Judith Miller has a new alibi—the blogs done her in!
Writer Marie Brenner presents Miller's latest defense in an April Vanity Fair feature story about the fallout from the Valerie Plame investigation. Brenner, acknowledging she's a friend of the former New York Times reporter, writes that while still in Iraq in May 2003, Miller became a "major target in the intense public anger directed at Bush's war, owing to her reports that Saddam Hussein was producing weapons of mass destruction."
The ones tossing the fire were those dastardly—but unnamed—bloggers, according to Miller. Upon returning to New York later in May, Miller met with the Times' two top editors, Howell Raines and Gerald Boyd, who were then battling a staff revolt triggered by the Jayson Blair scandal. They acknowledged the "flak" her stories had gotten and told her foreign editor Roger Cohen did not want her to go back to Iraq. Cohen opposed her return because, as he tells Brenner, "There were concerns about her sources and her sourcing." Still, Miller managed a quick trip to Iraq.
In June, back in New York, "Miller realized that she was losing her authority" inside the Times. "None of my colleagues ever spoke to me about my reporting. But they would say, 'We don't want to work with her.' "
In August, Bill Keller replaced Raines as executive editor, and according to Miller, he told her, "You are radioactive. … You can see it in the blogs."
"I'm pretty sure I never said any such thing," Keller tells Brenner. (This isn't the only recent "he said, she said" story in which Miller comes out the loser. See this sidebar.)
Miller describes to Vanity Fair the process by which the Pajama People destroyed her:
The bloggers were without editing, without a way for people to understand what was good, what was well reported—to distinguish between the straight and the slanderous. Things would get instantly picked up, magnified, and volumized.
(Sounds more like what my hairdresser does with my thinning locks. But never mind.)
In Miller's mind, the bloggers not only poisoned her relationship with the Times brass but also with her colleagues, who, she says, "believed what they read on the blogs."