Why the Times is stoning its own reporter

The bizarre and unprecedented attack by the New York Times on one of its own reporters, Judith Miller, has had me scratching my jaw for several days now. If she had done something so improper that it merited a public attack on her by her own paper, why hadnít she simply been fired? And if what she had done did not merit firing, then why the attack? John Podhoretz has what sounds to me like a plausible explanation, and itís not pretty. The attack (which even includes unsupported insinuations of an illicit relationship between Miller and vice presidential aide Lewis Libby, though blogger David Kline thinks there is reason to suspect an affair, and even suggests that covering up the affair was Millerís motive for refusing to testify and going to jail) has nothing to do with its ostensible cause, Millerís role in the Valerie Plame matter; after all, Miller didnít even publish Plameís name. Rather, the Times is getting back at Miller for having written articles in 2002 and 2003 supporting the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Obviously, they canít fire Miller for this offense, since the whole world, including other Times writers as well as all the parties that virulently opposed the war, also believed Iraq had WMDs. So instead the Timesí editors fold the Plame matter into the WMDs matter and have a public stoning of one of their own. In short, the attack on Miller is just another manifestation of the Timesí ever-seething Bush hatred.

Unfortunately, Podhoretz undermines his credibility as an interpreter of the story when he gets a minor fact wrong which even I caught, who presumably have only read a tiny fraction of what heís read on this matter. He says Miller failed to recognize Libby when they ran into each other in Colorado. As Millerís own Times article about her testimony made clear in detail (itís easier to find the quote in Klineís blog entry mentioned above than in the International Herald Tribune reprint of Millerís article), Miller had seen Libby at a conference in Aspen, Colorado, then ran into him in Jackson Hole, Wyoming a few days later, and failed to recognize him at first in his cowboy hat. One could write a big article on how the minicons, particularly Podhoretz, constantly get details like this wrong. But maybe Podhoretz can be excused in this instance since all those western states seem the same to him.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 25, 2005 08:55 AM | Send

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