Saturday, October 22, 2005

Let's call a spade a spade

Note: If you're an ardent Bush supporter, or you think the Iraq War is a truly righteous endeavor, you may want to skip this posting.

When I got an e-mail this week from a colleague touting New York Times reporter Judith Miller's appearance at a recent journalism confab (including a photo of said colleague with Miller), my first reaction was probably not the one he expected. You see, I cringed.

That's because, from the get-go, I've had reservations about the media's adulation of Miller's decision to go to jail to protect her sources. I've had this sneaking suspicion that her decision was, at least in part, a CYA move.

Maybe that's because we now know that much of the "evidence" Miller reported about the threat posed by Iraq in the run-up to the U.S. invasion (remember those WMDs?) was misleading. Wait, let's call a spade a spade: it was a pack of lies.

To my mind, that leaves two choices: either Miller was a gullible sap (and a bad reporter) who got conned by the Bush administration into reporting those lies and exaggerations...or she was a willing participant who happily pushed propaganda. Either way, she doesn't look much like a media hero to me.

Watching all the recent hoopla about Miller, I've been waiting for the other shoe to drop. And now it has. Well, maybe not the whole shoe, maybe just the insole. But whatever it was, it's hit the floor with a thud.

In what an AP story termed a "dramatic e-mail" to NYT staff, Executive Editor Bill Keller said that Miller "appeared to have misled" the newspaper about her dealings with I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, on these issues, and on her knowledge of Libby's possible role in the "outing" of CIA operative Valerie Plame (the subject of an ongoing federal grand jury investigation, as discussed in this AP article).

However, I think Keller's missing the real point: Miller didn't just mislead the paper and her colleagues; she helped scam the entire nation. If something's printed in the Times, people tend to take it seriously.

I agree with Jack Shafer of Slate. Asserting that "journalistic standards were betrayed at the Times," he wrote:
"…Miller continues to haunt the New York Times two and a half years after her Iraq work was widely discredited, because the paper has yet to document how she botched the story of the decade and catalog the role she played in the current White House imbroglio.

"…The Times won't break free of Miller's malevolent spirit until the paper commissions an exorcism in print, akin to the ones it conducted following the Blair and Lee possessions."

Let the exorcism begin.

3 comments:

Andy chu said...

It is sad to see the that the greed of others can corrupt those whos duty it is to act against it. What is even more disheartening, is the lack of profound thought the majority of Americans have with what the media presents.
In this case, Miller is just another piece of the plan that turns the gears of war. What good did she do for her readers by providing her version of the facts? More importantly, was her role in this whole sceme worth it to her?
For those with open eyes, ears, and more importantly open minds, we all know who benefitted from this war, and it certainly wasnt Miller.

Anonymous said...

This goes to show how people can use their power to corrupt others. Miller was just doing her job and she is being penalized for something she does as a profession? I believe that Bush and his gang members are out there to get anyone who gets in the way or tries to disrput their plans. Whatever the case, Miller if Miller lied then she deserves to be punisehed because it discredits a lot of reporters and how they do their job. One the other hand if she told the truth, well from the beginning of my post you'd already know how I feel about the Bush Administration. There is too much uncertatinty and it leads us as citizens to guess who is right and who is telling the truth.

kao saechao said...

This goes to show how people can use their power to corrupt others. Miller was just doing her job and she is being penalized for something she does as a profession? I believe that Bush and his gang members are out there to get anyone who gets in the way or tries to disrput their plans. Whatever the case, Miller if Miller lied then she deserves to be punisehed because it discredits a lot of reporters and how they do their job. One the other hand if she told the truth, well from the beginning of my post you'd already know how I feel about the Bush Administration. There is too much uncertatinty and it leads us as citizens to guess who is right and who is telling the truth.