The 6,000 words that the New York Times devoted yesterday to explaining (if that’s the word) Judith Miller’s involvement in the Valerie Plame affair have, predictably, provided ample fodder for hundreds of bloggers — after all, it’s not every day that one of the masters of the MSM takes a rifle to its own foot.
Most are shocked by the portrait of Miller that emerges, in her own account and the longer Times story, of a domineering loose cannon in the newsroom, and a complacent pushover when dealing with the administration. The Liquid List takes the condemnation to its natural partisan conclusion: “Judith Miller is a shill for the Bush Administration and a friend to those under closest investigation by Fitzgerald. She deserved her 85 days in jail, if for anything because of her complicity in the duping of America in regard to Iraq.” It goes on to call her a “Fox reporter embedded at the Times.”
Plenty of folks are just plain confused by the Times report, which opened up nearly as many questions as it answered. To take but one, why has Miller conveniently forgotten who gave her the name Valerie Plame (or Flame, as it turned up in her notebook)? As The Moderate Voice notes, “It is certainly QUITE unusual for a journalist to forget who gave them a KEY part of info in a major story — let alone one that has legal implications.”
Others wonder about some of the more glossed-over aspects of the stories, like Miller’s mention, in passing, that she was granted a security clearance during an assignment in Iraq. John Aravosis at Americablog speculates that “Not only does this mean the government is in essence licensing journalists, but Miller is agreeing to muzzle herself should she receive any classified information during her work. I suspect that the agreement Miller signed to get her clearance, if she really got one at all, made her promise not to divulge ANY classified info that came her way at all, even if the info came to her way via sources back in DC that she had BEFORE she got the clearance. That means prior to the clearance Miller could have reported whatever she wanted that she heard in DC, but after the clearance she would have been legally muzzled by her own signature even if the info had nothing to do with her embedding in Iraq. That’s a hell of a trade-off for a journalist.”
The question of whether or not Miller was (and perhaps still is) protecting the administration is also preoccupying bloggers. Jerry Bowles at Best of the Blogs tries to figure out Miller’s political perspective and gets himself tangled up in knots. “Yes, Judith Miller is Jewish,” he writes, “And, many of her best sources are the same Neocons (cons has now become the operative part of the word) who thought invading Iraq would create a better world and, by the way, a more Israel-friendly Middle East. On the other hand, Miller’s husband, the legendary book editor and co-founder of the New York Review of Books, Jason Epstein, was opposed to the Iraq invasion. And the NYRB, now edited by Jason’s ex-wife, Barbara Epstein, with whom he is said to be friendly, has run the most devastating critiques of Miller’s work published so far. Go figure.”