The NYT retreats, incoherently, on Miller.

A mostly political Weblog.
Oct. 24 2005 1:58 PM

The NYT Retreats, Incoherently

An "entanglement" exception to the First Amendment?

(Continued from Page 7)

Fitzgerald's Choice: If, like me, you often find yourself lost in the tedious underbrush of the Plame story, this Maguire post--unlike some other Maguire posts!--provides a clarifying template. ...12:32 P.M.

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1. Preposterous blog speculation congealed into conventional wisdom  that turned out to be wrong: The   idea that   NYT reporter Judy Miller toldCheney aide Libby that Bush critic Joe Wilson's wife worked at the CIA, rather than vice versa.

2. Preposterous blog speculation congealed into conventional wisdom that turned out to be right: The idea that Libby seemed to be coaching Miller in his infamous 'aspens are turning' letter, which noted pointedly that other reporters had testified "they did not discuss Ms. Plame's name or identity" with Libby. Special prosecutor Fitzgerald actually asked Miller about this possible coaching, and Miller says the thought occurred to her too:

I replied that this portion of the letter had surprised me because it might be perceived as an effort by Mr. Libby to suggest that I, too, would say we had not discussed Ms. Plame's identity.

In the event, while Miller's notes undermined Libby's claim that he didn't discuss her "identity," she certainly seems to have done the best job possible of minimizing the connection between Libby and Plame's name, given its appearance in those notes.  The aspens may have intertwined roots after all.

3. Did Judy's lawyer scam the special prosecutor? According to the NYT, Miller's lawyer,

Mr. [Robert] Bennett, who by now had carefully reviewed Ms. Miller's extensive notes taken from two interviews with Mr. Libby, assured Mr. Fitzgerald that Ms. Miller had only one meaningful source. Mr. Fitzgerald agreed to limit his questions to Mr. Libby and the Wilson matter.

But a key question is who told Miller the name "Valerie Plame," which she miswrote as "Valerie Flame" in her notebook. Miller says she's not sure it was Libby. Therefore it might have been someone else--i.e. she might well have had another very "meaningful" source, contrary to Bennett's alleged representations to the prosecutor.  Am I missing something, or does Fitzgerald have grounds for being extremely p-----d off? (Arianna  also makes this point.)

4. Why is Pinch ashamed?

"Maybe a deal was possible earlier," Mr. [NYT publisher Arthur] Sulzberger said. "And maybe, in retrospect, looking back, you could say this was a moment you could have jumped on. If so, shame on us. I tend to think not."