Morning Edition” (Oct. 13). You can listen here. He reveals that Miller had agreed last week to an interview with him. Then a corporate spokesperson called and said sorry, no go. That counts for my thesis that she doesn’t want to face tough questioning from her peers in journalism.

See too Tom Maguire’s careful dissection of the Observer piece I mentioned, focusing on Nick Kristoff of the Times and Walter Pincus of the Washington Post, who was also subpoened. Very interesting.

Howard Kurtz reports: “The anguish among New York Times staffers over the paper’s handling of the Judith Miller saga has mounted in recent days, much to the consternation of its top executives.” He quotes my statement that the Times “has lost the capacity to tell the truth about itself in this story,” which I made on his CNN show.

“Of course I’m concerned by the very palpable frustration in the newsroom,” Bill Keller said to Kurtz yesterday. “I share it. It’s excruciating to have a story and not be able to tell it, and annoying to be nibbled at by the blogs and to watch preposterous speculation congeal into conventional wisdom.”

After you read Kurtz, see Greg Mitchell, Why Judith Miller Can’t Catch a Break. “…her defenders want us to overlook her tainted WMD coverage. Here’s why that plea is absurd, and why so many at her own paper are voicing complaints.”

It’s clear (from what I’ve picked up) that some people at the Times aren’t worried. They think Keller and company have it under control. They counsel patience, as he does. When the Landman team publishes its account the doubts will be answered and the story will be told, they say. All this gloom and doom will then look silly. I have no idea how many are of this view, but the ranks of the de-exciters appear to include public editor Byron Calame.

Alice Marshall (technoflak) in comments: “When the NY Times complains that their sources lied to them, well, they sound like Arthur Anderson. It may past muster in a court of law, but it will not allow them to hold on to their market.”

Sourcing, verification, bloggers and the Times. The editor of the Greensboro newspaper, John Robinson of the News & Record, at his Editor’s Log:

We published a JP merger story online Monday morning based on a New York Times story that had no named sources or attribution. Hmmm, I thought, so I’m saying that we can justify publishing an unsourced Times story but not an unsourced post by a blogger? What if the blogger had been someone like, say, Ed Cone, a journalist, a columnist for this paper and a credible reporter? Hmmm again. Or what it had been Sandy Carmany, a city council member who might well be in a position to know about the buyout? We’d try to confirm the information, but what if we couldn’t? What if they protected their sources? If you believe your readers know more than you, where does this leave you? Why would we give the Times, which has had credibility issues of late, a pass but not local bloggers we trust?

The merger he mentions is Jefferson-Pilot Corp. with Lincoln National Corp.

Part of the background to Robinson’s post is the little argument I’ve been having with Melanie Sill, John’s counterpart in Raleigh at the News & Observer. It’s at her blog. And in the background to that was the ConvergeSouth conference in Greensboro. Here’s Ed Cone’s wrap-up with lots of links. And here’s Tim Porter with a long, winding and ultimately very satisfying commentary on my exchange with Melanie Sill.

Christopher Lydon of Open Source Radio in comments at an earlier post.

The real nightmare for the Times is the plain fact that one-way print-based corporate journalism cannot prevail in a rough-and-ready information game against the interactive, almost-free, global, democratic and instant Internet. For hungry hounds of news and for “the rising generation,” in the late Times saint James Reston’s phrase, the Times will never again be “the paper of record,” as we used to call it, or the first draft of history.

Daniel Okrent, the first public editor at the Times, says this is what it’s all about:

While Okrent declined to comment on how the Times had been covering the Miller story, or on Calame’s decision so far not to write about it, he indicated he would have savored such an issue to review.

“If I were there, this is exactly the kind of issue I would want to get my teeth into. It is interesting stuff and it is important,” Okrent said during a phone interview from Cape Cod…

Jane Hamsher drinks it all in and decides: “I’m sticking with my initial guess — Judy lied and Fitzgerald nailed her.”

Richard Cohen of the Washington Post wants Fitzgerald to fold his tent and go away. No good can come from leak investigations, only a less free press. “Apres Miller comes moi.”

Atrios on Cohen: “It’s all there. The insider’s anger at being kept out of the loop. The Beltway class’s belief that they are above the law. Clinging to the fantasy that this case is about press freedom. The pundit’s arrogance that he knows what’s best for Washington.”

Mark Kleiman says the Miller investigation at the Times calls for “players” like Keller to excuse themselves and be treated as sources:

The conventions of journalism assume that the reporter and the outlet he works for are purely passive observers, not themselves actors. That’s almost always false to some extent, since it’s almost always true that the people and institutions being reported on are conscious of the potential presence of journalistic observers and are shaping their behavior to some extent in light of how it will appear in the media.

But sometimes that convention is so far from reality as to completely mislead the reader. In those cases, editorial recusal and the appointment of special editors and reporters ought to become conventional responses.

Jack Shafer in a column on the risk of criminalizing relations with sources writes: “National-security reporters—none of whom have clearances—receive classified information for a living.” How does he know that there aren’t any reporters with security clearences? It would be a good way of favoring a favorite, says I. Surely such arrangements would be secret if they existed. In fact, I could see a journalist fighting pretty hard to keep that kind of secret.

Earlier at PressThink:

  • Judith Miller and Her Times (Oct. 2): “Notice how it affects what the New York Times, a great institution, can tell the public, and yet Judy’s decision was hers: personal when she made it (her conditions weren’t met), personal when she changed it (her conditions were met.) That’s what I mean by Miller’s Times.”
  • News Comes in Code: Judy Miller’s Return to the Times (Oct. 4): “Just one man’s opinion, but now is a good time to say it: The New York Times is not any longer—in my mind—the greatest newspaper in the land. Nor is it the base line for the public narrative that it once was. Some time in the last year or so I moved the Washington Post into that position…”
  • The Shimmer: Missing Data at the New York Times (Oct. 10) “Whereas a week ago, I was calling it ‘Judy Miller’s New York Times’ to emphasize how she seemed to be the actor-in-chief, I now think it’s more than that: a bigger unknown is affecting things. Not only is the Times not operating properly, it’s unable to say to readers: here’s why we’re not.”

Posted by Jay Rosen at October 12, 2005 7:00 PM   Print


If you read Sherman's article in the Observer carefully, the prospects are even more frightening that what you suggest here.

If you follow the time line of the Observer article, it can support some pretty ominous conclusions.

