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Monday, August 08, 2005

Fitzgerald Going After NYT Editors?

Aside from Arianna the closed loop that is the beltway bunch say very little about the potential hoisting of the media petard by Patrick Fitzgerald. But last week James Carville appeared on the Don Imus show (before his stint at the Novak meltdown) and said that the New York Times editors may soon be called on the carpet.

Says Carville:
"My sense is he's coming after more people at the New York Times. He's going subpoena Bill Keller and all of them and ask them what Judy Miller told them. And if they don't talk, he's going to stick them in jail."
Now, maybe it's just spin at this point, but it's about fucking time. Although NYT Editor Bill Keller has been playing violin accompaniment in the sonata of the martyred Judy, he has refused to answer questions as to whether she was actually officially working on a story for the paper at the time, and he's certainly never explained her apparent lack of any supervision that allowed her to peddle a bunch of unsubstantiated shit she saw scrawled on some bathroom wall as hard fact.
Carville said there was "heavy, heavy speculation out there" that Miller was being used by the White House to "disseminate this" - an apparent reference to CIA employee Valerie Plame's name.

"There are all sorts of rumors and I hear second hand that [Miller] was screaming out in the news room about this."

The Times, said Carville, "to some extent is going to have to come clean. Because they're going to have to tell us what Judy Miller knew, when she knew it and who she told."

"And there's a lot of people at the Times - and I know this to be a fact - who believe that," he insisted.

"It's going to be very interesting to see," Carville mused, "whether [Miller's] problem is a First Amendment [problem] - i.e., I want to protect a source - or a Fifth Amendment [problem] - I was out spreading this stuff too."
It seems like the Times is starting to worry about their Enquirer-like image as big fucking suckers (although I happen to know that the lawyers for the Enquirer require a lot higher burden of proof before they write those big snitch checks). Arianna writes that Times reporter Doug Jehl has been assigned to do an in-house investigation of the whole Miller matter.

Jehl is an interesting choice for two reasons. One, he already wrote a story on July 28 where he showed he wasn't afraid to bitch slap Keller:
In e-mail messages this week, Bill Keller, the executive editor of The New York Times, and George Freeman, an assistant general counsel of the newspaper, declined to address written questions about whether Ms. Miller was assigned to report about Mr. Wilson's trip, whether she tried to write a story about it, or whether she ever told editors or colleagues at the newspaper that she had obtained information about the role played by Ms. Wilson.
And two, as emptywheel over at the next hurrah reported recently, when Miller wrote the story fabricating a quote by chemical weapons expert Amy Smithson, it was Jehl who shared the bi-line. When the NYT printed the retraction, however, they didn't lay the blame at Judy's feet, so Jehl had to share the shame.

Jehl is one of the only voices at the NYT who has been openly critical of Judy's "work," and as emptywheel points out, he's taken every available opportunity to bag on it. In September of last year, Jehl wrote:
An internal assessment by the Defense Intelligence Agency has concluded that most of the information provided by Iraqi defectors who were made available by the Iraqi National Congress was of little or no value, according to federal officials briefed on the arrangement.

In addition, several Iraqi defectors introduced to American intelligence agents by the exile organization and its leader, Ahmad Chalabi, invented or exaggerated their credentials as people with direct knowledge of the Iraqi government and its suspected unconventional weapons program, the officials said.
Emptywheel's article is excellent background, and it speculates that Jehl may in fact have been naming Judy's editors at the time and painting a big fat road sign for Patrick Fitzgerald about where to start digging.

Interestinger and interestinger.