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Joe Conason must read: "The Miller Crusade Diminishes the Press"

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flpoljunkie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 09:07 AM
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Joe Conason must read: "The Miller Crusade Diminishes the Press"

By Joe Conason

Very few of the journalists rallying behind New York Times reporter Judith Miller seem thrilled about defending her, no matter how strongly they believe in shielding sources. While they may admire her guts in going to jail, their lack of enthusiasm for her case is understandable.

She leaves much to be desired as a martyr for the First Amendment. Based on both past performance and present circumstance, she actually symbolizes a terrible betrayal of the public trust by the national media. And whatever she and her employers think theyre achieving in defiance of the special counsel investigating the Valerie Wilson case, her conduct will inevitably diminish the reputation and power of the press.

Her coverage of Iraq and those still-missing weapons of mass destruction was marked by arrogance, incompetence and eagerness to advance the agenda of the Bush White House. Those seem to be the hallmarks of her current misadventure as well. Having written very bad stories that helped drive the country into war against a nonexistent threat, she is now creating very bad law for press freedom.

Curiously, the sources she is protecting today are the same people who staged the war propaganda, in which she played her notorious starring role.


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BlueWolff Donating Member (337 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 09:22 AM
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1. GREAT article by Joe AGAIN
Thanks Joe!
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Cha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 09:29 AM
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2. That's very good. Joe Conason
has a way of writing that makes it clear for me to understand what's going down.

judith miller is a scourge on society..and there seem to be no let up in sight. Where's it all going to end, judy?
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kentuck Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 09:38 AM
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3. Joe says what few other reporters have the courage to say...
They know Judith Miller was a muthpiece for this Administration and its propaganda. She deserves to keep her ass in jail, as far as I'm concerned. She betrayed the credo of a free press.
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Dhalgren Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 09:40 AM
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4. This is the point that everyone should grasp when discussing
journalist-source protection:

"But source privilege was never intended to protect powerful officials using the media to abuse their power and commit crimes."

This is why she, in my opinion, has no standing on this issue. She is not protecting a whistle-blower from government or corporate retaliation; she is protecting high government officials from being held responsible for their crimes. Big, over-riding difference...
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gratuitous Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 09:56 AM
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5. Spells it out quite well for the absolutists
I agree that source confidentiality is an important issue for the press. But "sources" that are to be protected don't include high-ranking public officials who lie to reporters so that their lies can get elevated to fact in the public discourse. The sources who are to be protected are the ones who point a reporter toward the larger story, not the story themselves. Deep Throat (Mark Felt) wasn't the story in the ongoing Watergate narrative; he was a source who pointed Woodward and Bernstein toward where the story was to be found.

Judith Miller is a particularly bad martyr for journalistic principles for exactly the reasons that Conason enumerates, and chiefly because Miller has not been a journalist over the last few years, but a reliable stenographer for high government officials, dependably putting their stories and their spin on issues and events while obscuring just who was saying what.

It's a confusing story for a lot of journalists and reporters, who are more accustomed to sucking up and angling for their next big gig than they are in doing their job, which is reporting the facts. Miller has a byline in the New York Times, which makes her look like a real reporter. But her work is clearly not that of a reporter, yet when she runs afoul of the legal system, she uses the legal paraphenalia available to a reporter which again makes her look like a real reporter.

It's the disconnect between what Miller looks like and what she actually does that has confounded any number of commentators and First Amendment absolutists. They want to defend actual journalism, and Miller at first glance looks very much like a journalist, so they feel they have to speak up on her behalf. But the truth is that Judith Miller is in position to masquerade as a journalist, and is standing on a very old principle that is a little less lofty than that of the free press: Me first.
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progressoid Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 10:16 AM
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6. Joe wins another cigar!
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senseandsensibility Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 10:24 AM
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7. He just said what needed to be said
in plain words. He is a great writer, but in this case he simply stated the truth. It's all that is necessary, but most journalists don't have the balls. Thanks for putting it in perspective, Joe.
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ooglymoogly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 11:07 AM
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8. as always joe perfectly and concisely said
keep up the good work
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0007 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 11:07 AM
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9. Shame shame shame on Judith Miller. She deserves everything
she gets for bedding with junior & his crime cabal.

Speculation is mounting that Miller is protecting herself-that Miller was herself a source of information about Plame that made it to several Bush administration officials and was then recycled to columnist Robert Novak. - (Tom Betz)
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Al-CIAda Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 11:30 AM
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10. Rec'd.
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kenny blankenship Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 12:13 PM
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11. A spy hiding behind the journalistic privilege
is a slap in the face to all real journalists trying to save the privilege and working sincerely to salvage the name of their profession, which is so vital to a functioning democracy.
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Peace Patriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 12:27 PM
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12. Jailing Judith Miller is not going to harm freedom of the press.
And it might just enhance it, because what the press needs most of all is, a) freedom from corporate control; b) freedom from government control, and c) freedom from the two colluding together to cook up "the news."

Judith Miller is a Bush Cartel agent. She is a disgrace to journalism. And the idea of protecting Karl Rove as a "source" is the stupidest, most upside down, Wonderlandish, Orwellian farce I have ever heard of.

