Wednesday, July 06, 2005
Why Judy Miller Should Sing
It was Miller, more than any other reporter, who helped the White House sell its WMD-in-Iraq hokum to the American public. Relying on the repeatedly discredited Ahmad Chalabi and her carefully cultivated administration contacts, Miller wrote story after story on the supposedly imminent threat posed by Saddam Hussein. Only problem: Her scoops relied on information provided by the very folks who were also cooking the books. But because Miller hid behind confidential sources most of the time, there was little her readers could use to evaluate their credibility. You know: "a high-level official with access to classified data." Ultimately, even the Times' "public editor" conceded the paper's coverage of Iraq had often consisted of "breathless stories built on unsubstantiated 'revelations' that, in many instances, were the anonymity-cloaked assertions of people with vested interests." That's what makes the Judy Miller Media Hug-Fest so astonishing. Miller's refusal to testify to the grand jury investigating the leak of CIA agent Valerie Plame's name has catapulted her back into favor. Ironically, as it becomes ever more likely that she'll be jailed for contempt of court, the very affection for anonymous sources that landed Miller in hot water last year has become her route to journalistic rehabilitation.And from Editor and Publisher's Bill Israel:
The problem, as always, in dealing with Rove, is establishing a clear chain of culpability. Rove once described himself as a die-hard Nixonite; he is, like the former president, both student and master of plausible deniability. (This past weekend, in confirming that Rove was indeed a source for Matthew Cooper, Rove's lawyer said his client "never knowingly disclosed classified information.") That is precisely why prosecutor Fitzgerald in this case must document the pattern of Rove's behavior, whether journalists published, or not. For in this case, Rove, improving on Macchiavelli, has bet that reporters won't rat their relationship with the administration's most important political source. How better for him to operate without constraint, or to camouflage breaking the law, than under the cover of journalists and journalism, protected by the First Amendment?
More blogs about politics.