May 2003: on the opinion page side, Nicholas Kristof starts writing about the cooking of intelligence to support the presence of WMDs in Iraq, getting his information from Joseph Wilson behind the scenes

May-June 2003: Judith Miller is concluding her treasure hunt for WMDs in Iraq as an embedded journalist with a special intelligence unit empty handed (the one, remember, where she threatened the officers that she would use her connections against them if they called off the search? this is a revealing display of stress, and now, with the Observer article, we know that is more than just general public concern, she felt the pressure from Wilson through Kristof within her own newspaper)

June 2003: the news division gets into action in light of the threat posed by Kristof's rogue operation on the opinion page side, and Bill Keller assigns Miller to investigate, and she goes to their favorite source, Lewis Libby, and talks to him on June 23, 2003

my sense is that you can only understand Keller's and Miller's actions in light of the air of desperation created by Miller's inability to find WMDs in Iraq, and Kristof's insistence upon confronting the issue with the help of Wilson

June 23, 2005: what happened? personally, I think that Libby and Miller conspired to give out Valerie Plame's name, with Miller abandoning her original intention to write the story herself (that was just a little too hot to handle, even for her)

But did Miller give Plame's name to Libby??? Certainly, plausible, given her history as a reporter that covered WMD issues for nearly 10 years, and note this, from a blog today:

[Matthews just discussed the lastest news of the "Leak Case" with the Washington Post's Mike Allen, and NBC's Norah O'Donnel.

Mike Allen said people inside the White House are readying their legal defense, and that it will be that the Valerie Wilson information came from the press to them, not the other way around. One problem though, is that Allen said members of the State Department (including Colin Powell) have testified that the White House specifically requested the information about Valerie Wilson before there were any press accounts.]

could it be that this is true? of course, even the prospect of this defense is devastating to the NYT, as Miller is the prime candidate, but again, is it true that Miller gave Plame's name to Libby? and, as for the State Department testimony, note that, Kristof aside, there were no "press accounts" when Miller met Libby in June, and that Kristof's opinion column wouldn't have been considered a "press account"

and, if Miller did so, what was Keller's role, did he green light Miller's release of Plame's name to Libby??

the rest flows through like the Mississippi to the Gulf, if you answer these questions affirmatively: Miller gives Plame's name to Libby, who then gives it to the rest of the White House, who then gives it to Cooper, Novak, et al.

as I posted on the NY Times Public Editor Forum today, I believe that the NYT conspired with the Office of the Vice President, through Libby, to character assassinate Joseph Wilson

if not for the breaking of the law related to the release of a CIA agent's name, you would say that it is something that commonly happens in the Northeast corridor

far fetched, you say? let's go back to that time, where I have already explained the pressurized situation confronted by Keller and Miller in June 2003, so masterfully revealed in the Observer

note also, that they, like Libby, Rove and Co., wouldn't have believed that there was much chance of getting caught

why? here's the thought process that they would have gone through, fairly quickly

(1) the press would make a big deal of it for a week, and then the story would fade

(2) if not, the investigation would be conducted by then Attorney General John Ashcroft, and summarily concluded with no misconduct found ("too hard to prove", "can't find out who did what", they would say)

(3) in the extremely unlikely event that the investigation was more thorough (and, here, they probably never contemplated the prospect that the investigation would get peeled away from Ashcroft), Miller could always fall back upon a journalist's need to protect her sources to bring things to a halt

this was Miller's great utility to the neo-conservatives in the Bush White House: she could participate and do the dirty work, and never contradict anyone's story, like Libby's, because she could smile sweetly and invoke the sanctity of a journalist's need to protect her sources

and, remember, all of them, Rove, Libby, Miller and Keller, were operating in an environment where the ruthless Bush team was considered omnipotent

never in a thousand years did Miller, Keller and Libby believe that Ashcroft would be thrown off the case and the Fitzgerald would take on the media with his subpoenas and force Miller and Cooper to testify

finally, as an aside, don't forget that the Bush Administration was openly paying others, like Armstrong Williams, to propagandize their policy positions in the media

now, in this instance, Miller and Keller did it for love, not money, but now that Miller's journalism career is effectively over, Arianna Huffington has stated that Miller is getting a 1.2 million dollar book contract to tell her story

hush money, anyone? at least, until Fitzgerald (playing his ace) got her to testify that there were no other meetings with Libby other than the July ones, enabling him to thereafter coerce her with the prospect of a perjury indictment, whereby Miller suddenly remembers that, oh gosh!, I forgot all about those notes!

if I were Fitzgerald, as he is supposedly already investigating Libby and Abrams for possible obstruction of justice, I'd also be looking into the suspicious timing of that book contract, especially the crazy idea that you could sell any book by Miller and recover anywhere near that 1.2 million dollar payment

so, maybe, this is why the NYT is so quiet, they are looking at the very real possibility of their own star journalist being indicted for releasing the name of an undercover CIA agent, perjury and obstruction of justice

Posted by: Richard Estes at October 12, 2005 8:07 PM | Permalink

Ominous. The concept it brings to mind is "stewardship." It's a word that came up toward the end of a journalism ethics course I took a long time ago. The class had built up a list of values that a journalist's ethics might aim to uphold. Stewardship was the curve ball, the dark horse entry in our list -- pretty much the only item that took us beyond the process of gathering information and writing and publishing stories and into a realm of broader responsibility. The idea was that in doing our work we all had a part in preserving the media as a whole and of the particular outlets we happened to work for (their very existence and ability to function) -- for the sake of future audiences and future journalists. It feels obvious to say this stuff now but I remember it felt like a revelation back in the classroom. And I've carried it around with me since. I feel like whatever other lapses there may have been in this matter (and there seem to have been many) the stewardship issues are looming larger.

Posted by: David Longobardi at October 12, 2005 8:17 PM | Permalink

I was with you until the end:

And if something like that happened, it’s going to mean the Times was far too “embedded” with the Administration. Times people know it, and dread it.

That's the big secret here? Judy Miller goes to jail for 85 days just so people won't know she has Bush cooties? No freaking way. It has to be deeper and broader than that.

Posted by: brett at October 12, 2005 10:55 PM | Permalink

I guess being labelled an "armchair critic" is a step up from being mocked as a "pajama blogger."

If I may posit my own refined scenario.

I believe Judith's notes from June 23d contained stuff about Wilson...but probably not much more than what was already out there...which she was planning on including in her story...though she would have played it down....that was eventually published on July 30th. But Libby warned her off Wilson - for her own "protection" she came back and passed it on to her co-workers and her other msm friends...and they continued to write their stories about how there definitely still had to be wmds somewhere there in the desert.

The same "suspended state" occurred in the summer of 2003.

Since no articles were forthcoming in the "news" section of the Times...the world had to wait until the news about Wilson again appeared in the far superior - and supposedly separate - editorial section (ummm superior if you ignore the tangled metaphors of the super silly tom friedman).

And that's pathetic. That the "news" part of the "paper of record" was cowed into silence (I don't think they can use the threat of indictment as an excuse for their silence in the summer of 2003).

But I'd rather be wrong. It would be far more exciting if Miller (and ha Jeff Gannon) actually did have something more to hide.

Posted by: Ron Brynaert at October 12, 2005 11:07 PM | Permalink

I'm confused - One side of the NYT (Miller/Keller) is campaigning against another side (Kristof - source is Wilson) about information which may or may not be classified, and individuals who may or may not be covert, and may or may not have confidentiality duties to the CIA. Who is in charge at the NYT, and does the news staff read the editorial pages to see if there's news in there? Do Kristof and Miller not speak or compare notes? Ever?

