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View Diary: Disgrace to Journalism (250 comments)

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  •  Bill Keller should resign (4.00)
    Who at the NY Times allowed Judy Miller to run this show? What was Bill Keller doing? He started off well enough:
    Within a few weeks, in one of his first personnel moves, Mr. Keller told Ms. Miller that she could no longer cover Iraq and weapons issues.
    This is an astonishing step. To tell a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter that she had lost credibility. Why did Keller do it?
    The note said the paper's articles on unconventional weapons were credulous. It did not name any reporters and said the failures were institutional. Five of the six articles called into question were written or co-written by Ms. Miller.
    So there you have it...Miller was taken in by her WH sources, which obviously included Libby.

    Nonetheless, Miller was unrepentent, at least as far as Libby:

    He was "a good-faith source who was usually straight with me," Ms. Miller said in an interview.
    So when push comes to shove, and the Times knows that the source is Libby, and that Miller could not distinguish Libby's truth from lies, here is what they do, they ask Miller, and (surprise) she still can't recognize Libby's smear effort:

    Ms. Miller said the subject of Mr. Wilson and his wife had come up in casual conversation with government officials, Mr. Taubman said, but Ms. Miller said "she had not been at the receiving end of a concerted effort, a deliberate organized effort to put out information."
    in spite of the fact that
    she said Mr. Libby wanted to talk about a diplomat....
    So the Times is just letting this "run amok" person, that they KNOW has been (charitably) "fooled" by Libby and the WH in the past, who wouldn't recognize a criminal conspiracy if it bit her in the ass, decide what the obligations of the NY Times are in this situation.
    "The default position in a case like that is you support the reporter," Mr. Keller said....neither [Keller nor Sulzberger] asked Ms. Miller detailed questions...Both said they viewed the case as a matter of principle, which made the particulars less important....I didn't interrogate her....I didn't ask to see her notes...
    What particulars? you mean the particulars that Miller had been previously proven to be in the pocket of this bunch of war criminals, by the NY Times itself?  What particulars? What default position? a default is what you do if there are no extraordinary circumstances...hardly the case here....Keller himself now seems to have a clue:
    "I wish it had been a clear-cut whistle-blower case. I wish it had been a reporter who came with less public baggage.."
    what does that mean? It wasn't either one of those things and that was clear to everyone right away. Is Keller trying to wish away the reality?

    This is an astonishing abrogation of the public trust, as well as the fiduciary duty of the publisher, which makes no sense to me. It didn't make any sense at the time, and it still doesn't, in light of the comments of the people at the Times, about Miller, her temperament and her work. Keller decides she is a loose cannon, then trusts her with the reputation of the paper? This decision to support Miller had to have come primarily from Sulzberger, as did several of the poorly written editorials supporting the Times' position. Besides Keller's obvious and expressed distrust of Miller, he, as editor, would not have the power to decide the position of the paper in this case. No, it was Sulzberger. The question remains "WHY".

    A Pulitzer Prize winning reporter is no small feather in the cap of a newspaper. In fact, it is huge. Sulzberger allowed Judy to be transferred off the WMD beat, but that problem was attibutable to her sources,  who turned out to be wrong, as Judy simplistically put it. But this was different. This was potentially complicity in a felony, perpetrated by the SAME SOURCES. Somehow Sulzberger took the same stonewall stance that has failed to many. Somehow he thought he could mobilize public opinion to save her testimony, which he, at some level, knew would necessitate her being fired. She was his showcase Pulitzer Prize winner. She was his Mark McGuire...she hit home runs...he didn't want to find out she was "on steroids." We joke about who Judy slept with. That wasn't necessary in this case. She was a valuable property, who was goin down, and  Sulzberger was just crossing fingers, wishing hard, hoping the whole thing would go away. By doing that, the unethical nature of Judy Miller and the loss of integrity at the Times have just been made so much more apparent.  

    Keller should resign. I hope he does. Either he was responsible (which I doubt), or he is lying to protect his boss, who is responsible for the management of the Times. Either way, he should go. I don't know, maybe he still thinks that what the Times did was somehow a good thing, a principled thing. It wasn't. It was shitty management...letting the inmates run the asylum.

    Of course, Sulzberger is the wrong man, in so many ways, to be running the NY Times. This is his personal hurricane Katrina: so much warning, so little action.  

    What is ironic about this whole thing is that it was ALWAYS much more about the NY Times than it was about Judy Miller. Keller seems still not to understand that.

    Fitz, don't fail me now...

    by seesdifferent on Sun Oct 16, 2005 at 02:49:02 PM PDT

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