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It’s Miller Time…For Explanations

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To: The Mainstream News Media
From: A Former Reporter/Current News Junkie
Re: Questions Answered With Questions

You might think that now that Judith Miller is out of jail and held a press conference that questions would be answered, mysteries solved and The New York Times would be the first with the story on what happened and what it all means.

And if you thought that you would be wrong on all counts.

Why was she released from jail now?

In a statement Friday she says she wanted to wait until she got a clear voluntary waiver from her source. But she got a specific voluntary waiver a month ago so that still raises the question of what she was waiting for.

It was the Philadelphia Inquirer, not the Times, that was first to report both that Miller was leaving jail and that her source was the vice president’s chief of staff. You’d think she’d give her own newspaper a heads up. Ironically it was an anonymous source that tipped the Inquirer to the news, according to this report.

Meanwhile new questions have emerged:

  • The New York Times’ lawyer is now saying that Miller turned over some of her notes – after some editing – to prosecutors. Oddly this was not revealed before.

So the prosecutor had her notes and her source had said she could testify? This sure muddies up the ethical waters.

  • If her source, as some newspapers are reporting, was “Scooter” Libby why is he acting surprised and saying he thought she had other sources?
  • Was she Libby’s source or was he her source? That question may sound confusing and out of left field but it was one of the questions Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Commitee for Freedom of the Press, has said she would like to ask Miller. Me too.

I’d also love answers to her other two questions: Do you feel used by the White House and do you think any crimes have taken place?

I’d like to think we will get answers to these questions eventually, but the way things are going I’m not expecting to read the responses in The New York Times.

Until next time, I remain your careful, curious, reader,

Scott Butki

P.S. The Washington Post is reporting tonight that the account Miller gave the grand jury matched what Libby reportedly says happened. The newspaper says Libby’s lawyer thought he had worked out with Miller’s lawyers a year ago that she has a specific voluntary waiver. That lawyer is quoted in the Washington Post as saying this: “We are surprised to learn we had anything to do with her incarceration.”

In my memo yesterday, I made references to Robert Novak and Valerie Plame and in comments some questioned how they are all connected.

I’d spell it out but Editor and Publisher has helpfully put together an even better timeline.
Edited: PCEd:LisaM

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About Scott Butki

Scott Butki was a newspaper reporter for more than 10 years before making a career change into education... then into special education. He has been doing special education work for about five years He lives in Austin. He reads at least 50 books a year and has about 15 author interviews each year and, yes, unlike tv hosts he actually reads each one. He is an in-house media critic, a recovering Tetris addict and a proud uncle. He has written articles on practically all topics from zoos to apples and almost everything in between.
  • Since writing that I read a Washington Post piece that piqued my interest because it sounds like Libby’s lawyers thought they gave Miller permission a year ago.

  • Perhaps Miller is trying to build up some ‘time served’ to apply to her eventual sentence for her role as the prime instigator in the ‘outing’ of Plame?

    It sounds to me like the NYT is desperately trying to distance themselves from Miller and any liability for her actions.


  • Scott Butki

    Probably a wise thing for them to do.


    Hmm, this was supposed to be listed as the next Media Reality Check.

  • Thanks for moving this.

    Very interesting posts today at
    PressThink basically suggesting the NYT is failing its readers which is helping erode already low morale at the newspaper.

  • Very interesting development today:
    Cheney is said to be testifying shortly.

  • Just wrote up and submitted a new piece which should be published soon.

  • Interesting new development reported today in the Rove-Miller-Libby controversy:

    The prosecutor now not only wants Rove to testify again but wants to talk some more

    to Miller too.

    I’m going to try to write up a new media reality check piece this weekend looking at this as well as some rare good news about the news media.

  • The good news for the Times today:
    Looks like maybe Miller had a good reason to be concerned Libby’s waiver really
    was coerced.

    The bad news is the Times got scooped again (!) on its own reporter, this time about her suddenly finding new notes, as explained here.

    I’ll write up a new media column piece on this tomororw.