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Saturday, March 11, 2006

Judy, Judy, Judy

I was told last year that Vanity Fair was eagerly courting Judy Miller to write an article for them about her Traitorgate odyssey. According to today's Editor and Publisher, it doesn't seem they were able to get her and instead had to settle for her friend and apologist Marie Brenner (who also helped organize Judy's farewell dinner before she was shipped off to eagerly embrace her martyrdom).

Brenner comes off as a lightweight who doesn't really understand what she's writing about and accepts a rather unsophisticated "journalists vs. bloggers" paradigm hook, line and sinker.

According to Greg Mitchell:
One interesting exchange occurred when Bill Keller, New York Times executive editor, allegedly told Miller back in 2003 that she would have to quit reporting from Iraq because she had become "“radioactive". "You can see it on the blogs." Miller claims she replied, "“Why do you give a shit about the blogs? They do not know anything."” (Brenner relates that Keller disputes this, saying he'’s "pretty sure" he never said any such thing.)

Then she quotes Miller complaining about the lack of editing on the blogs and that sometimes "“slanderous"” attacks on her appear there. But, actually, she is more "“appalled"” by her colleagues "“who believed what they read on the blogs."”

But as time passed, Miller could not escape the blogs, principally Huffington, even though her attorney Floyd Abrams says, "“No one takes this stuff seriously, do they?"” At another point he refers to "the defamation that was running on the blogs."

The article recounts a scene where another lawyer visits Miller in jail and hands her a clip from Huffington, saying, "“You are going to be upset with this."” In view of that attorney, Arianna Huffington and other bloggers were "“passing off speculation as fact" or engaging in "“pure character assassination."” This was a problem because, as Brenner writes, Huffington's blog was "“steadily gaining heft"” and had "“become must reading for the media."

This became particularly troubling when "people at the Times appeared to be talking to Huffington."

Brenner then quotes famed investigator Lowell Bergman as claiming that Huffington'’s idea that Miller was a White House collaborator "“was a fantasy fed by the deep animosity of people toward Judy."
"People at the Times appeared to be talking to Huffington?" Yeah and anyone else who would listen. Judy was loathed by the people she trampled on during her tenure at the Times, people who had to suck it up and take the heat for her crap reporting. She castigates the blogs for passing off speculation as fact? She led the fucking country into war with her quote-unquote "reporting" about non-existent WMDs and then breezily gave herself a pass because her sources misled her (so she says). She makes even the most lowly, conspiracy-theory laden blogger look Pulitzer worthy when compared to what she calls journalism. Blog traffic soars expressly because she is the poster girl for everything that's wrong with traditional media right now.

Judy may have been "appalled" by what people were saying on the blogs, but even our earliest and wildest speculations on the role she played in the outing of Valerie Plame couldn't begin to compare to the reality of the cozy, accomodating relationship she had with the Administration. If she doesn't like the allegations being made about her in the blogs she might want consider the fact that we were only repeating the words of Bill Keller and Maureen Dowd, who all but said she was fucking Scooter Libby. Or the fine people at New York Magazine, who did come out and say she did her reporting with her legs in the air. Nary a blogger in the bunch.

Brenner does get one thing right. The people at the Times were glued to the blogs -- specifically Arianna -- and rubbing their hands together with glee, cackling as they watched Judy finally being held to account for the mountain of bullshit she'd been shoveling for years. If Arianna hadn't taken her on, Judy probably would probably still be working at the Times as if nothing had happened.

Everybody who covered Plame made mistakes as we tried to feed new bits of information into the equation, but relatively little of that happened with regard to Miller. If you go back and read emptywheel's Judy Miller series, definitely the Miller bible in the blogosphere, it holds up remarkably well. Judy was, is and continues to be full of shit and if anyone can find an allegation that was worse than anything she actually did I'd sure love to see it.