Media in Trouble: All the news thats UNfit to print!: Two Articles

"The information of the people at large can alone make them safe, as they are the sole depositary of our political and religious freedom." --Thomas Jefferson 1810

Monday, October 17, 2005

Two Articles

First read this then read this. Both will require a wee bit of time.

The first article is perhaps the finest piece of journalism written by the NYT thus far on the Plame story. The ladder, sadly enough, is perhaps the worse. The first is chock full of goodness, reflecting just how much wankery was going on from the very beginning of this affair. The second, (should you have read it after the first) will again reflect wankery, of the author.

I find it rather amazing, that Miller going to jail was totally her decision. She had noone to protect, and was rather encouraged to testify. She however, in her convoluted sense of reality and whatever she defines the words "I told Mr. Abrams that the waiver was voluntary," decided jail was the proper recourse to doing precisely what Libby wanted her to do. To me this only furthers the idea that Miller and Libby are having some sort of "relationship."

Miller's account is still disturbing. For how can this woman be allowed to publish anything else after all the Van Natta Jr. article claims (and was edited and vetted) to be true? She is obviously a pathological liar whom has forced her editors, and her bosses (indeed the head cheese of the Times) to stick by some wierd cause that they knew from the day Tate (Libby's lawyer) spoke to them had no application to Miller's situation. They wrote editorials and editorials over and over again, claiming some 1st ammendment high ground, while skepticism and speculation mounted in the public. The Publisher and Editor in Chief of the trendsetting newspaper of the land knew they were shoveling shit at the public the entire time. They knew Libby had given Miller a voluntary waiver, yet they hid behind and pressed forward a shield law that wouldn't even apply towards Miller's case. In fact, by doing so, they may have jeopardized any possibility of a federal shield law comming to pass. Great way to stick up for journalism guys!

Congressional hearings took place for said shield law. Other journalists put their good names and reputations behind their Congressional testimonies. What's worse, Keller and Sulzberger cite concern over the possible chinks in Miller's (non-exhistent) case that could have come about had they spoken about what they knew. This is laughable, we live in a world where journalists (like our Miller admits in her piece) are more than willing to protect sources annonimity by giving them not only the title of "senior administration officials" but "former Hill staffer" so as not to give the appearance of the "White House attacking WIlson"; I am sure they could have told at least their own Bill Saffire to save his breath in front of congress... you know..."off-the-record."

Then there is this gem from the middle of the Van Natta piece:

Still, Mr. Keller said the case was not ideal: "I wish it had been a clear-cut whistle-blower case. I wish it had been a reporter who came with less public baggage."

Whistle-blower case? Whistle-blower case? Clear-cut? Mr. Keller, you have been in the news business long enough to be able to distinguish a whistle-blower case (clear-cut or otherwise) from a Vice President of the United States Chief of Staff bitching about a low-level ambassador. Typically, whistle-blower cases (which I didn't know had certain distinctions like clear-cut) involve people without power, describing how those IN power are abusing said POWER. Wether or not any whistle-blower case has different levels of clear-cuttedness should also be explored, but I will leave that to Mr. Keller himself. The only way Scotter Libby could possibly be considered a whistle-blower, would be if he were ratting on Dick Cheney's abuses in those clandestine meetings with neocons at the Pentagon. If Scooter boy was interested in outing Cheney, then yes, I would give him whistle-blower status. Otherwise, it baffles me how Bill Keller, who has been in the news business for 35 years, can draw any whistle-bloweresque similarities here.

Other things like Miller worrying about her security clearance is laughable as well. Anyone going to Iraq gets some sort of classified clearance, but as many commenters are pointing out, that clearance is gone once you leave the assignment for which you have been granted clearance. I am sure Fitzgerald knows this, and I am sure Miller is not telling the total truth when she says:
I told Mr. Fitzgerald that Mr. Libby might have thought I still had security clearance, given my special embedded status in Iraq.

Fitzgerald, I am sure has become quite the expert on what it means to have security clearance and how nobody in their right mind could possibly believe this previous statement. Libby, being chief of VP staff, having gone to the training that everyone at that level goes through in the first weeks of taking that job, had to know that any clearance Judy had in Iraq stayed in Iraq. However, let's say Judy IS still carrying some sort of clearance. To me, that means she's an asset. I have long had a tin foil hat theory on this, and I thought the evidence was there, but reading these accounts really make me skeptical. First and foremost, I think Judy is a liar. She may like to play "spy vs. spy" but she is obviously not so great at it. If she were a better spy she would find the WMD, and she wouldn't spend all this time in jail, her cyanide pill would have safely found its way into her tummy long ago. So to recap, the above statement, is a lie. Either that, or she herself had forgotten her own classified info training program.

Any way you slice it, its poor journalism, and an editor should have picked this up.

All in all, the soap opera is not yet ended. For indictments have yet to be handed out. However, from these two accounts printed in the Grey Lady's pages I see nothing but a bunch of loosers. Sulzberger and Keller for the obvious reasons, Miller for lying to everyone even in what is hopefully her last published article, and of course the public whom relies on "The Grey Lady" for "all the news that's fit to print." Of course, due to what one publisher, editor, and reporter deem "fit to print," it is perhaps time to rescind the prestige bestowed upon the "paper of record."

(aside: I would go on, but in Bloglandia, I am decades late to the story. Jay Rosen has a good roundup of what exactly other folks are saying. I have read much of it, and I am sure others have made similar points to mine. However, I doubt anyone picked appart the whistle-blower stuff.)