Posted by: Interested Conservative at October 12, 2005 11:30 PM | Permalink

What strikes me about this case is the militant refusal to learn the obvious lesson. All these articles refer to sources close to the investigation, which appear to be assorted defense attorneys and their assistants. We got into trouble precisely by the use of anonymous sources. Maybe it is time, past time, to give up this pernicious practice.

Posted by: Alice Marshall at October 12, 2005 11:54 PM | Permalink

Oh, the irony -- a newspaper that is a constant critic of the Bush Administration, that is widely accused of coverage distorted to cast Bush policies in a negative light... ends up on the pillory for its support of the sole reporter who wrote articles favorable to a Bush position, articles that incidentally turned out to be false.

This is so strange and virtually unbelievable that I wonder after all: when the smoke clears will Miller really turn out to be the villain Jay implies she'll be?

I think it more likely (because the alternatives are too weird) that the Times will be damaged by its failure to self-cover but that Miller will not suddenly blow up in a hail of indictments and accusations of unethical behavior for being too cozy with Bush.

No, no... I wonder what opinions of her would now be if she was the hero of exposing the inaccuracy of Bush admin intel on WMD, rather than the anti-hero of false WMD reports.

Well, you reply, if she wasn't the false WMD queen, she wouldn't be the kind of reporter to get into her present pickle, so of course we wouldn't be roughing her up now.

Hmmm, I'd say, I think I need this thing to unfold a little more.

Posted by: Lee Kane at October 13, 2005 12:25 AM | Permalink

I liked "incidentally turned out to be false." That was deft.

brett: I didn't say "the Times was far too 'embedded' with the Administration..." is the big secret here. I simply observed that it was one example of the dread among Times people. I gave other descriptions too.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at October 13, 2005 12:55 AM | Permalink

I see this fuss over the 'silence of the Times' and all the speculation as simple frustration that people aren't hearing what they want to hear:

Judy lied. People died.

There seems to be a basic assumption that Wilson was a whistleblower. And that Judy, instead of her pre-Iraq WMD reporting, should have done what Kristoff did later.

Oh, but Kristoff's source was Wilson, the teller of tales himself. Who later debunked a strawman in an op-ed.

Yes, but Judy should have put on her magic skeptic hat and proven that the CIA didn't have a clue. A superwoman such as she could have prevented war!! Oh yes!

There were no stockpiles of chem and bio weapons found in Iraq, and the nuclear program surely wasn't much of anything.

But nobody, not even superwoman Judy, could have proven that from the intelligence we were in possession of before the war.

Sometimes things are really that simple.

The Times has nothing to worry about on that score. It's all made up. Judy reported on wmd's. So? Kristoff made allegations that the administration cooked the intelligence and Wilson was allowed to pen that dishonest op-ed.

I guess you could call it even.

Posted by: Syl at October 13, 2005 1:56 AM | Permalink

Her book deal is worth nothing if she's convicted. She can take whatever advances and royalties she wants, and then Fitzgerald can take them all away again under the heading of "profits of crime". Not very useful hush money there.

I'd like to also point out that people are under no legal obligation to publicly tell the truth about what they said to the grand jury.

Posted by: Dishman at October 13, 2005 2:27 AM | Permalink

Man, I am so pissed at Bill Keller for calling us "armchair critics." Jay has already hinted at how lame it is for the cheese master at the Times to refer to us this way, but let me be a little more straightforward:

Dear Mr. Bill Keller,

You stink, Mr. Bill Keller! You are a giant pooball! I am not an armchair critic -- I am one of your readers. I am a fan of the Times. I like to read your newspaper, and I'm very interested in the stories that are printed in it. In the case of the Plame/Miller hoo-ha, I am interested in the stories that are *not* printed in it. When you call me an "armchair critic," you imply that all I do is relax and sit in my armchair and drink white russians and read the Times and complain about it, while you and Judy and the gang are off slaving away just to keep me fed. Well, I want you to know that I don't even own an armchair -- I take my white russians in a stiff wooden fold-up in front of my computer. Also please know that I consider my time spent reading, discussing, complaining and wondering about the news printed in your paper to be one of my more meaningful pursuits. I would appreciate it if you would please show a little kinder regard for my contribution. I am not an "armchair critic." I am just a lazy reader trying to participate. Feel free to apologize to me for your flippant disrespect.

P.S. I am inclined to give you all the benefit of the doubt on the whole silence thing. People sure are cooking up some crapass theories to explain it. (I've never understood why Miller would ever be motivated to carry out some of the more sinister plots proposed by my some of my comrades-in-armchairs, such as perjuring herself to conceal her june chat with libby.) anyway, I bet things are pretty weird for you all. Hope everything turns out for the best.

Posted by: Dave Johns at October 13, 2005 2:35 AM | Permalink

What would be fascinating would be a prediction market on the 6 potential outcomes you bulletpoint. Odds are that this group would do better than average on figuring it out....

Posted by: Greg Burton at October 13, 2005 3:07 AM | Permalink

Another great piece. It will be interesting to see the look on their faces when the Procul Harum moment definitively arrives. Because it WILL arrive.

She's been lying to HERSELF for years. How or why would we imagine she might suddenly and miraculously develop an ability to tell the truth to anyone--let alone other Times' reporters who, not incidentally, have feared and loathed her country club gonzo journalism for going on two decades?

If Keller hasn't managed to detect Judith Miller's relentless self-deception by now, he deserves the eternal scorn and contempt his own failures of judgment have rightfully earned him.

Posted by: Mark Anderson at October 13, 2005 4:10 AM | Permalink

(None wants to be embarrassed by facts that have yet to come out: that’s my guess.)

When has that stopped the Times' op-edists? Haven't you ever read MoDo, Krugman or Kristof? They'll just ignore any inconvenient "facts" or file a "correction" with even more errors.

Posted by: Mike Veeshir at October 13, 2005 6:21 AM | Permalink


“I didn't say "the Times was far too 'embedded' with the Administration..." is the big secret here. I simply observed that it was one example of the dread among Times people.”

Sorry, but you have used that quote at least twice recently – you seem to agree with the sentiment.

Is it possible that one reporter at the Times would give the administration the benefit of the doubt? I don’t think so but I’ll concede it is possible (it’s possible that the lottery ticket I bought this morning is a big winner).

But to imply (by repeatedly showcasing that quote) that the Times, as an institution, was in bed with the administration is a stretch way too far. They (along with CBS and most of the MSM) did their best to influence a national election - against the administration. There main focus to this day is to highlight anything that could damage the administration. They are "embedded" like a splinter under a fingernail.

Posted by: OCSteve at October 13, 2005 8:53 AM | Permalink

Re the Silent Seven (weekly columnists; Rich makes the Enigmatic Eight) - glancing at heir bios, six have had long careers at the Tinmes and may very well feel some institutional loyalty.

Krugman joined in 1999, kept his day job at Princeton, and is perfectly positioned (politically) to deliver a column bashing Judy, Cheney, Bush, Big Media in bed with government, and so on. The column writes itself, the value of his perch at the Times is diminished by Times Select, he could get another gig elsewhere instantly, and his audience would *L-U-V* it.

