Perhaps the most revealing moment from this morning’s National Press Club panel discussion (“Journalists to Jail, Pt. II”), with featured guest Judy Miller (oh, and Newsweek’s Michael Isikoff, American Urban Radio Networks’ April Ryan, Baker & Hostetler attorney Robert D. Lystad and National Press Club President Rick Dunham), took place in the elevator.
On the way to the Press Club’s 13th floor, I found myself alone in the elevator with Miss Miller.
“Tough couple of weeks, huh?” I asked.
“Ugh. There’s never a dull moment,” Miller said, fumbling nervously through her enormous shoulder bag for something she never found. She was enormously friendly and kind, without a bit of pretension or snobbery about her, but also nervously jittery and clearly showing signs of exhaustion that recent events have brought down upon her (or that she’s brought down upon herself, depending on your take). Apparently, the trip to the spa yesterday didn’t fully do the job.
She looked down at my shoes (which were just that: shoes…nothing fancy or special…[brown Skechers, if you must know]) and said:
“Your feet must be warm in those.”
“Pardon?” I asked, thoroughly confused by the curveball (oops! Pardon the pun…)
But I looked down at her shoes–heels–and understood what she meant: Her thin shoes must not have been keeping her toes warm in this morning’s brisk Washington weather.
“You see, I’m still trying to get acclimatized to the cold winter ahead,” she said.
What a perfect metaphor, I thought.
The elevator opened and I let Judy walk out of the elevator ahead of me and walk towards what will certainly be a cold winter indeed for Ms. Run Amok.
Panel discussion notes after the jump…
The Press Club was jammed with cameras (twelve at one count) and as Miller sat down next to Isikoff at the table (by the way, the Press Club apparently doesn’t know how to spell Isikoff’s name…see pic below…), the swarm of cameramen was reminiscent of a Senate panel, something Judy can relate to.
Miller summed up her involvement in Plamegate thusly: “Since I didn’t write a story–and the New York Times didn’t either–it was just a conversation and that was that.”
Ah, if it were only that simple…
She spoke of her time in jail–”isolating, hugely depressing and a stressful place to be”–and said that “I was happiest when I could remind myself that I was still a journalist, profiling and covering life inside the Alexandria Detention Center.”
Of course, as Tina Brown has already pointed out, perhaps Judy wasn’t merely playing make-believe-reporter, but instead, taking notes for her future book on the matter.
- She also said that the Post was devoured by inmates in jail…especially the Metro section. Go Metro!
- Judy reminded the audience that there’s a “No whining” sign over her–former–desk at the New York Times…With her apparent proclivity to throw stones at everyone’s glass house but her own, we have to wonder if she ever bothered to look up at the darn thing.
- “I’m very worried about Dana Priest and the Washington Post case.” Miller said she saw parallels between the Post case and her own and was worried that the swiftness with which the CIA has launched an investigation might portend future danger. She said that she had discussed the case with Congressman Mike Pence, the chief sponsor of a federal shield law floating around Congress, and even he wasn’t convinced that Priest and the Post would be covered even by his proposed legislation.
“We are going to see more and more of these national security cases and everyone who works in this field is threatened.”
Bob Lystad concurred, adding that “the legal situation is dire.”
- “I didn’t understand the rules of the game when I got into this,” Miller said.
- Correcting the phrasing of a questioner, Miller said, “I wasn’t driven out of the New York Times–I left the New York Times.”
- “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.”
- “It was becoming time to leave the Times anyway, because I wanted to speak out more on issues I care about. I think that every journalist comes to this point at some point in their career…I’m completely satisfied with my departure from the New York Times.”
- At one point, Isikoff (who has come under attack before for his own reporting) came to Miller’s defense. “I know that Judy has come under a lot of attack recently…. People should be judged by the entirety of their career, not one story and Judy’s done some remarkable work…. Everyone in my field worth their salt knows that.”
- Clearly, Adam Clymer (pictured below) has to be wondering what the hell has happened to his beloved paper as of late.
- Oh, and Isikoff still rocks a backpack. Awesome.