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Archives: September 2005

Another Miller, Please…

Why did Judith Miller have to cause such a news storm on such a nice day?

Some other Miller notes from today:

  • “MSNBC owned Judith Miller’s release from jail on Thursday night. NBC’s Pete Williams broke the news on Hardball at 7:54pm. The AP didn’t confirm the news for half an hour, and CNN didn’t report it until the second half of Paula Zahn Now. didn’t post the news until 8:45pm. An e-mailer calls it “‘ big, big win on MSNBC…’” (TVNewser)

  • “I just was watching CNN as I woke up and I briefly heard that it took ten more days of negotiations before she was released. I was like-’WTF?’” (Crooks and Liars)

  • “If you’re Bob Bennett, Judith Miller’s top-shelf lawyer, wouldn’t you try to clear this up before your client spent three months in jail? Something about this seems fishy to me.” (The Volokh Conspiracy)

  • Judy speaks, more than explains. Misses her dog. “I was a journalist doing my job and protecting a source.” (E&P)

  • “Could it be that, in the giddiness of the moment, Miller and her attorney(s) neglected to inform Times executive editor Bill Keller and publisher Arthur Sulzberger that their favorite martyr was out of the can and roaming Washington D.C., free as a bird? (CJR Daily)

  • “What does it mean that ‘Scooter’ Libby claims to be shocked that Judith Miller was protecting him and that he presumed she was shielding others?” (Greg Mitchell)

  • “Time magazine has been a tradition in America. (Yet)one federal prosecutor asks for some documents, everyone pulls their underwear over their heads and you turn them over. And not only that–Newsweek breaks the story. Jim [Kelly], what the f**k?” (Jon Stewart)

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Bye Bye Byline?

According to a quick search on the New York Times website, Judith Miller’s last article was on June 23. Anyone want to bet when her next one will be?


We never would have guessed this.

“ABC’s ‘Commander in Chief,’ about a female president played by Geena Davis, did well in ratings but lost to FOX’s ‘House’ among viewers in Washington, D.C.”

More Miller Time (Do you Pinky Swear? Edition)

(We scour the Internet so you don’t have to)

Poor Judy: She’s hasn’t even been out of jail for a full 24 hours and already everyone is asking: What the hell was that whole thing about?

A lot of folks are confused about what exactly compelled Judy to go to jail. (The Note writes, “If you are confused about the circumstances of Miller’s release from jail yesterday, you are not alone.” On CSpan this morning, Matt Cooper said he found the whole affair “quite confusing.”) The very waiver that she just received from Libby is the same one offered to her (and taken by Matt Cooper) months ago. Why didn’t she take it then and why did she take it now? Did she go to jail…for nothing at all? At some point, we’re all going to want to find out what was not okay with the first waiver and what was okay with this one (because most of us can’t seem to figure it out).

Mickey Kaus quotes the NYT piece from this morning (“Other people involved in the case have said Ms. Miller did not understand that the waiver had been freely given”) and says: “That has to be disingenuous. You mean she was sitting in jail all because she never bothered to inquire and find out that the waiver that would free her was genuine?”

Wonkgirl has her own take on it: “Fellow source-hoarder Matt Cooper’s thrilling tale of a last-minute reprieve had seemed cinematic at the time. Good stuff, we thought, but what’s a book about being a journalist martyr without sleeping on cement and not being able to watch CNN? When Miller stayed clammed up while Cooper sang, people wondered what she knew and now it’s clear: She knows the dollar value of minor humiliation and anecdotes about prison laundry.”

Part of it may be that she just didn’t think that Libby’s original waiver was good enough (or at least wasn’t as confident in it as Cooper apparently was) and that she wanted something a bit more personal (we assume that jail turned out to be plenty personal enough for Judy). More odd is that it also seems like she and her lawyer didn’t even try too hard to get that waiver. On Aug. 2, Adam Liptak wrote in the New York Times that “Judy and her lawyers have declined to answer the question of whether they have done anything at all to contact the source and try to obtain a satisfactory waiver.”

Howard Kurtz
provides a great piece today on the subject that’s well worth reading in its entirety and he ponders, “Could it really have turned on that? Say you really, really mean it?” You can almost hear Howard scratching his head at his desk as he writes his piece. His opening line tips off the piece’s tone: “Judy Miller has just spent three months in an Alexandria jail, so I’m not going to criticize her.”

Dan Froomkin
does a great analysis on it and asks, “So what was Miller doing in jail? Was it all just a misunderstanding?”

Also this doozy from Froomkin: “Note to reporters: There is nothing intrinsically noble about keeping your sources’ secrets. Your job, in fact, is to expose them. And if a very senior government official, after telling you something in confidence, then tells you that you don’t have to keep it secret anymore, the proper response is “Hooray, now I can tell the world” — not “Sorry, that’s not good enough for me, I need that in triplicate.” And if you’re going to go to jail invoking important, time-honored journalistic principles, make sure those principles really apply.”

