Sunday, July 10, 2005


judy 2

Two more things about Judith Miller:

1) In an otherwise strong article about Miller's reputation and history, Rosa Brooks speculates on another motivation for JM's martyrdom:
It's possible (though not likely) that Miller is covering for a genuine whistle-blower who fears retaliation for fingering, gee, Karl Rove, for instance, as the real source of the leak.

I've seen this speculated elsewhere, and it seems to neglect the obvious point that there would be nothing preventing Miller from writing an article saying ""an anonymous White House source has pointed to (insert high administration figure) as the source of the leak." Think about it. She'd be serving the public good, helping to reveal a crime, and anyway if Rove (or whomever) is not her source he or she already knows that thereis a whistleblower already. So Miller & her whistleblower would jeopardize nothing by telling the world that a source fingered somebody else (even without mentioning Rove-or-whoever's name).

And then she could still go to jail, knowing that it was clear that she actually was performing a service for her country and the free press. The notion that she'd go to jail to protect an anonymous source without ever letting anyone (including a grand jury) know what the source said is frankly bizarre.

2) Far more important, Miller's entire justification for going to jail is that if a reporter ever reveals a source, then no future source would ever be able to trust her again. It's the one strike & you're out rule. Which makes the following tale so incredibly damning:
But when there is trouble, it appears she’s more than happy to pass around the responsibility. One incident that still rankles happened last April, when Miller co-bylined a story with Douglas Jehl on the WMD search that included a quote from Amy Smithson, an analyst formerly at the Henry L. Stimson Center. A day after it appeared, the Times learned that the quote was deeply problematic. To begin with, it had been supplied to Miller in an e-mail that began, “Briefly and on background”—a condition that Miller had flatly broken by naming her source. Miller committed a further offense by paraphrasing the quote and distorting Smithson’s analysis. One person who viewed the e-mail says that it attributed views to Smithson that she clearly didn’t hold. An embarrassing correction ensued. And while the offense had been entirely Miller’s, there was nothing in the correction indicating Jehl’s innocence.

The story is also mentioned in this 2003 article.

If there's a distinction here--is compelled revelation considered somehow worse than voluntary revelation? was Smithson explicitly promised anonymity or did she just assume it? can you be come a "born-again trusted reporter"?--then we need to know it. Otherwise, there's no reason why this incident shouldn't have been in paragraph one of every single story & editorial that covered Miller's heroism. Because it seems to me she already blew her wad a couple of years ago, and any source who expected protection by her was playing a fool's game.

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