A Miller Apologia

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Oct. 17 2005 4:55 PM

A Miller Apologia

Bloggers discuss the New York Times account of reporter Judith Miller's involvement in Plamegate. They also celebrate Saturday's mostly peaceful constitutional referendum in Iraq.

A Miller apologia: The New York Times  has published its much-anticipated internal account of reporter Judith Miller's involvement with the federal investigation into the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame (as well as Miller's first-person report).

"I give credit to the Times … for giving readers a look inside at decision-making normally hidden, for airing uncomfortable facts—including internal tensions—and for explaining what happened as well as the editors felt they could," writes professor of journalism and Plamegate point man Jay Rosen, at Press Think. However, he characterizes Miller as cocky and dogmatic and knocks publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. for letting Miller direct both the legal strategy and public position of the paper.

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Most observers point out that Miller's account leaves the biggest question unanswered. "Who told Judy about Valerie Plame (or 'Flame' as the name appears in Judy's notes)?" asks blog magnate Arianna Huffington. "According to these two pieces, the name was immaculately conceived." At the Mighty Middle, writer Michael Reynolds is flabbergasted by Miller's partial-amnesia defense."I believe that's a lie," he writes. "I believe it is a deliberate, calculated lie." At News Blog, aggregator Steve Gilliard heartily agrees. Both bloggers call for her to be fired.

Others are equally unsatisfied. "The story leaves open questions about why Miller would not contact her source, Scooter Libby, to get his blessing for her testimony … and then, after dragging the paper into jail with her, she did," remarks critic Jeff Jarvis at BuzzMachine. "She blames her sources for getting WMDs wrong, Libby for going to jail, and her editors — who stood by her at cost to them — for her unheroic welcome. In a phrase: what a case she is."

"Miller doesn't coming out of this looking like a journalistic Joan of Arc," agrees journalist Joe Gandelman at the Moderate Voice. At Talking Points Memo,leading liberal Joshua Micah Marshall also impugns Miller's journalistic ethics, particularly her willingness to knowingly mislead readers by sourcing information obtained from Libby to "a former Hill staffer."

"So what will happen next?" asks conservative Tom Maguire, who's been following the story closely at JustOneMinute. "Quickly - Rove is in trouble… I am handicapping the probability of a Rove indictment as about 50%... Libby has moved up in my rankings, and is now the most likely official to be indicted of whom we are aware." Attorney John Hinderaker, by contrast, thinks the Times report exonerates Libby. At conservative syndicate Power Line, he calls Miller's peculiar account "a low-comedy conclusion to a low-comedy investigation."

For some, the journalistic implications are clearer than the political ones. "It's now clear confinement wasn't pointless," writesSlate's Mickey Kaus, in an exegetic Kausfiles post. "It worked for the prosecutor exactly as intended. … The message sent to every prosecutor in the country is 'Don't believe journalists who say they will never testify. A bit of hard time and they just might find a reason to change their minds. Judy Miller did.' This is the victory for the press the Times has achieved. More journalists will now go to jail, quite possibly, than if Miller had just cut a deal right away, before taking her stand on 'principle.'"

Read more about Miller and more about Valerie Plame.

Iraq referendum: Early reports suggest that the proposed Iraqi Constitution, put to a national referendum Saturday, should pass. "Officials said as many as 63 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in Saturday's election, above the 58 percent seen in January," notes CNN.

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