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This is merely a footnote....

In all the chit chat about Judy Miller and  - her writing of "Valerie Flame" - instead of Valerie Plame - in her notepad, what's odd is that everyone accepts it as an error.

As a former print journalist, I may well have also written Valerie Plame's name as Valerie Flame in my pad.

Plame - on the face of it - is not a certainty when pronounced - could it not easily have several variations?

Plame rhymes with Flame.

I'm just saying this is an old school game (which also ryhmes with Flame) - old school journalism.  Ryhmes and other tricks make up a sort of shorthand.


This is a footnote diary - but not a completely irrelevant point.  

Just that writing "Flame" in a journalist's notebook   might not suggest  an error as much as an accepted need to pronounce the name correctly over-riding the need to spell it.  (Does the fact that she wrote Flame possibly suggest that Judy knew that SAYING her name to others was more important then typing it into a NYT story?  As a  former NUJ member I know how easily the lines between news gathering and SHARING gossip overlap.

I also know that on more than a few occassions I have written the names of key (KEY) names in a phonetic way (or a jokey - pun-like way in my notebook.)  

I would therefore, further, suggest that Judy's use of "Valerie Flame" - be weighted - not as evidence that she didn't pay enough attention to spell the name right - but as evidence that she paid enough attention to spell it wrong.

That the presence of it - in a phoentic rhyming way - shows that she knew it was IMPORTANT.  

As a career journalist for nearly 25 years of my life (and not the best 25, BTW) I can tell you that this error may not be as simple as it seems.

Originally posted to padraig pearse on Mon Oct 24, 2005 at 04:55 PM PDT.


Judy Wrote Flame because

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Comment Preferences

  •  More importantly... (none)
    ...if she's cleaiming she haerd it somewhere else FIRST... meaning that Libby was not the one who exposed her to the concept... why would she have written it as Flame? Cause id she already new the name from elsewhere, she'd know it was PLAME and she'd know how to pronounce it.

    Doesn't hold even a drop of water.

    •  I disagree (none)
      I know that sometimes a code which tells you how to pronounce and/or spell a name is just old school journalism.

      From that, all I deduce is that the apparantly disembodied appearance of the name Valerie Flame in Miller's note book is not so much evidence of it being trivial - but, on the contrary, of its importance.

      She made enough of it, to ryhme it.  

      She knew it was the story.

      Have you ever been a journalist?  It's a dirty business but...

      Anyway, I think its telling in an important way.....

      "the fools, the fools, they've left us our Fenian Dead" (Padraig Pearse - Gay Revolutionary)

      by padraig pearse on Mon Oct 24, 2005 at 05:30:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm agreeing with you... (none)
        ...her claim is hat she already KNEW about Plame when she was talking to Libby, which doesn't scrub because she either...

        1. As you claim was giving herself a reminder about pronounciation, which she wouldn't have to do if this was her SECOND exposure to the name or...

        2. She wouldn't have misspelled it as SHE claims, because she'd already know it.

        FLAME, in either circumstance, means she was new to the name.
  •  I agree, it could be a pronunciation tip (none)
    for a name Judy Miller already knew. I've done the same thing. Great catch!

    "[I]n all due respect to your profession [journalism], you do a very good job of protecting the leakers." -- Bush on Oct 7, 2003

    by QuickSilver on Mon Oct 24, 2005 at 04:58:11 PM PDT

  •  I've always thought that was fishy--I (none)
    think it would just allow Miller to say later,"well, I didn't/they didn't leak the real name..."--it fits with her queasy sense of morality (the letter, vs. the spirit, of the law).

    ...the White House will be adorned by a downright moron...H.L. Mencken

    by bibble on Mon Oct 24, 2005 at 05:04:47 PM PDT

  •  Gasp! When I read this, I knew that you (none)
    are right.  Judy knew she was going to be needing to say that name and to say it correctly so she wrote it in a way to pronounce it correctly.  So she really is part of the cabal.  Great catch.


  •  I read it a different way (none)
    but again - not an accident.  I read as her note to herself regarding what Libby had in mind doing to Valerie Plame. I don't believe for a minute she was out of the loop on that.
  •  I believe (none)
    she wrote it because the mission was turn the "flame" up under Joe Wilson, it's like a lame little inside cutesy Scooter joke.

    i.e it was deliberate.

