Judith Miller’s Times: A-Changin’ Back?

judymillah.jpgAnd the pendulum swingeth back: despite last week’s rumors and reports, it’s looking like no, Judith Miller will not be returning to the Times. This week.

We asked NYT spokeswoman Catherine Mathis via email yesterday if Miller would be back, in what capacity, when, and if there were plans for her to write that op-ed piece addressing what’s been said about her in (and by reps of) the paper. Mathis emailed back (responsive and prompt as always), saying succinctly: “We do not expect her to return on Monday.”

Hmm. No word on the other points. Over at the Media Mob, Gabe Sherman corroborates and goes further, reporting that the op-ed piece is the major sticking point, be it for staying or going:

Last week, the Times asked Miller to cut short her leave of absence and return to the paper Monday or Tuesday in an “unspecified editing” role, a source with knowledge of the situation said… Miller is insistent, sources on both sides of the negotiation said, on getting a forum to rebut public criticisms of her by executive editor Bill Keller, columnist Maureen Dowd and public editor Byron Calame. With the Times unwilling to grant Miller the space, the negotiations are at an impasse.

I’m going to be unoriginal and make a prediction: any return to the Times will be predicated on Miller taking her lumps and swallowing the criticism. If she gets the op-ed space, it’s because she’s on the way out and never coming back. One thing Miller has yet to exhibit throughout this entire situation is insitutional loyalty; if she stays at the Times, the onus will be on her to show it. But honestly, I doubt she’ll stay. So, maybe an op-ed piece — it’s a fairly easy concession to make, especially if Barney Calame, Maureen Dowd and co. are on hand to “pile on” after. Fishbowl’s two cents. Free for you, Bill Keller.

Live Long and Propsper at the Times, Judy Miller [FishbowlNY]