Thursday, November 10, 2005
As If We Needed Any Further Proof That Judy Miller Was GOP Zampolit And Had Been For Decades....
Adam Clymer, retired political correspondent for the Times, recalls an episode during the 1988 presidential campaign, when Miller was deputy Washington bureau chief. Then the political editor based in New York, Clymer was awakened just after midnight one morning by a call from Miller, he says. She was demanding that a story about Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis be pulled from the paper. The story was too soft, she complained -- and said Lee Atwater, the political strategist for Vice President George H.W. Bush, believed it was soft as well. Clymer said he was stunned to realize that Atwater apparently had either seen the story or been told about it before publication. He and Miller argued, he recalls, and he ultimately hung up on her, twice.Think about this for a moment. When she was the NYT's deputy Washington bureau chief, she was taking stories about the Democratic candidate and showing them to the opposition before they were published. She should have been fired for that alone. I'm beginning to think that she only slept with Les Aspin so she could get intel from him to pass along to the RNC.
[Update from Charles: The paragraph on Atwater appears in a particularly (and deservedly) nasty Washington Post story by Lynne Duke titled The Reporter's Last Take. I don't know whether this is a correction of an incorrect link or whether AP or Yahoo have scrubbed the story. The nation needs to know not just the bit on Atwater, but other aspects of Judith Miller that Duke dredges up. In fact, it needed to know these facts years ago.]
The Duke story is worth reading, partly for content, but partly as an example of the sort of malice and obsession with the salacious that characterizes newspaper reporting nowadays.
Not that salacious content is bad. And certainly Miller has earned every bit of venom that Duke dishes. But important facts get missed in the process.
Here's the gestalt of the slam:
Judy Miller's fumbling with the tape recorder. It's not even her tape recorder....She's groping...to take us behind that cozy curtain called "off the record" where you can dish, spin, vent, manipulate, and all in secret....a parade of Judys appears. Outraged Judy. Saddened Judy. Charming Judy. Wise Judy. Conspiratorial Judy. ... her Treo's vibrating on her hip. ...There's something frantic about her -- not vulnerable, mind you, for that's the last thing she is....Executive Editor Bill Keller, seemed to have called her a liar and added the innuendo of the word "entanglement" ...she's been vilified in print as a "Woman of Mass Destruction"?......being too close to her sources ...which prompted eyes to roll among some of her colleagues at the Times ... "I had no personal, social or other relationship with [Libby] except as a source," ... "She was very anxiety-ridden...
Colleagues in the region recall her as hypercompetitive, sometimes disturbingly so..."She had gotten too close to her sources," he says.
...she is, indeed, a volatile person. Volcanic might be the better word. She erupts. She is known to holler ...Her relationships took on the aspect of legend, stirring controversy and gossip because of her romantic affairs with public officials.... she lived with Wisconsin Democrat Rep. Les Aspin. ...her relationship with Richard Burt, a Times colleague ...Sulzberger and his wife shared a summer house on the Eastern Shore with Miller and a beau...Sulzberger, now the Times publisher, has been Miller's behind-the-scenes protector all these years. ...her shortcomings in basic human relations....an editor (she won't say who) told her to "run amok," ...
As much fun as this may be, Duke missed at least one very basic question. Judy Miller was, I believe, the only member of the media to be the target of a fake anthrax attack. The Bad Thought that she fabricated this is difficult to ignore. And if she fabricated it, could she have links to the people engaged in fake anthrax attacks against clinics?
A full review of Miller's writing needs to be done and any fabrications uncovered. The Times needs to hire a full-time reporter to review Judith Miller's work.
Even this blog, with all the work unpaid, does as good a job as possible in correcting the record and trying to focus journalism away from infotainment and onto reporting.
Is the profession of journalism so feeble that it can't even do that?
More blogs about politics.