Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Miller: "It's called reporting."

Does the Judy Miller tale feel like old news to you? Does to me. But a colleague sent me this interview from NPR's "On the Media," and the excerpt below seemed to me to be so quintessentially Judy, so smart, so disturbing, that I thought it worth noting:

BOB GARFIELD: By your own retelling, in the New York Times, you said that you agreed in the conversations with Scooter Libby that you would identify him not as a "high White House official" but in fact as a "former [Capitol] Hill staffer," a technical truth. Now, it never showed up in the newspaper but you made an agreement with him to identify him that way.

JUDITH MILLER: No, I did not.

BOB GARFIELD: Am I correct?

JUDITH MILLER: No, you are wrong. I never agreed to identify Scooter Libby in print by that attribution. I only - I agreed to listen to what he had to say under that attribution. If I had ever used that information, I would have gone back to him, as I have done with other sources, and said, "You know, this attribution simply won't fly. Let's talk about an attribution which reflects who you really are but doesn't identify you."

BOB GARFIELD: You said to him, "Yes, I will listen to your story as a former Capitol Hill staffer," and then you let him tell you what he had to tell you. Correct?

JUDITH MILLER: Absolutely.

BOB GARFIELD: And then had you decided to print, then you would go back and try to get him to change the terms of the - [OVERTALK]

JUDITH MILLER: Not try to get him. He would either change the attribution or I wouldn't use the information, or I would go to somebody else for the information and get it confirmed, hopefully on the record, which is what happens all the time in Washington national security reporting.

BOB GARFIELD: Well, then forgive, please, the "do you still beat your wife" question, but if you had no intention of using that attribution that you negotiated, then why have the negotiation to begin with? I mean - [OVERTALK]

JUDITH MILLER: 'Cause I was interested in listening to what the man had to say.

BOB GARFIELD: So one promise you make to your source is so important that you'll go to jail to honor it but another is just a trick to get information.

JUDITH MILLER: No, it's not a trick. It's called reporting. [OVERTALK]

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Judy now has her own site: http://judithmiller.org/

Enough said. - CD
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