Krugman's only problem? He is not "really" a newsman and probably doesn't know three people in the Times newsroom, so he might miss a few facts. As an earlier commenter noted, that is not a likely hindrance.

Brooks is a more recent hire, but I am not sure the subject really grabs him, for lots of obvious reasons.

Posted by: Tom Maguire at October 13, 2005 9:28 AM | Permalink

" club gonzo journalism..."?

Posted by: kilgore trout at October 13, 2005 9:43 AM | Permalink

One feels sorry for "Landman and his crew", because the situation at the Times has devolved to the point where there is no possible explanation for what happened that will satisfy the critics of the Times. Landman has parachuted into a minefield, and regardless of his intentions, its unlikely that he will emerge from this with his own reputation unscathed.

A truly authoritative account would require Miller to disclose her sources and explain her failures in regard to her WMD reporting. Miller's actions appear far more consistent with someone trying to defend her own flawed work-product than trying to "protect a source" on a specific story, and absent a full confession from Miller any account of her actions provided by the Times will raise more questions than it answers. This is an unresolvable problem for Landman....

Then, of course, there is the involvement of Pinch Sulzberger in this whole story. Does anyone expect Landman to be given the authority to fully examine the Pinch/Judy/Keller relationships, and how those relationships resulted in Miller being empowered to ignore the Times own journalistic and ethical standards?

The greatest danger for the Times lies in the fact that Landman's work will doubtless be critical of the Bush administration, and the "push-back" from Rove and company is likely to include information from "anonymous sources" that is damaging to the Times that Landman was never told about. Just as the right-wing noise machine continues its offensive against Joe Wilson, we can expect any honest account of Miller's involvement in this case to result in "the aspens" all turning against Miller herself. It won't be pretty....

Posted by: ami at October 13, 2005 10:44 AM | Permalink

Clarice Feldman, at the American Thinker, has an article up that says Fitzgerald is focussing on Joe Wilson AS THE LIAR. The fabricator of the forged documents. The trail starts with his Op-Ed piece, designed to lay the charge that Bush "lied" to the American people about WHY he was going to war in Iraq. However, the documents didn't show up until 10 months later. And, the fraud was uncovered. AND, the president did not use this information when he spoke at his State of The Union speech, following 9/11.

George Tenet AND Colin Powell are used by the media as operatives that are anti-Bush.

What will Fitzgerald do? I have no idea. But I think there was an attempt (similar to C-BS's) to smear this president.

How can it still have leverage? The 9/11 Commission found Joe Wilson to be a LIAR. Let's see what happens next? IF this is just an attempt to hurt the White House, why assume Fitzgerald will do a "Ronnie Earle?" That stuff's not embarrassing? He may just end this whole thing with NOTHING. No indictments in his report. Because the LEFT will suffer when the story REALLY comes out.

Posted by: Carol_Herman at October 13, 2005 12:47 PM | Permalink

You're right -- they do dread being exposed as Bush apologists. I just would hope that the (formerly) most prestigious newspaper in the country would value its obligation to report the truth more than its anti-Bush street cred.

Posted by: brett at October 13, 2005 12:58 PM | Permalink

Yes, but Judy should have put on her magic skeptic hat and proven that the CIA didn't have a clue. A superwoman such as she could have prevented war!!

The evidence, such as it was, that Iraq had stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction came from Rumsfeld's Office of Special Projects, not from the CIA. Anyone reading the coverage in either Janes or Defense News in the summer of 2002 would know that. There was plenty of evidence that the WMD allegations were a deadly hoax, plenty of knowledgeable people making the case against these claims. Those of us who read the Financial Times, Guardian Group or military contracting trade press had a chance to hear the voices and examine their point of view. Indeed, anyone who read the foreign non-NewsCorp press found plenty of skepticism. Which explains why so many foreign news organizations have gained market share in the United States.

When the NY Times complains that their sources lied to them, well, they sound like Arthur Anderson. It may past muster in a court of law, but it will not allow them to hold on to their market.

Posted by: Alice Marshall at October 13, 2005 1:20 PM | Permalink

Carol Herman is hilarious: "No indictments in his report. Because the LEFT will suffer when the story REALLY comes out." Dream on, dear.

Alice Marshall: "We got into trouble precisely by the use of anonymous sources. Maybe it is time, past time, to give up this pernicious practice"


Posted by: David Ehrenstein at October 13, 2005 1:27 PM | Permalink

Alice. Clinton and several presidential aspirants, not to mention a number of legislators, spoke stoutly in 1998 about the need to do something serious about all those nasty weapons.
Rumsfeld was not SecDef at the time.
What happened?

Posted by: RichardAubrey at October 13, 2005 1:28 PM | Permalink

the long nightmare of the NYT is just beginning

Miller and Libby perjured themselves about that 6/23/03 meeting, and now, it's all going to come out

Miller will end up either under indictment, or as an unindicted co-conspirator, used to compel pleas, and if necessary, testify in court as a hostile witness, where her initial refusal to testify, her perjury and her last minute release of highly pertinent documents, her notes of the 6/23/03 meeting, will all be used to convict Libby, and possibly others associated with him

as for Syl, who would get Miller off the hook for her WMD articles before the war, there were numerous sources of information to the contrary, stating that Iraq possessed no WMDs, and presented no threat to the US, and, of course, it was patently obvious, because, we would have never attacked if Iraq did actually possess them (cf. North Korea)

but, apparently, Syl accepts Miller's own infamous description of a reporter's job: to uncritically transcribe what your politically connnected friends tell you, in other words, limiting your role to, as Bruce Anderson humorously described, a "stenographer"

as for the NYT as a whole, the extent to which the newspaper was embedded with the neo-conservative movement, through people like Sulzberger, Jill Abramson (do a Google search for her LA Times opinion piece about the Middle East sometime), Bill Keller, William Safire, and, of course, Miller, is going to be highlighted for the whole world to see, as the centerpiece of a criminal conspiracy prosecuted by Fitzgerald

it will accelerate the substitution of the Internet for newspapers as sources of information, with all of the contradictions that this entails

and, regardless of the law on profitting from crime, hopefully, Fitzgerald is rooting around to find out more about that book deal, because 1.2 million dollars for a book no one wants to read, just after you have been released to testify in front of a federal grand jury, is certainly worthy of scrutiny

in other words, the law on criminal profitteering is irrelevant as to whether the book deal itself was part of an effort to obstruct justice by impeding Fitzgerald's investigation

Posted by: Richard Estes at October 13, 2005 1:39 PM | Permalink

For all the news that NYT doesn't see fit to print, go directly to Jane Hamsher

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at October 13, 2005 1:49 PM | Permalink

Of course the WMD mistakes that Miller made are something of a tangent here, but the argument that she would have had to be a "superwoman" to uncover the truth just doesn't hold water. And BTW, Mr. Aubrey, that "Clinton made the same mistake" argument only satisfies the partisan hacks. Those who looked for solid information outside of Washington would have found people like Mohamed ElBaradei insisting that there was no credible evidence for an Iraqi nuclear program. He wasn't just guessing. He staked his reputation on that fact, and was demonstrably right.