    "Conservatism makes no poetry, breathes no prayer, has no invention; it is all memory." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

    by reef the dog on Mon Oct 24, 2005 at 05:12:30 PM PDT

  •  Judy Tells All (none)
    except for the parts that relate to the actual truth of her actions.

    Check out her response to the Times ombudsman here

    My favorite part is this little incongruity:

    I don't recall naming the source of the tip. But I specifically remember saying that because Joe Wilson's op-ed column had appeared in our paper, we had a particular obligation to pursue this. I never identified the editor to the grand jury or publicly, since it involved internal New York Times decision-making. But since you did, yes, the editor was Jill Abramson.

    Obviously, Jill and I have different memories of what happened during that turbulent period at the paper. I did not take that personally, though she never chose to discuss with me our different recollections about my urging her to pursue the story. Without explanation, however, you said you believed her and raised questions about my "trust and credibility." That is your right. But I gave my recollection to the grand jury under oath.

    Bravo! A great facsimile of actual indignation! Hey Judy how can you have it both ways? "I didn't tell the GJ who the editor was, and Abramson says it wasn't her, yet you believe her, when I testified UNDER OATH, even though I never mentioned Abramson in my testimony..."

    Oh yes, absolutely unassailable.  Sounds like she's still planning to go to bat for Scooter. Notice the acerbic way she bridles at Keller's description of their "entanglement." Methinks the lady doth protest too much.

  •  I kind of chuckled on this... (none)
    back in February, I dubbed it "operation flame Plame" in a parody piece.

    I used that construction, obviously, to suggest that this was a hit, about settling a score.

    That's the place my mind raced when I read about Miller's note.

    Who knows, I'm probably reading too much into it, but perhaps Miller was seeking to capture several notions in a simple phrase--kind of like a pneumonic device.

    New on EWM: The Twelve Days of Miers: An inappropriately early holiday motif song parody/commentary.

  •  See how like Fs those Ps are? (none)
    "Does the curiously faded label on the bottle say 'FOR FEELING FAINT' or 'FOR PEELING PAINT'? One had better seek further elucidation before taking a swig." -- Daniel C. Dennett, "The Interpretation of Texts"
    •  No.... (none)
      I just spent the first few months of this case assuming that Plame was a two syllable name.

      Pronunciation is rarely as evident as you would think.  One should always ask the family.

      "the fools, the fools, they've left us our Fenian Dead" (Padraig Pearse - Gay Revolutionary)

      by padraig pearse on Mon Oct 24, 2005 at 05:46:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Of course (none)
        I'm not really disagreeing with you.  I just found it interesting that the letters are so similar, as well as whatever else might have been the case.  

        It would be interesting if we could actually get a photoscan of her notes.  Do we know if they are handwritten?

  •  I think she heard it ... (none)
    ... from a person who slurs his words (e.g., like Robert Novak slurs), and thus she heard "Valerie Flame."
  •  asdf (none)
    I think the undertones of Plausible Deniability can also be recognized here.

    "War is the greatest of all crimes; and yet there is no aggressor who does not color his crime with the pretext of justice." Voltaire

    by lostian1 on Mon Oct 24, 2005 at 06:15:47 PM PDT

  •  Another theory via billmon (none)

    Occasionally, my friend writes a story that gets picked up by the Israeli press, which translates it into Hebrew. And occasionally, these same stories get translated back into English so they can be run on an Israeli paper's English-language web site. As it happens, the same character in the Hebrew alphabet that is used for the western letter "P" is also used for the western letter "F." So when his stories appear on the Israeli paper's web site, the original "p"s are sometimes end up transformed into "f"s and visa versa. This most frequently happens in people's names, since it's sometimes hard for the translator (or the translation software, I'm not sure which is used) to figure out which is right...(snip)

    An interesting theory (IMO), but your theory makes sense too, so who knows....

  •  Clunk (none)
    I'm sorry, I just fainted. A real diary, with well-thought opinions by someone who (gasp) knows what they're talking about. Not just simple re-hashing of an article written by someone else.

    Thanks PP -- and, works for me, BTW. I'd wondered about it, and you confirm my thoughts.

    In troubling times, it's good to read true stories about real people doing good things. HeroicStories, free

    by AllisonInSeattle on Mon Oct 24, 2005 at 07:02:42 PM PDT

  •  Flame as a Significant Name (none)
    I've written a good deal about this and made the case I think here.

    ...the New York Times...All the Lies We've Decided to Tell You

    by aspTrader on Mon Oct 24, 2005 at 08:19:04 PM PDT

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