Judith Miller: Postscript to the Postscript

As if this is the last thing we’ll be writing about her, but it behooves us to wrap up the Judith Miller ink-frenzy following this weekend’s NYT investigative report and mea-culpa-if-only-I-could-rememba.

Here are the bullet points, because frankly we’re tired of writing complete sentences about her:

  • What’s with the clearance, Clarence? Why did Judith Miller have high-level security clearance during her embed in Iraq? People are scratching their heads about it across the board. Meanwhile, “officials from the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Pentagon” say they seriously have no clue what she’s talking about. Apparently they don’t just give that stuff out. Another mystery, just ’cause we don’t have enough!
  • The Memo: Bill Keller is very good at striking a menschly note, and his “postscript” memo to New York Times staffers yesterday an excellent example. He referenced “the fine, rigorous piece of journalism we published Sunday” and we think he’s not referring to Judy’s piece. Judy’s convoluted motives/actions notwithstanding, he returns to the real point of the whole matter: “I hope my first instinct — and the paper’s — would still be to defend a reporter in the line of duty, even if the circumstances lack the comfort of moral clarity.” Good on you, Bill. Full memo after the jump.
  • Congratulations on your “Best Memory Ever!” Award: Judith Miller is still on to recieve the Society of Professional Journalists’ First Amendment Award on Tuesday. A reader writes: “Miller is receiving a First Amendment Award for going to jail to protect a source, who she can’t $%#@&# remember who it is!! Are you kidding?” SJP (not the one who wears Manolos) says that the award is “to recognize someone doing an extraordinary thing to further the First Amendment. I don’t have any way of knowing what all of her motives were, but we do know that she spent 85 days in jail and that act drew great attention to the First Amendment.” Fair enough.
  • Can’t Get It Out of My Head: Howie Kurtz wonders why this story “has become so all-consuming for so many people.” Then it hits him: it’s about the war! We’re fighting about the war, again! He’s got a good round-up (plus props to the Times for posting a page of blogger reaction). He also cites Farhad Manjoo’s Salon piece, which is quickly becoming one of the staple must-reads of this case. If you can read just one thing, read that. If you have more time, of course, stick around Fishbowl for more ELO references. Nothin’ cooler’n that!

Oh, there’s more – of course there’s more. We’ll get to it later, after you’ve got “Can’t Get It Out Of My Head” out of your head.

UPDATE: Holy moly, FishbowlNY is #6 on the NYT’s impromptu Judy-Miller-on-the-blogs MEL! You like us, you really like us!!


  • Judith Miller: Answers, barely
  • Judith Miller: Thoughts from the Armchair Critics
  • Judith Miller: Clues in “Hard News”
  • Switched at Birth? Judith Miller and Dawn Eden


    I wanted to add a personal postscript to the fine, rigorous piece of journalism we published Sunday.

    Actually,”postscript” implies an end, and I suppose it’s too early to hope for that just yet.

    But in the world beyond the media water coolers, the focus will shift back to more momentous stories — possibly including the leak investigation in which, for all we know, this paper’s ordeal may have been more a digression than a climax. With any luck all of you can resume your undistracted, full-throttle pursuit of putting out the best news report in the world. This is not to say that you should withhold your questions. You are welcome to e-mail your immediate concerns to Jill or John, and we will get you answers to you as best we can.

    This week and next I’m visiting our correspondents in Asia. By telephone and e-mail, I intend to remain, along with the publisher, very much a part of our decision making. When I get back I’ll still have some important loose ends to tie up from this episode. In the meantime, my thanks to all of you who have suffered patiently (and impatiently) the inherent frustration of trying to cover a story in which we became a subject, my thanks to Jon Landman and the reporters who did us proud on Sunday, and my warmest thanks to the many of you who have expressed solidarity in a time of anxiety.

    If I had it to do over, there is probably much I’d do differently, and we can chew on the lessons learned when I return, but I hope my first instinct — and the paper’s — would still be to defend a reporter in the line of duty, even if the circumstances lack the comfort of moral clarity.

    Best, Bill