Thank you, Joe Conason!
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Lecky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 12:53 PM
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13. Great Article!
I can't stand it when I see other journalists stick up for Judith Miller, it's people like Judith Miller that make us skeptical of the press.
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Eloriel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 01:12 PM
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14. Some other good links
Edited on Wed Jul-20-05 01:13 PM by Eloriel
Joe's one of my journalistic heroes and this is superb, but I thought I'd add a few of the other links I've collected refuting Judith Miller as some sort of hero:

E&P: Karl Rove: Using Reporters--and Abusing the First Amendment

"An attack on an administration critic, not whistle-blowing" - Fitzgerald

S. Blumberg:
In the best-case scenario for Miller, Bill Kovach believes that any pledge she may have made to a source should be invalid. Kovach is the former Washington bureau chief of the New York Times, former curator of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University and founding director of the Committee of Concerned Journalists. He describes the internal policy set within the Times on sources. "By the 1980s, we decided that we had to set some limits because reporters had been misled and the credibility of the news reports had been damaged by misleading sources. When I was chief of the bureau in Washington, we laid down a rule to the reporters that when they wanted to establish anonymity they had to lay out ground rules that if anything the source said was damaging, false or damaged the credibility of the newspaper we would identify them."

In the Plame matter, Kovach sees no obligation of the reporters to false sources. "If a man damages your credibility, why not lay the blame where it belongs? If Plame were an operative, she wouldn't have the authority to send someone. Whoever was leaking that information to Novak, Cooper or Judy Miller was doing it with malice aforethought, trying to set up a deceptive circumstance. That would invalidate any promise of confidentiality. You wouldn't protect a source for telling lies or using you to mislead your audience. That changes everything. Any reporter that puts themselves or a news organization in that position is making a big mistake."

Obviously, the Times is not imposing the rules in its present crisis that Kovach was involved in making. Are the editors unfocused on the underlying facts and falsehoods? Do the editors have a responsibility to determine who is a fair source and who is a deceiver? Has anyone fully debriefed Miller? For now, the Times is frozen in its heroic defense of the First Amendment.

Judith Miller HAS named sources in the past

Judith Miller No Hero

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Peace Patriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 01:17 PM
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15. Joe writes:
"Indeed, this entire fiasco began around the time that the original war-propaganda campaign began to disintegrate, about three months after the invasion of Iraq proved that the weapons of mass destruction advertised by the Bush administration (and certain pliable journalists) simply didnt exist. For a time, Ms. Miller pretended to be finding those weapons in Iraq as an 'embedded reporter' with a special Army unit, but that series didnt work out so well either." --Conason

Yeah, I've wondered about that. She was so disappointed when they weren't found--and became a great annoyance to the soldiers in the field, blaming them for not looking hard enough, and threatening them with her connections in the Pentagon. It's as if she KNEW they would be there.

Got me to thinking about a couple of things.

May 22,2003: David Kelly (Brit chief WMD inspector) starts whistleblowing to BBC on Blair WMD lies ("sexing up" of Iraq intel docs, espec. re nukes).
June 5-10, 2003: Kelly goes to Iraq
July 6,2003: Wilson whistleblows on Bush WMD lies in the U.S. (Iraq nukes/Niger).
July 7, 2003: After Blairites hunt him down, Kelly undergoes a "security-style interview," and Blair is informed that Kelly "could say some uncomfortable things" ("COULD say"!)
July 1-15: Blairites out Kelly's name to press, and send him home without protection
July 14, 2003: Plame outed by Novak.
July 15-16-ish, 2003: Judith Miller receives an email from David Kelly warning about "many dark actors playing games" re: the controversy about his whistleblowing
July 18, 2003: David Kelly found dead, under extremely suspicious circumstances.
July 22, 2003: Plame's entire network outed and disabled (by Novak)

Miller had used Kelly as a major source in her book "Germs." In the news article she wrote about Kelly's death (NYT, 7/2103), she does not disclose this connection, nor the "dark actors" email. (I also suspect she put words in a dead man's mouth, but that's a side issue, except as to her duplicity.)

What am I getting at? I keep feeling that there is a connection between the two things--Plame getting outed, and Kelly turning up dead, three days later. Too much of a coincidence--and too much oddity in Miller's behavior. My guess: There was a Cheney plot to plant WMDs in Iraq. It got foiled, maybe by Kelly. Plame outing--long planned--was triggered not by Wilson's article, but by fears of what Kelly knew and might say (and what Plame might then find out, or be able to verify). (--the phrase spoken to Blair--in the time-line, above--about what Kelly "COULD say"--their problem with him was not so much what he HAD said). Rove revenge on Wilson was a cover story (mostly).

Kelly seems to have had a change of heart about the war, sometime in April-May. He had supported the invasion. He wanted Saddam toppled. Then, AFTER the invasion, he started whistleblowing to the BBC on the WMD exaggerations--an act that would undermine the WMD justifications for the war (in which he had played an insider role; tried to make it more honest, but didn't whistleblow). It feels like something happened; like he found something out (and maybe went to Iraq, in mid-June, to confirm it).

It's just a hunch. And I am intrigued by Miller's failure to disclose her connections to Kelly in that news article.
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