One would do well to pay close attention to the photo accompanying the NYT’s latest attempt to put lipstick on their prize pig.:
Judith Miller was greeted in the New York Times newsroom Monday by John M. Geddes, managing editor, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the publisher, left, and Bill Keller, the executive editor.
reads the caption. The pic itself suggests a remake of All That Heaven Allows. Remember that scene where Rock Hudson’s gardner takes Jane Wyman’s prim suburban matron to meet his friends who live in the woods, wear checked shirts, drink wine and sing? Here we see Judy, staring lovingly into Bill Keller’s punim — just the way Virginia Grey did with Rock, as Punch (in the Jane Wyman spot) looks on in cheerful awe.
Judith Miller, the New York Times reporter who was released from jail last week after agreeing to testify in a case involving the leak of the name of a C.I.A. operative, returned to the newsroom yesterday declaring that she had upheld the principles she had gone to jail to protect.
“I’m sure I did many things that were not completely perfect in the eyes of either First Amendment absolutists or those who wrote every day saying ‘Testify, testify, you’re covering up for these people,’ ” Ms. Miller told a gathering of her colleagues in the newsroom. “The pressures were enormous. I did the only thing I could do. I followed my conscience, and I tried to follow the principles that I laid out at the beginning.”
“Not completely perfect”? Gee, Jude, I thought you were supposed to be “Damned right!” about everything.
Ms. Miller said she had needed an explicit waiver from her source, whom she identified publicly for the first time as I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff. At the same time, she said, she was also holding out for a pledge by the special prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, that her testimony would be limited to her conversations with Mr. Libby and would not address other sources.
Ms. Miller said Mr. Libby had not agreed to these conditions until late last month and so, contrary to what she called White House “spin,” she could not have testified a year ago or avoided jail. Mr. Libby had initially offered only a blanket waiver to reporters to testify, she said, not the personal and specific waiver he offered last week after her lawyer reopened negotiations.
Well if that’s your story dear, you stick to it. Except of course no one in Judyville ever sticks to their story. And more important, no one with an ounce of sense is buying it. And those sporting far more than the requisite ounce are making their contempt manifest on a daily basis.
Mr. Libby’s lawyer, Joseph Tate, has said Mr. Libby was prepared all along to provide a personal waiver to Ms. Miller. Mr. Tate could not be reached for comment on Monday.
Ms. Miller also turned over her notes to Mr. Fitzgerald, but she said she was allowed to redact them herself, removing irrelevant information, rather than having to submit them to a third party to redact.
And she types too! Whatagal!
“I am very, very proud to be able to say that I got things that no other journalist has ever gotten out of a process like this,” Ms. Miller told the newsroom.
It’s highly unlikly that Judy’s effort will be as memorable. Though it may — inadvertently of course — prove almost as amusing.
She said she believed that the blanket waiver Mr. Libby had offered other journalists was “a thing of the past.”
And as the Incomparable Hildegarde said, shortly before her recent passing, “Talent is a thing of the past.”
Ms. Miller was introduced by Bill Keller, the executive editor, who said the newspaper planned to publish a full account of Ms. Miller’s case. He said the article could appear as soon as this weekend.
Oh we can’t wait.
“I know that you and our readers still have a lot of questions about how this drama unfolded,” he told the staff members. He said the paper had been wary of revealing too much about the case for fear of compounding Ms. Miller’s legal problems, but added, “Now that she’s free, we intend to answer those questions to the best of our ability in a thoroughly reported piece in the pages of The New York Times, and soon. We owe it to our readers, and we owe it to you, our staff.”
And Keller owes a hat-tip to Michael Stipe:
“Life is bigger
It’s bigger than you
And you are not me
The lengths that I will go to
The distance in your eyes
Oh no I’ve said too much
I’ve said enough the corner
That’s me in the spotlight
Losing my religion
Trying to keep up with you
And I don’t know if I can do it
Oh no I’ve said too much
I haven’t said enough
I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try
Of every waking hour I’m
Choosing my confessions
Trying to keep an eye on you
Like a hurt lost and blinded fool
Oh no I’ve said too much
I’ve said enough”
In an interview after her appearance, Ms. Miller said she would cooperate with the newspaper’s reporters. She said she was uncertain whether she would write her own account, either in the newspaper or in a book. She also said she was exploring all the options, but she planned to first take some time off to urge Congress to pass a federal shield law to protect reporters with confidential sources.
Hey Judy, maybe you should get Bob Woodward — or better still, Lucy Dalglish. Lucy’s done so much free PR work for you she deserves a piece of the action.
She said she had not contemplated what it would be like to return to the paper and pick up her duties as a reporter, but added: “This is my clan, this is my tribe. I belong here.”
No dear, you belong in Baghdad. And I’m not talkin’ “Green Zone” either.
Ms. Miller returned to her desk in the newsroom for the first time since she was jailed on July 6. Bouquets of flowers surrounded her computer, which a technology assistant said was clogged with 100,000 e-mail messages.
One wonders how many of them were, uh less than cordial. The NYT hasn’t printed a single anti-Judy “Letter to the Editor” you know. Must have just forwarded them to your box.
She looked thin, and said she had lost more than 20 pounds in jail, which she called a “soulless” place. She tugged at the waist of her pants, showing that they were at least four inches too big.
It’s the Judy Diet!
In the interview, she declined to reveal what she had told the grand jury. She also said she had publicly identified Mr. Libby as her source in part because Mr. Tate, Mr. Libby’s lawyer, had told Newsweek that he doubted the credibility of one of her lawyers, Floyd Abrams. Moreover, she said, it was an open secret that Mr. Libby was her source, so there was no point in not naming him.
What “open secret”? You say — now — that Libby was the source. But there’s no more reason to believe you on that score than there was with those ever-so-famous WMD’s.
Ms. Miller said her lawyers reopened negotiations not because she wanted to leave jail, although she did, but because if Mr. Fitzgerald extended the grand jury, everyone would dig deeper into their positions and she would have a more difficult time getting what she considered a voluntary waiver from Mr. Libby.
“I was prepared to stay,” she said. “I had been in jail, and I thought maybe Scooter Libby was thinking about that and that he might be prepared to do something that, for whatever reason, he didn’t feel comfortable doing before.”
Judy had to ask “Pretty please with sugar on top and a cherry!” while standing on one foot and balancing a copy of Fear and Loathing and the Sickness Unto Death on her nose before she’d get Libby’s “waiver.”
Ms. Miller said her cooperation with the investigation, including testifying and turning over her notes, had not compromised the future ability of reporters to protect the confidentiality of their sources.
“Quite the contrary,” she said. “I set up clear standards for when I would cooperate, and they were known to everyone.”
“Standards” = When the price was right.