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The Story Judith Miller Got Right
May 28, 2004
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 window.

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.

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