Mediacrity asks “Did Judy Miller make a fool of her supporters?”

According to the LATimes, the tough prison conditions may have been a factor, too (you think?). The lack of CNN and the Internet certainly pushed over the brink, too. Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. was kind enough to serve her a steak dinner last night. No, we don’t think she simply trying to find a way to make it to the Coldplay concert tonight.

Kurtz says that “Miller’s motivation was that prosecutor Pat Fitzgerald was making noises about either charging her with criminal contempt or impaneling another grand jury, which could have extended her stay in Alexandria. But I’m glad, for her sake, that she’s out.”

FishbowlNY makes some good points: “For a change, there are mysteries: it takes a year to get a waiver from Scooter Libby? Are these people mentally challenged? No, they are not. Which means that one of two things happened: (1) Miller blew off Libby’s many offers to release her of responsiblity in order to make a point; or (2) Libby had privately given her very good reason to make her doubt the veracity of his public claims…

“So. As the Times account reads, Libby’s coming on all “Dude, what’s you’re deal? I told you to go ahead and testify,” and Judy’s all “You are so full of it, you so did not.”

Naturally, the majority of our confusion stems from the fact that this is a grand jury case, so secrecy (which leads to confusion which leads to speculation which leads to the dark side…) is the name of the game.

Next up: Grand jury indictments?

GOP and Dems: You both stink

Dana Milbank sums up the PR problems on both sides of the aisle:

However, [the Bush administration] seem to have lost their ability to make everybody else in the Republican Party and all of their surrogates around the country saying exactly the same thing…

Well, [the Democrats are] a disaster but that’s nothing really new. The Democrats seem to have a congenital issue with being disciplined and staying on-message.

When the spin meisters lose, do the reporters win?

“It’s good to be free.”

We bet.

Judy Miller is a free lady today, having been released from jail yesterday afternoon after twelve weeks in jail. Vice President Cheney’s Chief of Staff Lewis “Scooter” Libby phoned Miller last Monday to free her from her confidentiality pledge and Miller testified before the grand jury today.

More is sure to come, but some notable bits:

-NYT Publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. said the paper supported her decision to testify.
-Speaking of the NYT, they were scooped on their own story.
-Arianna Huffington brings up a good point: “What Made Miller Refuse Libby’s Waiver When It Was First Offered But Accept It Now?” (The Washington Post takes a stab at answering that)
-Statements by Sulzberger, Bill Keller, and Judith Miller on Her Release

More later…

Taking Out The Trash 09.29.05

So much news. Such a nice day. We’d rather be outside, so entertain yourself with this:

Hurricane Moving On

Rita and Katrina: You’ve officially jumped the shark.

Take a moment to peruse today’s front pages from around the country. By and large, most papers have stopped going high with pictures from Mother Nature’s evil twin sisters: Rita and Katrina. Obviously, this isn’t much of a surprise: The news cycle is notorious for its short attention span. But the bigger question is this: As local, state and federal governments tackle the enormously important reconstruction tasks, what kind of play will those efforts receive? Will the fascinating (and ongoing) sociological issues emerging from these tragedies get the attention they deserve? Will Americans care enough to read them?

Of course, it won’t be long before our front pages are water-soaked with hurricane coverage all over again.

In the meantime, expect these pictures to soon dominate coverage.

Impartial Reporters

We’ll stay out of the Tom Delay stuff further except to note this: Go to the Drudge Report and try to find a headline somewhere about the majority leader of the U.S. House being indicted.

Flip Cup


We’ve heard of Situation Room drinking games, but we didn’t really think we’d see people doing them on air.

The indictment of Tom Delay is, admittedly, a complicated affair. The scheme, if it is to be believed, involved a very roundabout method of funnelling corporate donations to GOP candidates in Texas. Thankfully, the brave men and women of The Situation Room are there to break down the facts of the case so that Average Joes like us could understand it. How? With plastic cups.

Said CNN business news anchor Ali Velshi: “Without getting into the legality and law, here’s how it kind of looks. You got these three cups here. Now these represent six corporate donors and the money in there. The second one, it says TRMPAC — Texans for Republican Majorities. That’s a political action committee that Tom Delay is involved in. The third is the Republican National Committee branch that distributes state funding.”

See the full clip here.

What’s next: Explaining the invasion of Somalia using a McRib sandwich?

> Also: We’re happy to take caption suggestions for the above photo.

> A reader makes this point: “What was so funny about Velshi’s demonstration is that it was totally wrong. The way he described it, the crime was the the corporate money went to the RNC. That would’ve been a federal crime and would’ve been investigated by Bush’s Justice Department. In fact, it was a state crime. The problem was that the RNC gave the money BACK to Texan candidates (though corporate money to the RNC is also illegal). He needed another cup to properly illustrate it.”