Miller's mistakes were not simple errors, they were the result of mis-placed trust, and compromised objectivity.

Posted by: fiftyfive at October 13, 2005 1:53 PM | Permalink

Got a call from a Times person who read my post. Times person (TP) said most of it conformed to what TP knew to be the case. Not bad for an armchair guy!

About my speculation that Miller isn't coopering with the Times reporting team, TP did not have any information. Hadn't heard that she isn't, hadn't heard she is. TP suggested that the "DC bureau is angry at being isolated" is, if anything, under-played in my account.

Miller vs. Washington bureau resentments go back to WMD reporting, and when she was deputy bureau chief. Everyone who has said that episode is part of this is, I think, right.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at October 13, 2005 2:22 PM | Permalink

Clinton and several presidential aspirants, not to mention a number of legislators, spoke stoutly in 1998 about the need to do something serious about all those nasty weapons.

To the best of my recollection, Clinton sent a bombing run that took out the remaining facilities. However, my remarks are not directed on the relative merits of this or that president, but concern merely the NYT handling of this crisis. Simply put, they are not addressing the public's concerns and will continue to pay a price in the market place. The Financial Times, Guardian Group, and others will continue to eat away at their market share.

Posted by: Alice Marshall at October 13, 2005 2:38 PM | Permalink

My instincts tell me that Plame's CIA position was no secret to Miller to begin with. Considering her close ties to Chalabi, she had the motive to bring it to light. She certainly would have known how easy it would be to discredit the Joe Wilson screed, and uncover the rogue CIA elements that had decided it was their just calling to sabotage the war.

Miller told some of her reporter friends, they asked the CIA and Rove for verification, and then Novak got it into print.

So the only two questions would be if she knew it was a crime to reveal Plame's job description, and whether it was a crime to begin with, considering Plame's secret identity was already compromised for years.

Then the question becomes was it a crime for Joe Wilson to reveal his secret CIA mission in an op-ed.

Posted by: Korla Pundit at October 13, 2005 3:00 PM | Permalink

Alice and fifty-five:

I am not going to get distracted into a discussion of the merits of one president or another.
My remarks about Clinton are designed to question whether Rummy's special office was the only source. If it was not, which it could not have been in Clinton's tenure, then Alice's point fails. Clinton did some bombing, but there was no claim about taking out anything definitive.
elBaradei, whose award of the Nobel Peace Prize just damaged its standing even more than some of its earlier recipients, is not credible. Where was he on Libya's program? And what has he done on Iran's program? He can stake his rep on it, which is to say nothing, since his rep is meaningless. Even he must know that. If he doesn't, he's so delusional or dishonest that he oughtn't be the go-to guy on who's got what.

Satisfying partisan hacks is a silly thing to say.
The point is that the WMD issue preceded Rumsfeld and Bush. So perhaps there was something there that wasn't made up by the current administration.

Miller's WMD reporting figures in the Fitzgerald procedings how? Other than being a reason for lefties to want her burned at the stake, what is the current relevance?
Now, I understand that part of the issue may be that she needs a limited question area to avoid mentioning others she talked to about WMD, but that seems tertiary at best. She's not up there because of WMD. Fitz doesn't seem to have been a BushliedPeopledied advocate, so MillerliedPeopledied probably isn't his thing just now.
It might be more accurate to say that, if Fitzgerald is being more than scrupulously careful, and anally detail-oriented with regard to Miller, it might be because she ratted out a couple of investigations earlier. He must be feeling like Friday afternoon of a tough week, and if he stays on task, maybe he's got a personal reason for extra effort.

Posted by: RichardAubrey at October 13, 2005 3:04 PM | Permalink

This is unreal. The Plame story is of but passing interest to the vast majority of the citizens, and yet it is the subject of such obsessive focus by the bloggerati that layer upon layer of densely constructed speculation is piled on top. This story will play out soon and it will be fascinating to see what was really going on. In the meantime, take a deep breath of air and look around you. Pinter has won a Nobel prize, Google might be buying AOL, Apple is out with an interesting new video product and a complex relationship with Disney and ABC, the Wall Street Journal is cutting its size down, and on and on. Surely there is something else to write about that's fresh and that is not stuffed as full of speculation as the Plame story?

Posted by: John at October 13, 2005 3:09 PM | Permalink

Nice work Jay. I remember that woman at the WMI conference asking if you would ever break news, and I guess you did, and it seems pretty solid according the TP guy.

Actually, given the size and scope of the Times, I wonder if all newspapers will be spattered with a little of Miller explosion.

Posted by: JennyD at October 13, 2005 3:22 PM | Permalink

Miller's WMD reporting figures in the Fitzgerald proceedings how?

From a legal point of view not at all. I am not a lawyer and I don't pretend to know what Fitzgerald plans to do.

From the point of view of the NYT reputation it matters a great deal. The reporter who took the lead in stampeding our country into war under false pretenses is also implicated in the betrayal of the CIA Case Officer who tracked weapons of mass destruction. From the point of view of the NYT it could hardly get any worse.

Only it may get worse, for there is another shoe to drop. Jeff Gerth is also facing a contempt of court order which is currently under appeal.

As someone with a vested interest in the continued success of the NYT, I am concerned with the crisis communications aspect and corporate reputation management side of this case.

Posted by: Alice Marshall at October 13, 2005 3:36 PM | Permalink

You are correct, Jenny. In light of the Wall Street Journal's reporting ....

Reached Wednesday afternoon, Ms. Miller declined to say whether she would be giving an interview to the Times.

..... Jay's thesis looks prescient.

To be fair, she didn't say no -- but neither did she say yes.
It may be that the Times' Procul Harum moment is upon us, even as we speak.

Posted by: Steve Lovelady at October 13, 2005 5:07 PM | Permalink

It's interesting that people at the Times would dread the discovery that a reporter was "embedded" in an administration. Huh? I always assume that they're embedded in both the bureaucracy and current political administration.

That doesn't make them apparatchiks.


Posted by: Sisyphus at October 13, 2005 5:13 PM | Permalink

Methinks that having a reporter embedded in the administration is not what strikes dread in the hearts of the newsroom.
Rather, it's discovering that the administration has a few moles of its own, embedded at the Times.
That's gotta put a bit of chill on conversation at the water cooler -- not to mention at the page one meeting.

Posted by: Steve Lovelady at October 13, 2005 5:45 PM | Permalink

Meanwhile, E&P reports that the Society for Professional Journalists is giving St. Judy an award.

And farther down the rabbit hole we go.

Posted by: Dave McLemore at October 13, 2005 7:03 PM | Permalink

Calame promises that he will get back to us....

Now is the Time....

it seems pretty obvious that Calame is feeling the heat for his abject failure to do his job. He finds a multitude of excuses, including the novel claim that the Times itself was in legal jeopardy. ("But they declined to fully respond to my fundamental questions because, they said, of the legal entanglements of Ms. Miller and the paper." (emphasis added.) And correct me if I'm wrong, but the Times was not under supoena in this case, and had no "legal entanglements." The "legal entanglements" were Miller's alone, and Calame is trying to assert that Keller and Sulzberger's decision to maintain silence about what was going on with Miller was not a personal choice, but being done on the advice of the Times lawyers.

