Monday, October 17, 2005

The Judy Beat 

Judy does make a rather troublesome Hero to Journalism, doesn't she?

Craig Pyes, a former contract writer for the Times who teamed up with Miller for a series on al Qaeda, complained about her in a December 2000 memo to Times editors and asked that his byline not appear on one piece.

"I'm not willing to work further on this project with Judy Miller," wrote Pyes, who now writes for the Los Angeles Times. He added: "I do not trust her work, her judgment, or her conduct. She is an advocate, and her actions threaten the integrity of the enterprise, and of everyone who works with her . . . She has turned in a draft of a story of a collective enterprise that is little more than dictation from government sources over several days, filled with unproven assertions and factual inaccuracies," and "tried to stampede it into the paper."

Judy's first-person piece in Sunday's Times did end up being a little more interesting than the official one, loaded, as it was, with Reaganesque plausible deniability and Nixonian stonewalling.

And it's made all the more interesting with this little revelation:

The paper's two-story Sunday package--a 5,800-word account of Miller's role in the Valerie Plame affair and Miller's own first-person tale of her conversations with vice-presidential chief of staff I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby--missed the deadline to be included in the bulldog edition, 100,000 copies distributed nationally.

Judy may not be a very good journalist, but she is an exceptionally experienced one -- I think she probably could've made the deadline if she'd really, really wanted to. But, of course, that may have given her colleagues a chance to fact-check her piece and quote the relevant portions with that subtle "WTF?!" tone the Times occasionally trades in when dealing with the especially easily disproved:

It is not clear why. Ms. Miller said in an interview that she "made a strong recommendation to my editor" that an article be pursued. "I was told no," she said. She would not identify the editor.

Ms. Abramson, the Washington bureau chief at the time, said Ms. Miller never made any such recommendation.

Oh, the fun never ends.

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