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Judith Miller Is Still Reporting And I’m Not Happy

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There have been lots of news media personalities in the news lately and I plan to address some of those over the next few days in a series I’m calling…

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly … of the Media World

I’ll work backward, starting today with the ugly – those writers who should not even be published because of their journalistic sins.

Tomorrow I will write about bad media personalities who should do us all a favor and get out of the business.

On Sunday or Monday I’ll write about some good members of the news industry. Yes, Virginia, there really are such creatures.

To: the Mainstream News Media
From: A Former Journalist
Regarding: Judith Miller

I sent Judith Miller a memo back in November when she and the New York Times parted company.

She never wrote back. I’d say I was hurt but that would be lying, and I leave dishonesty to people like her.

At that time I wrote:

So you have retired?

I’m hoping this means truly retired, as in leaving the profession with no plans to do this type of work for any other new organizations.

In other words, I’m hoping this is a Tonya Harding, post-Nancy Kerrigan attack-retired, where you’re shamed into working outside your profession. As opposed to most news personalities who “retire” from one news organization only to then join another.

Perhaps you can go do now what you do best – help Republicans with public-relations campaigns. You retired a few days late for what would have been the perfect job in my eyes – you could have taken the place of I. Libby Lewis Jr, your source and the former chief of staff for Vice-President Dick Cheney. Wouldn’t that have been true poetic justice? But while that job has been filled I’m sure there are other administration jobs that Cheney or Rove would give you in a heartbeat.

Sadly, she did the type of retiring I was afraid of, leaving one journalistic institution with whatever credibility was left after your actions cast a shadow over it, only to now be working for another.

The New York Observer has reported - following a tip from Gawker - that Miller is writing a news profile of Libya’s Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi for the Atlantic Monthly. Have people not learned?

Miller long disgraced the New York Times with her faulty reporting about Iraq.

Her behavior regarding Lewis was also disgraceful. Her attempts then and, more recently in Vanity Fair, to portray herself as a martyr of the First Amendment just don’t add up, as Slate’s media critic, Jack Shafer, explained in a recent column.

She should never be allowed to work for any respectable news organization again.

And yet, the Atlantic Monthly – a magazine I like and respect — apparently has her under contract.

I want to ask the magazine’s editor one question, in all seriousness: What are you thinking!?

She has shown she has trouble with accuracy and being truthful.

It’s not just me who thinks that. Respectable bloggers such as Jay Rosen have made similar comments.

If news organizations refuse to give her jobs, maybe she’ll take the hint and leave the profession.

Until the Judith Millers, Jayson Blairs, and others of their ilk are forced out of the media profession, the media institution will have nobody to blame but itself for the credibility problem it has with the public.

Do the right thing: Just say no to hiring Miller for any future journalism work.

Sincerely,
Your Constant Reader

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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.
  • Scott Butki

    No thoughts on Miller?