The Judith Miller Follies: Deceit Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry

LondonJudith Miller is on a book tour to defend her pre-Iraq war reporting for The New York Times, during which she argues that since her sources said Saddam Hussein was making nukes, who was she to doubt them.

Whoops: Judith Miller with Chris Hayes

I’m not going to enter into details–many others have eviscerated the book and her televised marketing tour, pointing out that mainly Miller was a stenographer for Bush Administration war mongers and ignored dissenting voices and information. Her book is called “The Story: A Reporters’ Journey.” Could have been called “Fairy Tale.”

One notable thing in her spiel, for me anyway, is worship of (usually unidentified) members of the “intelligence community” while at the same time expressing extreme skepticism of sources. She told Jon Stewart on his “Daily Show” that, “All journalists are manipulated and all politicians lie — they all try and spin.”

So, you just write spin, I guess.

Miller provided her basic defense to interviewer Chris Hayes on MSNBC: “No, I don’t feel guilty. As a reporter, I did the very best job I could to disclose to the American people some of the intelligence information that the president and the former vice president got that helped them form their decision to go to war.

“And as the information evolved, I continued to stay with the story. I went to Iraq to  cover soldiers hunting for the weapons we thought were there.”

“Who’s the ‘we?’ Hayes asked.

“The ‘we’ is The New York Times and the American press, who were more or less reporting the exact same story in the lead-up to the war.”

This everybody-did-it defense doesn’t hold water, especially the heavy water needed to produce nuclear weapons. Prominently, reporters for the newspaper chain Knight-Ridder, now the McClatchy Co., threw could water on claims about the existence of a nuclear program. Dissenters spoke to Miller and she blew them off. Other reporters got it wrong, too, but few are making a spectacle of defending themselves. Well, there’s ex-Vice President Dick Cheney, but he’s not a reporter. Miller left the Times in 2005.

For those interested:

Here’s Miller with Chris Hayes.

And a New York Times mea culpa published in 2004, more than a year after the war started.

The NYT published greatest hits from Miller and her sometimes running partner, Michael Gordon (still at the Times).

USA Today dumped on the invasion pretext as the war approached–and reminded readers why to be skeptical.




Daniel Williams

Published by Daniel Williams

I am a former correspondent who, for more than 30 years, did time in China, Southeast Asia, Central America, Mexico, the Middle East, Europe and Africa and covered wars that went from episodic to non-stop. My book, "Forsaken," about Christian persecution in the Middle East came out January, 2016. NextWarNotes is a news and analysis blog designed to fill gaps, provide background and think about what’s next. The name of the site comes from a 1935 article by Ernest Hemingway in Esquire Magazine called “Notes on the Next War,” in which he predicted the coming conflagration in Europe, told why it would happen and warned Americans to stay out.

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