Sunday, October 16, 2005

Judy, Judy, Judy.....

Reading the lengthy, poorly written New York Times article on the Judith Miller mess today, and the accompanying lengthy and poorly written article by Miller herself, I experienced what can only be described as a "Cary Grant moment." I kept repeating to myself that movie line he never said: "Judy, Judy, Judy."

So many words, so little honesty, so much obfuscation. Judy, Judy, Judy...

Where does one begin? Well, let's start with the gaping "plot holes," such as to shame a B-movie director from the 1940s:

1. First and foremost, did Scooter Libby's lawyer do something really naughty? According to Miller, "this was what [her lawyer Floyd] Abrams told her about his conversation with [Libby's lawyer] Mr. Tate: "He was pressing about what you would say. When I wouldn't give him an assurance that you would exonerate Libby, if you were to cooperate, he then immediately gave me this, 'Don't go there, or, we don't want you there.' "

This is serious stuff. Sounds like.... what do the lawyers call it, "obstruction of justice"? Tate denies it. Abrams..... hey, he was the supposed conduit. Whose side is he on, Miller's or Tate's? The Times story doesn't say, one way or the other.

That's the biggie, the real elephant in the room. A couple of others:

2. The seven-day gap. After getting a letter from Libby telling her to testify, Miller "told her lawyers that she still needed to hear from Mr. Libby in person." She then had a "10-minute jailhouse conference call on Sept. 19 with Mr. Libby" that satisfied her. Oooookay. What happened next? "At 1 p.m. on Sept. 26, Ms. Miller convened her lawyers in the jailhouse law library. All the lawyers agreed that Mr. Libby had released Ms. Miller from the pledge of confidentiality."

Whoa! Whoa! By my mathematics, 26-19=7. Seven days! Why the delay? If she was suddenly "convinced," why did she take seven days to "convene her lawyers"? She was sitting in jail, for Pete's sake. Again: The Times story doesn't say, one way or the other.

3. Why was Miller taken off the Iraq story? After Bill Keller became executive editor, "Within a few weeks, in one of his first personnel moves, Mr. Keller told Ms. Miller that she could no longer cover Iraq and weapons issues." Why? Surely the Times wouldn't do that just because a reporter's sources were mistaken (as they sure as hell were on WMDs, not just in what they told Miller, but what they told the rest of the world). Did the Times feel that she was fabricating stuff? Or was the paper caving in to its critics on the Left, who have long despised her stories? Again, The Times story doesn't say, one way or the other.

Those are only the first three that stand out -- there are plenty of others. But you know what? I am not sure I care.

The only thing that is at stake, after all, is the credibility and prestige of the New York Times. I might have cared back when the Times was a great newspaper. But nowadays, with its systematic bias and rigidly ideological editorial page and parody of a public editor, nonpartisan media critics agree that it has fallen off its pedestal.

I guess all you can really say is this: "Another credibility crisis at the New York Times. So what else is new?"

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