Judith Miller: Do not go gently into that good night post-NYT spin zone

Judy and Andrea, BFFs.jpgYesterday was the first day of the rest of Judith Miller’s post-New York Times life, and she is clearly not planning to slink gently into obscurity. Yesterday she started with a chatty breakfast with the New York Post‘s Andrea Peyser and wrapped up on Larry King, and today she defended her position — strongly — on NPR’s Morning Edition.

We will probably never know the terms of her settlement agreement with the Times, but gag order was clearly not part of it.

Bringing it on Larry King:

LARRY: …and suddenly, a lot of people took you on, including Maureen Dowd at your own paper. Arianna Huffington went like wild about you. What do you make of that?

MILLER: Well, I think I just want to talk about the serious attacks and criticism.


(Note: Call-in questions were not accepted, an unusual prohibition for Larry King noted by an exasperated Romenesko letter-writer: “When’s the last time that happened? I’m guessing that the omission is as rare as a reporter getting a security clearance from the Pentagon.” Jay Rosen was similarly irked by the fact that Miller won’t be taking questions at the Pajamas kickoff; Roger Simon told me he was “optimistic” that she might.)

Meanwhile, Pinch Sulzberger took his side to Charlie Rose, unintentionally echoing Howell Raines just a few years previously, and apparently coming off about as believably, dismissing the Miller matter as “a rather small bore issue in the big scheme of things” and no biggie next to Jayson Blair. Update: Whatev, says Jack Shafer, Sulzberger avoids and obfuscates like Scott McClellan, and he’s just as slippery.

Says BW media columnist Jon Fine: “Subtext: Judy Miller takes her case to the people. Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr. takes his case to his people. Advantage: Miller.”

This morning on NPR, Judy got a little snippity, possibly because interviewer Renee Montagne was no Larry King/Lou Dobbs (not too long and totally worth a listen here). Commenting icily on Maureen Dowd‘s speculation that Judy’s jail stint was a grab at “career rehabilitation”: “Anyone who asserts that knows nothing about jail, nothing about me. It was insulting, and it was painful, and it was untrue.”

Meanwhile, Judy has stepped up her spin on her faulty WMD reporting, insisting (as she did in her Farewell Letter) it didn’t come from her but her sources, and also the lack of follow-up she was permitted. She said as much on NPR (and also scoffs at the notion that it was all her fault, anyway: “What are editors for?”).

And from this morning’s National Press Club panel discussion in D.C. (“Journalists to Jail, Pt. II”), faithfully transcribed by FishbowlDC:

“I have no regrets about the decisions I have made.” She later clarified that remark: “I regret the fact that articles appeared based on intelligence that turned out to be faulty” and “I regret not being able to follow up with my own reporting.”

She also clarified an important point: Correcting the phrasing of a questioner, Miller said, “I wasn’t driven out of the New York Times — I left the New York Times.” (NB FishbowlDC has an awesome report, including a Judy-in-the-elevator exclusive and yet another reason to heart Michael Isikoff).

Finally, there’s Andrea Peyser’s account of her love-in with Judy at Balthazar(clearly accompanied by Kool-Aid cocktails), in which Judy gets off a few punches of her own at MoDo (oy, please let the catfight stuff end) and spins Bill Keller‘s clarification of “entanglement” as an apology.

Upshot: In the post-retirment spin wars, it’s looks to be a decisive “Advantage: Judy.” Clearly the NYT has been using LeAnn DeVette for PR.