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Can we possibly have a less likable journalist to play the role of martyr than Judith Miller of The New York Times?

Media Reality Check: Judith Miller Goes Free

To: The Mainstream News Media
From: A former reporter/ current news junkie
Re: What a week!

Don’t you just hate it when facts get in the way of good stories?

First came the bad news that journalists had done a sloppier job than originally realized covering Katrina. This just increases my call to them to put away the champagne and do some real work. And if that means reviewing how to deal with rumors during disasters, so be it. Better that than falsely reporting incidents of rapes.

Then in recent days I posted at Blogcritics my pieces about Karl Rove, Robert Novak and related satire pieces about Judith Miller and Tom Cruise.

Predictably, conservatives called my pieces stale and wrong while liberals praised me for keeping up the good fight. My motives were less partisan than just interest in a good story and a fascinating ethics situation. I mean can we possibly have a less likable journalist to play the role of martyr than Miller?

As I wrote in the comments section of this thread:

While she is not a poster child for good journalism (she got used by the Bush administration to justify the war) she is still in jail for not revealing her sources and that is indeed a first amendment issue.

It’s true she is not protecting a whistleblower – more like she is protecting a source from the administration such as Rove. But that doesn’t stop making it a first amendment issue.

I’ve been as critical of her – heck, I’ve satirized her – as I have of Robert Novak.

Well, now comes the news that Miller has been released. Expect much speculation and hand-wringing to commence. Does this mean she caved?

Editor and publisher is reporting that her source gave her a waiver and that she is going to testify today. Hopefully in the days to come her actions will become clear and maybe even
Novak will shed light on his role for as Jay Rosen points out, Novak has some explaining to do.

Speaking of unlikeable jerks, Geraldo Rivera got a correction but not an apology from The New York Times. Rivera complained that an article in the newspaper suggested he “nudged” a emergency worker trying to help a Katrina victim. It looks like the newspaper was wrong and he was right because a correction ran this week. It ran after an interesting piece by Public Editor Bryan Calame which argued for the correction. Thanks to Slate’s Today’s Papers – one of the best guides to daily journalism around – for bringing this to my attention.

Calame wrote the best sentence I’ve read in recent months to describe journalism integrity, whether we’re talking about Novak, Rivera or whoever. He wrote, “One of the real tests of journalistic integrity is being fair to someone who might be best described by a four-letter word.”

And with that thought I leave you for now.

Your faithful reader,
Scott Butki

Ed:LisaM

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.

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