Or, to put it another way, Calame is spinning his failure to comment up until this point by following the "company line"....

Posted by: ami at October 13, 2005 7:07 PM | Permalink


Just discovered your blog, and it now has a top-tier bookmark. I've now read several of your pieces, and apologies for going OT rambling in my first post. Won't make it a habit, going OT rambling that is.

I don't know nearly as much as I'd like to (?) about Bill Keller, but I do know that all of my emails to the NYT Public Editor have been a waste of time, and that Keller and the NYT reporting are a huge disappointment. I have a special curiosity about Keller because he graduated from Pomona College in 1970 (I did too, slightly earlier) during the Vietnam years, and the place was hardly a conservative bastion. Once I learned that Keller had this connection (I didn't know him) I made the incorrect assumption that he would have come out of that tumultuous place and time with political views not so different from mine (naive, I know now). When I try to search on google to find out more about Keller's political views or connections, I get a huge number of pages, impossible to sort through very quickly. So, if you or anyone has a good link that actually examines whether or not he has neo-con connections, I'd appreciate it.

And, this is a huge OT stretch, but Michael Ledeen, who some place at the center of the forged Niger documents, and it obviously a neo-con, also graduated from Pomona College (don't know more). Naturally, this concidence struck me, as I'm always on the look-out for "famous" alums, and it's a small place. For now, I trust that it is coincidence, that is unless someone can point me to obvious evidence of Keller being embedded with the Neo-cons.

And, finally, re: Judith Miller. I've seen various speculation from many angles as to why Miller did not testify before, given that she apparently had a "release" from Libby a good while back. Mostly the comments address why she now (just) testified, e.g. pressure from Fitzgerald who had the goods anyway. As to why she refused to testify way back when, and went to jail instead, there's one explanation that I haven't seen (so far in my readings), and that is: she was trying to run out the clock on the Fitzgerald gj investigation. Maybe, again, I'm being naive and that this is so obvious that no one mentions it.

So, to wind this up... thanks for your great pieces. (Mostly I've read the recent ones, but the CBS letter was great too.)

Posted by: Valley Girl at October 13, 2005 7:12 PM | Permalink

ami. You don't need to be subpoenaed to think you might be in trouble. Keeping quiet might seem like a prudent course. Usually is.

Posted by: RichardAubrey at October 13, 2005 8:39 PM | Permalink

The Associated Press quotes our favorite "armchair critic" (N.Y. Times 'frustrated' by Miller story):

The Times' silence has led some pundits, such as New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen to criticize the paper.

"Not only is the Times not operating properly, it's unable to say to readers: here's why we're not," Rosen wrote on his media commentary site called PressThink.

Posted by: Ron Brynaert at October 13, 2005 9:47 PM | Permalink

>"The 9/11 Commission found Joe Wilson to be a LIAR."

> Really? Please produce the quote and evidence proving this.
> Methinks truth-stretching has ocurred in your mind to create
> this theory.

I believe that poster meant to refer to the Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA, which did in fact conclude that Wilson lied both about his wife's role in his selection and in that his report actually bolstered, rather than weakened, the case that Saddam had been seeking uranium.

Click here for a refresher...

Posted by: Korla Pundit at October 13, 2005 10:04 PM | Permalink

ami. You don't need to be subpoenaed to think you might be in trouble. Keeping quiet might seem like a prudent course. Usually is.

except that Calame discussed "legal entanglements" for the paper as if they actually existed, rather than "potential legal entanglements." If one assumes that the Times has been operating on the up-and-up, and accepts the Times' claim that it supported Miller as a matter of journalistic principle, it would not have any "potential legal entanglements."

Note that I'm not saying that I think the Times is part of some vast conspiracy; rather that Calame is using a bogus excuse to explain why he hasn't done his job. Judy Miller's legal problems should not have been an issue for Calame. Nor, in fact, should any potential or actual legal "entanglements" for the paper have prevented Calame from doing his job.

The fact is that no such entanglements existed for the newspaper, yet Calame is claiming that they were the reason for his silence.

Such a claim only makes the questions regarding Calame's integrity and suitability for the Ombudsman job more prominent than they were before....

Posted by: ami at October 13, 2005 10:25 PM | Permalink

Korla Pundit:

Oh, please.

Power Line ? That's your case for your interpretation of Joe Wilson's remarks ?

Might as well cite Brent Bozell, or Little Green Footballs, or the Republican National Committee, or the Swift Boat Veterans, or any number of other avidly partisan shills.

Press Think is trying its best to be a serious blog, where the coin of the realm is information, not propaganda.

The least that all of us can do is to accept that implicit contract that Jay offers his readers.

Posted by: Steve Lovelady at October 13, 2005 11:06 PM | Permalink

Steve. If you didn't exist, the folks who think the press is biased sinister would have to invent you.
Or did I already say that?

Herewith the example you don't know you provided us:

Korla provided information you don't like. The source was a Senate investigating committee. But, in order to discredit the information you don't like, you point with scorn to the intervening link. As if being quoted by Powerline makes the Senate information wrong. Senate information might be wrong, but if it's right, running it through Powerline doesn't make it wrong.

Isn't Powerline one of the folks who caught Rather? No wonder you don't like them.

Don't you get it, Steve? That doesn't work. I don't know if it ever did, but it sure as hell doesn't work now. How many different ways do you have to be told?

Posted by: RichardAubrey at October 13, 2005 11:38 PM | Permalink

No, it's you who don't get it, Richard.
It's not the Senate Intelligence Committee that Korla is citing; it's Power Line's selective excerpts from, and interpretation of, the Committee's report that he is relying upon.
Not that the Senate "information," in its bald state, is necessarily correct, which, as you, to your credit, acknowlege -- let's face it, it's Pat Roberts' commitee -- but let's not pretend that said report is Korla's source.
His source is the "truth" as determined by Power Line and that is what he passes off on us.
Don't you get it, Richard ?
That is what doesn't work.

Posted by: Steve Lovelady at October 14, 2005 12:10 AM | Permalink

"Miller's WMD reporting figures how?"--Richard Aubrey

Excellent Question

How about Judith Miller's WMD "reporting," like the Plame outing, was achieving the goals of the White House Iraq Group and Libby and Rove were central players in that group?

How about Wilson's attack on the White House Iraq Group'a agenda revealed Miller's own "reporting" as the government sponsored psy-ops that it was?

How about "People in the Washington bureau [of the New York Times] tried unsuccessfully to persuade editors that her reporting about weapons of mass destruction was wrong."--Howard Fineman, Washington Post
This means her position as the civilian front for the White House Iraq Group destroyed the reputation of the very Washington Bureau reporters who pleaded with Times' editors to kill her hacktacular front page WMD propaganda exclusives and Miller went to jail in the Plame case to preserve the White House Iraq Group's First Amendment right to put out hits on people like New York Times' Washington bureau reporters who might tell truths that happen to embarrass the Bush administration or Judy Miller.

