Story Judith Miller Got Right
Satire by Dennis Hans
The New York Times has finally acknowledged the serious
flaws in many of the stories written by Judith Miller and
other staff reporters about Iraq's alleged WMD programs. If
that had been all that Miller wrote about in recent years,
her career would be in jeopardy. But within the time frame
of her WMD coverage she penned several solid stories for the
sports department. One is regarded as the greatest scoop in
the history of Times sports.
As an admirer of Miller, it is with great pride that I reproduce
it here, with her permission.
Embedded reporter reveals Raiders won 2003 Super Bowl
By Judith Miller
New York Times
SAUSALITO, CALIFORNIA, March 15, 2003 - A respected accountant
who is a member of the Sausalito chapter of the Oakland Raiders
Fan Club has told a friend who told his cousin who told this
reporter that he (the respected accountant) has provided evidence
to the National Football League that the Raiders nipped the
Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2003 Super Bowl.
Based on that evidence, which this reporter and her editors
have not yet seen, the New York Times has disavowed
earlier stories filed the night of the game that proclaimed
a Bucs victory.
This reporter spent Super Bowl week embedded with a close-knit
group of Raiders fans who reside in the northern California
town of Sausalito. In return for extraordinary access to nearly
a third of the fan-club chapter's 29 members, this reporter
and her editors agreed to grant these fans the right to review
everything the reporter wrote about her embedded week and
delete any words they deemed injurious to club security. The
Times also granted the fans the right to set the publication
date for any story, which is why this one is appearing today,
March 15, rather than February 7, when it was first submitted
for fan-club approval.
Over the course of seven days prior to the Super Bowl, it
became increasingly apparent to this reporter that this particular
group of fans knew a great deal about football and thus would
have great credibility, after the event, on the question of
which team won. Several had been watching pro football for
more than 30 years and could recall the winner and loser of
"matches," as the contests are called, played decades ago.
This reporter attended a pre-game party with the fans in
a ranch house in a Sausalito subdivision, the name of which
cannot be divulged at this time. Thirty minutes before kickoff,
however, the reporter was ushered into a soundproof room in
the basement, where she remained without access to TV or radio
until the next morning.
That morning, this reporter spoke to the cousin of the friend
of the accountant/fan who had evidence of a Raiders victory.
The cousin accompanied the reporter to a flower bed by a window
that provided a clear view of a large recreation room. The
cousin pointed to a silver-and-black sofa, where he said the
accountant had viewed the game from the left-most cushion
and jotted down in a silver-and-black notebook details on
every scoring play, including the Raiders' game-winning touchdown
pass, caught by someone named Jerry Rice, as the clock expired.
This reporter was not permitted to see the notebook, though
she was taken to a Sausalito drug store and spoke with a clerk
who confirmed that the accountant had indeed purchased a silver-and-black
notebook early in the football season. The clerk and a patron
both said that they had heard of Mr. Rice and that he was
indeed employed by the Raiders. The clerk showed this reporter
a Raiders team photo on a calendar on sale for $14.99, pointed
to a slender African American man with an "80" on his jersey,
and said "That's him! That's Jerry Rice."
That afternoon, this reporter arranged for a second meeting
with the cousin in the flower bed outside the recreation-room
The cousin said there was a big-screen TV up against the
one wall we could not see from the flower bed. That wall appeared
to be about 15 feet from the sofa, providing further evidence
that the accountant was in an ideal position to see who was
winning and losing the football match.
A spokesman for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, when questioned
by this reporter about the outcome of the Super Bowl, clung
desperately to the notion that his team really did win.