Too Little, Too Late
She says all the right things, and she says them well, but only when it's completely safe to do so. That's MoDo on Judith Fucking-Miller.Select
ed excerpts follow.
I have often wondered what Waugh or Thackeray would have made of the Fourth Estate's Becky Sharp.
But enough about me.
This column's about Judy Miller.
The traits she has that drive many reporters at The Times crazy -- her tropism toward powerful men, her frantic intensity and her peculiar mixture of hard work and hauteur -- have never bothered me.
Lord, what fools these mortals be. Have I mentioned my appreciation of Shakespeare in this column?
My shallow colleagues focused on personality; I'm all about substance.
And that substance is Bill Clinton's semen.
But back to Judy.
Fifteen years ago, I wimped out and let her take my seat at an NSC briefing. (Sorry, you'll have to buy the paper for that bit.
Today, I exact my dull revenge.
She never knew when to quit. That was her talent and her flaw. Sorely in need of a tight editorial leash, she was kept on no leash at all, and that has hurt this paper and its trust with readers.
Did I mention she's a bitch?
Judy's stories about W.M.D. fit too perfectly with the White House's case for war. She was close to Ahmad Chalabi, the con man who was conning the neocons to knock out Saddam so he could get his hands on Iraq, and I worried that she was playing a leading role in the dangerous echo chamber that Senator Bob Graham, now retired, dubbed "incestuous amplification." Using Iraqi defectors and exiles, Mr. Chalabi planted bogus stories with Judy and other credulous journalists.
Hey, I worried about it. What more do you expect me to do? Report it?
When Bill Keller became executive editor in the summer of 2003, he barred Judy from covering Iraq and W.M.D. issues. But he acknowledged in The Times's Sunday story about Judy's role in the Plame leak case that she had kept "drifting" back. Why did nobody stop this drift?
I'd love to answer that question, given my inside knowledge, but I've already spent three paragraphs on the seat-stealing anecdote and another on Judy's penchant for the big dicks.
As Bill said yesterday in an e-mail note to the staff, Judy seemed to have "misled" the Washington bureau chief, Phil Taubman, about the extent of her involvement in the Valerie Plame leak case.
You know Bill. Many call him "nobody," but I couldn't do that.
It also doesn't seem credible that Judy wouldn't remember a Marvel comics name like "Valerie Flame." Nor does it seem credible that she doesn't know how the name got into her notebook and that, as she wrote, she "did not believe the name came from Mr. Libby."
I don't care if thousands of people have already written that; I'll make my stand.
An Associated Press story yesterday reported that Judy had coughed up the details of an earlier meeting with Mr. Libby only after prosecutors confronted her with a visitor log showing that she had met with him on June 23, 2003. This cagey confusion is what makes people wonder whether her stint in the Alexandria jail was in part a career rehabilitation project.
Yes, I've confirmed Miller is toast at the Times.
I admire Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and Bill Keller for aggressively backing reporters in the cross hairs of a prosecutor.
Among other things.
But before turning Judy's case into a First Amendment battle, they should have nailed her to a chair and extracted the entire story of her escapade.
And the editorial side of the paper should have ... Oops, I've almost run out of space.
Judy told The Times that she plans to write a book and intends to return to the newsroom, hoping to cover "the same thing I've always covered -- threats to our country." If that were to happen, the institution most in danger would be the newspaper in your hands.
And then who would hire me?
(Sorry, link not available)
Update (10/22/05): (Link not available unless you go here. It's up to you.)