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Miller Can’t Remember?

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Man, I didn’t think my opinion of Judith Miller, especially after my blistering attack of her earlier, could get lower.

But all I can say is “Wow!” after reading the much-anticipated article in The New York Tiimes, published today, looking at her role in the mess. A link to that story is here.

She says she received some information from a source other than Karl Rove and Libby Lewis, but cant recall who that source was.

I hear the phrase “I don’t remember” in regards to testimony and I think back to Reagan using that to justify his lack of recall regarding Iran Contra.
Now we know maybe that was Alzheimer’s.

Did Miller have an explanation for how she can conveniently forget such information?

Let’s try for a second to take her story at face value:
– It’s coincidence that the name of Valerie Flame (she even got that wrong!) is on the notepad.
– She has another source but she can’t recall who it is.

So what if she had a follow-up question she wanted to write or – call me crazy – she wanted to actually write an article? How would she go about that if she didn’t even know the source?

Either she knew the source and forgot the name – pretty hard to imagine in a profession whose currency is knowledge, memory and connections – or she’s lying, which is perjury.

I’m starting to wonder what she did with her time in jail in between entertaining visting sources (another major no no in my book).

If I was in jail over a story I’d be stewing over what I did right, what I did wrong, what could have gone differently, etc.

What I don’t think I would do is avoid determining or “remembering” the identity of such an important source.

Earlier I compared Miller to Jayson Blair in terms of the magnitude of her errors, the Times handling of this and how both need to re-learn their profession.

Reading over this article and the PressThink comments on it I have to wonder two questions:
1) How do we – or even her editors – know that another source exists and that she’s not pulling a Jayson Blair and making it up?

2) Didn’t The Times put into place safeguards post-Blair to try to avoid reporters playing fast and loose with the truth?

So where were these safeguards in stopping someone like Miller? If her editors and colleagues had concerns about how she was operating, why did it take all of this to bring matters to a head?

3) If she goes ahead with a rumored book deal will she give some of the proceeds to the people dying in the war that she helped promote?

There is, I think, one positive note: At least one of the main editors is unhappy with how this has all progressed, a nice contrast to the main editor who seems clueless and tone deaf to what Miller and the newspaper has done wrong.

Asked what specifically she regretted about how the matter was handled Managing Editor said: ‘The entire thing.'”

Exactly.

And that is a marked contrast to the tune of Miller who, while refusing to comment – even to her own newspaper – about her notes and her relationshp with the editors, still acts as if nothing improper has happened.

In the article Miller is quoted as saying: “We have everything to be proud of and nothing to apologize for.”

That suggests she either has no idea why others – including some at her own paper – can’t believe how much she was coddled and tolerated despite doing a terrible job as a reporter.

Or .. she knows and is just spinning to try to put a happy face on matters.

In either caes I’ve reached the same conclusion as
Greg Mitchell of Editor and Publisher: It is time for Miller to be fired.
ed/Pub:NB

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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.
  • http://www.scoopstories.typepad.com Scott Butki

    Have others read the Times story yet?

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Makes perfect sense to me if Miller IS the source. Her testimony fits pretty well with the theory that she picked the name up from general Washington rumor and then basically used Libby and Rove to indirectly confirm what she knew.

    >>3) If she goes ahead with a rumored book deal will she give some of the proceeds to the people dying in the war that she helped promote?<<

    Now Miller started the war? The Niger yellowcake business didn’t become a major issue until after the war was already over, plus there was already 500,000kg of yellowcake in Iraq. Let’s try to keep things in perspective here. There were 17 counts in the bill authorizing the war and none of them said anything about yellowcake from Niger.

    Dave.

  • http://www.scoopstories.typepad.com Scott Butki

    Dave: There are two separate issues and if conflating them confused things them my apoglies.
    One issue is Wilson-Plame- Niger, etc. She didn’t even write an article so that isn’t a factor in going to war although it means she was talking to sources who were dissing a critic of the war.

    2) No, what I’m talking about here – and why so many have a weak opinion on her – is she wrote many of the pre-war stories about the fabled weapons of mass destruction and her sources turned out to be cheerleaders for the war. Much of what she wrote turned out to be false. That’s why I call her a stooge.
    Do all journalists get used? Yes.
    Is there a way to avoid being used too often, like maybe checking to see if your source has a reason to lie to you? Yup.
    Did she seem to do that? Nope.

    I’ll go dig up a link to give some background on the latter point.

  • Scott Butki

    Ok, this gives an explanation of what I’m talking about

  • scott butki

    —– —– —– —–

    After thoughts: Let’s pretend she does have another source whose name gave her Valerie Flame and that source is not Libby or Rove.
    Where does that leave things?
    Does that mean Libby was right to think she was in jail protecting people other than him?

    Is Fitzgerald really going to accept an “I don’t know” on something this big?

  • http://www.scoopstories.typepad.com Scott Butki

    No reactions?

    Does anyone care about this story?

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    Scott, indeed, no one cares. As for Miller’s cheerleading for the war, everyone had the same bad information to work for and most in the media and in congress and in the public supported the war at first, all based on that same bad info. Why fault Miller for doing what everyone else did?

    Dave

  • http://www.scoopstories.typepad.com Scott Butki

    Because her newspaper did such a crappy job on the story that her own editors had to run a column essentially apologizing or their mistakes in their coverage.

    When they reach that point you know something bad has really happened.

    But she still acts like she did nothing wrong.

    She doesn’t seem to understand there is a difference between being a stenographer for Iraqi defectors and pro-war advocates and a reporter who tries harder to get balanced accurate news out.

    Again, see the Slate link above for attribution for some of what I’m noting.

    I’m off to get ready to student teach Have a good
    day.

  • Nancy

    Far from being a heroine for press standards, Miller is proving she’s just another hired BushCo flack. As for the garbage about “I don’t remember,” – bullshit. For that she should be charged w/perjury & obstruction.

  • http://www.scoopstories.typepad.com Scott Butki

    Amen.

  • http://carlosdelfuego.blogspot.com Carlos

    Nancy actually made me laugh. Off with her head! Off with her head! And a NYT reporter being a hired hack? Hahahahahaha, oh thats rich. I have tears….

  • http://www.scoopstories.typepad.com Scott Butki

    Here are 13 good questions Miller should
    answer to put some issues to rest.

  • Nancy

    What puzzles me is why the Times is still handling her with kid gloves. They should have been kicking her so hard she would have had to have their shoes surgically removed. Inept or is there more?

  • http://www.scoopstories.typepad.com Scott Butki

    I wrote a reply to NYT Editor Bill Keller, telling him it’s a nice start but listing where his memo falls short and what else he needs to do

  • http://www.fotolog.com/butki13 Scott Butki

    Update: Novak’s left CNN and Miller is gone daddy gone

    Details here.