How about that by backing Miller's refusal to expose White House liars that violated the Times' own codes on anonymous sources, Sulzberger and Keller have effectively done Miller one better and made the Times' the official media front for the White House Iraq Group?

What kind of connection could there possibly be between Judith Miller being at the scene of the crime for the hit on Plame/Wilson put out by the White House Iraq Group and Miller's previous twelve months planting already discredited stories the White House Iraq Group wanted planted in supposedly "neutral" media (and which her colleagues were trying to spike at the time because they were so poorly sourced), which Cheney and the war party referred to ad nauseam in war party pep talks, and which the Plame/Wilson hit was put out in defense of?

Richard Aubrey,
You apparently share Bill Keller and Pinch Sulzberger's inability to see anything here other than rumor and innuendo. Perhaps you should consider the possibility that Miller and Sulzberger's Times is more your kind of paper than you previously realized.

Posted by: Mark Anderson at October 14, 2005 2:15 AM | Permalink

Sorry, I got my Howards confused. The link above is obviously to Howard Kurtz, not Howard Fineman.

Posted by: Mark Anderson at October 14, 2005 3:26 AM | Permalink

Actually, the Powerline blog quoted extensively from a 10 July 2004 Washington Post article on the Senate Intelligence Committee report. The three paragraphs below are from that article.

" The panel found that Wilson's report, rather than debunking intelligence about purported uranium sales to Iraq, as he has said, bolstered the case for most intelligence analysts. And contrary to Wilson's assertions and even the government's previous statements, the CIA did not tell the White House it had qualms about the reliability of the Africa intelligence that made its way into 16 fateful words in President Bush's January 2003 State of the Union address.
Yesterday's report said that whether Iraq sought to buy lightly enriched "yellowcake" uranium from Niger is one of the few bits of prewar intelligence that remains an open question. Much of the rest of the intelligence suggesting a buildup of weapons of mass destruction was unfounded, the report said.
The report turns a harsh spotlight on what Wilson has said about his role in gathering prewar intelligence, most pointedly by asserting that his wife, CIA employee Valerie Plame, recommended him.

This is the Washington Post not Powerline. So now we are down to the "truth" as determined by the Washington Post. I think it shows that reasonable people have questions about the veracity of at least some of Wilson’s statements. Whether or not you want to call him a liar sort of depends on how you choose to look at things.

Posted by: Abad man at October 14, 2005 4:06 AM | Permalink

I would say this counts as evidence for my thesis-- Miller will not cooperate. You? From Salon's Friday story:

On Wednesday afternoon, that justification vanished. Miller made her second appearance before the grand jury, and Hogan then lifted the contempt order. Bill Keller, the paper's executive editor, told Times reporter David Johnston that the judge's ruling "should clear the way for The Times to do what we've been yearning to do: tell the story." Asked by Salon to clarify this statement -- did Keller mean that Miller would talk to Times reporters who are charged to investigate her role in the Plame case? -- Keller was cagey: "If you're patient, you'll read your answer in our paper," he wrote in an e-mail. (Miller's attorneys did not return calls for comment.)

Posted by: Jay Rosen at October 14, 2005 5:07 AM | Permalink

Wowzer: The Society of Professional Journalists is going to be sorry...Of course she may not show. On the other hand she may think a hero's welcome will be due her, so she will show. Who knows? From a SPJ mailing list:

New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who was jailed for four months for refusing to reveal a confidential source, will speak at SPJ's national conference [in Las Vegas] at 8:15- 9 a.m., Oct. 18. Following the speech, Miller will receive a First Amendment Award and join a panel discussion titled "The Reporter's Privilege Under Siege." Joining her on the panel will be Associated Press reporter Josef Hebert, Patricia Hurtado of Newsday and Bruce Sanford of Baker and Hostetler. Don't miss it.


Posted by: Jay Rosen at October 14, 2005 5:26 AM | Permalink

Steve. Maybe you can think of a reason the WaPo is a bunch of redneck rightwingers. Hurry. There are people who pull this stuff who, I sort of think, know they're screwing the pooch. They know it's merely a tactic designed to shut up the bearer of inconvenient information. You, I get the impression, really believe.
I remember having a discussion about male-female discrimination and I mentioned the differential between men and women in terms of workplace deaths. It's a workers compensation issue and I'm in the insurance business. "Oh," said the other party, "you got that from Farrell." The implication, as you will readily see, was that this made the figures meaningless at best. Actually, I got it from some work comp figures. But it turns out that, 1, Farrell, whoever he is, is unpopular with feminists, and, 2, quoted roughly the same figures but from the Dept. of Labor. Perhaps you think you invented this schtick.

Mark Anderson. I should have been more specific.
I meant what about the WMD issue is important to the Fitzgerald operation?

Posted by: RichardAubrey at October 14, 2005 7:23 AM | Permalink

Looks like she planned a victory tour. Dan Gillmor reports:

Miller will be speaking this weekend -- or so I've been told -- at the California First Amendment Coalition's annual Open Government Assembly in Fullerton, California. I'm heading down there tomorrow (doing a keynote and a panel), and will be fascinated to see what California journalists' reaction is to her.

From what I have been able to tell, Miller has so far ducked every situation where she might be asked hard questions by fellow journalists. I would be surprised if she shows for this one.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at October 14, 2005 9:07 AM | Permalink

PressThinkers: Should I complain about this? William Powers in the National Journal:

Old-fashioned job titles like "staff writer" and "network correspondent" are starting to feel Paleolithic. "Citizen journalism" and "user-generated news" are all the rage. There are influential Web sites devoted to the topic, most prominently, a blog run by New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen, who writes about "decertifying" the press. True, we haven't heard as much about bloggers as we were hearing a year ago, when they were briefly the No. 1 vogue topic in American popular culture.

De-certifying was used at PressThink in description of the Bush White House marginalizing the press corps and overriding it. It had, when introduced, nothing to do with citizen journalism or the amateur/professional tension. Yet Powers uses it as part of the discussion because it is convenient.

And is PressThink really a web site devoted to the topic of "user-generated content," which is a phrase I have never employed?

Posted by: Jay Rosen at October 14, 2005 10:25 AM | Permalink

Might as well cite Brent Bozell, or Little Green Footballs, or the Republican National Committee, or the Swift Boat Veterans, or any number of other avidly partisan shills.

You forgot the CJR in your list of avidly partisan shills.

Since you didn't like the Powerline link, here's a WashPost link. With this quote:

Wilson's assertions -- both about what he found in Niger and what the Bush administration did with the information -- were undermined yesterday in a bipartisan Senate intelligence committee report.

Lovelady 0
Drooling Morons 3

Posted by: Veeshir at October 14, 2005 10:58 AM | Permalink

The washpost article in question was written by "Steno" Sue Schmidt, who is notorious for being the conduit for White House spin --- she is to Washington politics what Judy Miller was to WMDs....

