Sunday, October 23, 2005

The Empty Suit Serves His Masters

Calame: Piles on Miller

The Empty Suit, New York Times spokesman (a/k/a "public editor") Barney Calame, turned out in full Times-flack regalia in his column today, as he belatedly weighs in -- as usual, at the tail end of the furor -- on the Judith Miller disaster. Now that Miller has been thoroughly discredited, he naturally enough joins hands with far-left yapper Maureen Dowd, whose Saturday column called on Miller to take a hike.

This parody of a newspaper ombudsman says that the Times' story last Sunday "answered most of my fundamental questions." Well, of course they did, because his "fundamental question" did not include the one that would have most discomfitted the Times management he loyally serves: Why did Times executive editor Bill Keller yank Miller off her beat in 2003? Was she making up stuff, or was the Times caving in to pressure from the loony left?

Also, more to the point in all the furor over Miller, why isn't the Times and its parody of public editor all whipped up into a fury over the newspaper's numerous failings in covering other stories -- such as, to site one obvious example, the Middle East? As indicated in this recent item, Times editors are openly biased in their coverage of the Israel-Palestinian crisis.

The reason, of course, is that the Times has long been uncomfortable about protecting Miller, not because her journalism is suspect but because her politics are suspect -- and now it has cut her loose.

Unlike most reporters at the newspaper, her stories -- such as, most recently, her pieces on the UN Oil for Food Scandal -- have gained her the confidence of conservatives. Yet when she got caught up in this Valerie Plame mess, the paper had an institutional interest to protect her. Complicating matters was that she had considerable tenure, and unusual freedom, within the Times.

So there has always been a tension at the Times between its hatred of the Bush administration and its position in support of a reporter who was hated by the left as being too favorable to the Bushies.

Now that Miller is out of prison, the Times has begun to back off -- you can see that in Keller's statements in recent days. The Suit has now loyally served his masters by piling on.

No question, Miller screwed the pooch in her Iraq coverage. But the Times screws the pooch every day in just about every major story that it covers. Miller, with the Suit's enthusistic help, is fast on her way to becoming a scapegoat for a newspaper whose credibility has been on the wane for years.