Judith Miller Does About Face on Bush But Implies Blogs Are Turbo-Charged Tabloids


I’m sure that many will see Judith Miller’s comments in this report as an enormous “make-over”.
Miller was speaking at Kansas State University’s “Community Readiness Communications: Accurate Messages in Times of Crisis” conference.
Nonetheless I think it’s important to hear what people like Miller are saying — even if they are trying to reframe their role in the Bush administration’s massive expansion of Executive authority and the hyping of the WMD threat used in part to justify the invasion of Iraq.
Some of the highlights from Jan Biles’ interesting article:

Judith Miller, a former New York Times investigative reporter who went to jail to protect a confidential source, said the balance between national security and civil liberties has been tipped, allowing the Bush administration to become secretive about its decisions, intrusive into public lives and reluctant to share information the public has a right to know.
Miller said many Americans don’t understand how their access to information and the freedom of the press have been affected in the past few years.
“We are less free and less safe,” she said, explaining that there is a “growing secrecy in the name of national security.”

Miller continues to seriously decry the secrecy obsessions of this government:

Miller said “no one can deny lives haven’t changed since 9/11” and that national security is a concern, but the federal government has used that fear to justify eavesdropping on phone conversations and tapping into e-mails without warrants and classifying information that once was available to the public.
“More than 15 million documents were classified last year,” she said, explaining that translates into 125 documents a minute. “It’s intimidation by classification.”
And American citizens are paying for it, she said, to the tune of $7.2 billion in fiscal year 2004.
How can an electorate be free and informed if it is denied information? Miller asked. Without a free press, such stories as the torture of prisoners at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison, warrantless wiretapping and CIA prisons in Eastern Europe wouldn’t have been reported, she said.
“People need to know what the government is doing in order to debate,” she said.

I couldn’t agree more with Miller.
However, one part of Miller’s commentary did irritate. She takes on bloggers:

“I’m worried about bloggers,” she said. “(A post) starts as a rumor and within 24 hours it’s repeated as fact.”
While she advocates a federal shield law to protect mainstream journalists from divulging their sources, she doesn’t favor extending that to bloggers who don’t follow the standards and ethnics of the journalism industry.
Still, she wouldn’t restrict a blogger’s right to publish online. She said some bloggers have been invaluable in uncovering government flaws.
“I’m glad to welcome them as long as they agree to the standards,” she said.

I’m glad that Miller sees some positives among blogs — but not enough in my view.
Turn the tables around, Judith.
The level of sloppy journalism, follow-the-leader journalism, and misreporting in the mainstream media has also increased dramatically in these times — and Miller’s reports were part of that trend.
This blog’s reporting on John Bolton proved to be among the most accurate and richly detailed among blogs and mainstream media — but the mainstream media has at nearly every step of the Bolton confirmation process continued to parrot the line that Bolton would successfully be confirmed.
This blog, The Washington Note anticipated and reported every time their would be a hiccup or stall in the process — anticipated George Voinovich’s objections to Bolton in the first confirmation attempt — and anticipated Lincoln Chafee’s objections the second time.
The mainstream media was largely absent in that kind of reporting.
Blogs need to maintain humility — but when someone like Judith Miller comments on the notion that blogs are essentially turbo-charged tabloids, she needs to reflect on her failings and those of her industry.

— Steve Clemons


11 comments on “Judith Miller Does About Face on Bush But Implies Blogs Are Turbo-Charged Tabloids

  1. Kathleen says:

    Miller the Mouthpiece mouthes on and on and on. Someone, please, stick an apple in it.


  2. Frank says:

    If ever there was a waste of ones and zeros, it is Steve’s commentary about what Judith Miller said, or believes. I’am sure she is happy about anything that is written about her. A comment in this blog, makes her more of a saleable item for whomever. This is a “I don’t care what you said, but spell my name right”, kind of appreciation.
    Juddy Miler, you made your bloody contribution in the history of how we got into the chaotic predicament in Iraq, now go back into your steno mode and write your reflections about the aspen trees in Colorado..I can think of one indictable person who will be interested in those reflections.


  3. Carroll says:

    Judith is in deep denial about herself.


  4. daCascadian says:

    POA nails it as does Christian.
    Judith Miller lecturing ANYONE on ethics is a real hoot. Get off your knees lady & come clean.
    Almost unbelieveable, almost I say.
    “The internet can be as informative as the library of Alexandria or as crass as a bathroom wall.” – GSD-firedoglake.com


  5. john o. says:

    I’m with POA. Judy Miller has more balls than a brass monkey suggesting that Blogs fall short of the standards/ethics of the MSM. She is an aider and abettor of war criminals who should be in the dock next to Scooter. At the very least she should have the decency to shut up.


  6. cs, art is bread says:

    I cannot understand why this woman is invited to speak anywhere. She’s a professional flibberigibbet.


  7. Himself says:

    Oh, the irony for a hack like Miller to project her own rumor mongering tendencies onto bloggers. Standards? Heh. Ethics?!? Hee hee hee. Too funny.
    I wonder why Biles didn’t mention the name of Miller’s “confidential source”, and Miller’s unseemly relationship with him. Connected at the roots like the Aspens out west and all.
    Like many, many old-school print journalists I have encountered, Miller is deeply threatened by and distrustful of the blogging phenomenon. Good journalists needn’t worry; their skills will always be needed. But hacks who have insinuated themselves into influential positions close to power should be very, very concerned.
    Blog on, Mr. Clemons, blog on!


  8. Alex says:

    Judith Miller…Graduated with honors from the Montgomery Ward Kneepad School of Journalism & Secretarial Arts.
    Media Whore!


  9. Ben Rosengart says:

    It’s unbelievable to me that a person with Miller’s record can assail anyone’s credibility and be taken seriously. But, there it is. These are strange times we live in.


  10. Pissed Off American says:

    Still, she wouldn’t restrict a blogger’s right to publish online. She said some bloggers have been invaluable in uncovering government flaws.
    “I’m glad to welcome them as long as they agree to the standards,” she said.
    “Standards”???? Coming from Miller, thats hilarious. She and Novak deserve to be in prison.


  11. Christian says:

    Amen, brother.
    Every hand-wringing comment on blogs from a threatenened hack just has me laughing at the nerve of it, rather than angry.
    Sure, you can spend the day getting gossip and snark online.
    You could also get some weapons profliferation coverage far beyond anything in the Washington Post at Arms Control Wonk, get economic commentary far more sophisticated than the Washington Post (James Glassman, Dow 36,000!), get detailed policy debate far beyond the lazy, conventional wisdom spewing of Brooks, Tierney, and Mallaby.
    You break detailed Washington stories, Josh Marshall breaks stories (Anyone who read him wouldn’t have been suprised at the play of corruption in the midterms, barely discussed in the press).
    When my family had a probate/estate issue, I got more detailed and accurate description of the law from a single-lawyer practice’s blog than i could find anywhere else.
    The percentage of useful and sophisticated information, original reporting, and advanced commentary on the internet is probably greater than that of the papers and certainly than the uselessness of tv, just as the outlet climbs to infinity there is infinitely more crap. But descriminating and curious readers know it and bypass the junk for the jewels.
    She might as well blame paper.
    And anyone who thinks about that for a minute would have given up on anyone with such an empty argument ages ago


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