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Miller Can’t Remember?

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

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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