The Senate report itself was filled with spin, and key omissions of important information specifically designed to make Wilson look bad. One critical exclusion is that no mention is made of how the memo written by Plame came into being --- if you read the Senate report, you get the impression that Plame volunteered Wilson's name, and pushed his services. The reality is that her supervisor asked Plame if Wilson would be willing to check out the "yellowcake" story, and asked Plame to write a memo of recommendation that explained why Wilson would be a good choice.

None of this made it into "Steno Sue's" piece...she was too busy to pick up the phone and ask Wilson to comment, apparently.

Posted by: ami at October 14, 2005 11:36 AM | Permalink

I think your question about this journalistic "treatment" of your term "de-certifying" goes to the heart of one of the failures of the contemporary press, that there is little or no apparent penalty for sloppiness or willfull ignorance.

The Gore-Love Story meme in 2000 was Washington beat reporter common sense grounded in similar invention by reportial incompetence. But your example appears even more straight forward. You do certainly promote exploring alternatives to the current journalistic status quo at the institutional level, but he appears to imagine you are personally launching a press decertification campaign of some sort. It reads like hearsay or a product of the game of "telephone."

At first it just sounds like an old man venting about the new-fangled words kids these days are throwing around. Or a conservative venting that fashion has overtaken principle once again, but mainly it just sounds lazy and ill-informed.

Is this guy printing cocktail conversation he eavesdropped on? Is this a product of motive? Incompentence? A Freudian combination of the two?

Why does there appear to be so little penalty for the relentless evacuation of reality these daily failing grade performances add up to? Is it ultimately a question of turf and not bruising large egos that are on the correct side of a political fence? A fundamental lack of curiosity and intellectual responsibility? What's your armchair take on this one?

I'd be very interested to see the results if you attempted to make this a conversation, even if only to find out what William Powers thought he was trying to say or how he defends getting paid to share his ignorance with the public.

Posted by: Mark Anderson at October 14, 2005 12:33 PM | Permalink

I'm with Anderson on this. What other business or profession allows it's employees to screw up time after time with no consequence? I've given up hope that the press will ever be held accountable for all the false information they have disseminated (another reason to fight the Federal Shield Law for "journalists"), but my fantasy solution would be to have a computer compile how often a reporter was right as opposed to how many times the reporter was wrong. Then, when a bylined article appeared, it would read thus: By Joe Blow 85% wrong; 15% right. This way the reader could judge the veracity of the reporting done by Joe Blow.

The lack of accountablity in the press makes me assume they are on the same footing as tenured professors and union workers and it's just too much of a hassle to fire someone, even if there is just cause.

So, I say, go for it Jay. Powers has misrepresented what you do here and you should demand a correction. Don't forget that when the Jayson Blair poop was going down, Pinch was shocked, SHOCKED, that the public didn't report Blair's lies because the public just assumed the NYTimes lied.

As a further bonus, if you're teaching this year, this would be good role-modeling for your students.

Posted by: kilgore trout at October 14, 2005 2:35 PM | Permalink

Now I know why I so seldom write anything on these blogs, it is so pointless. (Sorry Jay this is going to go way off topic.) I mean, what will it take for proof that Wilson is at least a little factually challenged if the findings of a Senate committee are not good enough? Is it such a stretch to believe that Wilson had political motives for his actions, that he is not an honest broker? If Wilson was less than truthful, as the Senate report seemed to indicate, how are his actions different from the administration’s on the topic of WMD? Did not he also manipulate and use the press to further his political goals? Where is the outrage about that? Is this another instance of fake but accurate? If a DA knows someone has broken the law is it OK for him to make up evidence? If not then why should it be tolerated in the news? Over two years after all of this started and we still do not know the whole truth, be it Miller/WMD/Libby/Rove/lies or Wilson/Plame/Nigeria/lies. Yeah blame a secretive administration for some of it, but some is due to an unwillingness of the press to take a hard look at itself. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of the press, but hey you guys can get angry during natural disasters so you must be doing something right.

So who can I trust for the truth? Miller? If I listen to Ami I can’t trust the Senate, or the Washington Post for that matter. I find it hard to believe Steve Lovelady did not know about the WaPo article when he made his remarks about Powerline so can I trust him for the whole truth about anything? Do I think he lied? No, but neither do I think he dispensed the whole truth. This reflects my feelings for most of the media. I can’t trust you, and I don’t think I am alone in my feelings. Just giving you some free association from one of the great unwashed.

In some ways I see a lot of the furor over this Miller thing as a crisis of trust within the journalism profession. They are wondering if they can trust one of their own … if they can trust the institution of the press. Maybe now you can understand at least some of my frustration. Welcome to my world.

I will go back to lurking now.

Posted by: Abad man at October 14, 2005 2:36 PM | Permalink

Veeshir --

I'm here to have a conversation, not to score points.

But since you're apparently keeping some sort of count for your own amusement, I think you need to adjust the scoreboard to reflect Ami's touchdown.

Posted by: Steve Lovelady at October 14, 2005 3:02 PM | Permalink

Steve. Are you referring to ami's dissing of yet another conduit for information as a way of discrediting the information?
Basically, all you need is to compare Wilson's report with his op-ed, and it's that latter that's given all the lefties the permanent drools.
What's the Latin word for, cerebrograniticus? craniusimpervium? Boy. That's going back to 1960.

Posted by: RichardAubrey at October 14, 2005 3:15 PM | Permalink

I'm sympathetic to the sentiment, Richard.
But lets not throw out the baby with the bath water.
If we do away with all "dissing of yet another conduit for information," 99% of Press Think contributors are going to be left with nothing to talk about.

Posted by: Steve Lovelady at October 14, 2005 3:42 PM | Permalink

Could it be...and this may be way out on a limb... that a very fast book is on the way from Miller so she can have total control of the "lay of the land" and then give interviews.

The Times, of course, has a problem and as a long time reader I am perplexed and sad. They need to have a major report and tell everything that they discover.

Posted by: Gregory at October 14, 2005 7:15 PM | Permalink

Yeah a converstaion with an umpire who deletes points that score. No thanks.

Posted by: EH at October 14, 2005 8:23 PM | Permalink

If we do away with all "dissing of yet another conduit for information," 99% of Press Think contributors are going to be left with nothing to talk about.

That obviously includes you, but speak for yourself.

See, that's one of the problems right now, people feel that they can just discount something because of the source without actually trying to see if the source is accurate. I understand that you will discount anything that doesn't fit your preconceptions, but that's not good journalism.
It ill befits someone at the CJR to have that attitude.
While I will generally ignore the CJR because I know they're hyperpartisan shills for the liberal MSM, if I discount what they say I feel that I have to prove it and not just say, "Well, those hyperpartisans still have not admitted that Dan Rather's memos were fake therefore, what they are saying now is obviously wrong."
That's not how it works. Not if you are trying to find the truth instead of just 'winning one for your side'.
I see how the CJR feels about that and that's just depressing.

Posted by: Veeshir at October 15, 2005 6:30 AM | Permalink

From the Intro