Daily Archives: October 21, 2005

Well events in Judyville continue at a fairly fast clip what with this gem, on view at both Romenesko and Crooks and Liars”:

A Message from Bill Keller:
As you can imagine, I’ve done a lot of thinking — and a lot of listening — on the subject of what I should have done differently in handling our reporter’s entanglement in the White House leak investigation. Jill and John and I have talked a great deal among ourselves and with many of you, and while this is a discussion that will continue, we thought it would be worth taking a first cut at the lessons we have learned. “

Like “For the love of God, don’t let that bitch back in the building!” ?

Mmmmmm, notsomuch.

“Aside from a number of occasions when I wish I had chosen my words more carefully, we’ve come up with a few points at which we wish we had made different decisions. These are instances, when viewed with the clarity of hindsight, where the mistakes carry lessons beyond the peculiar circumstances of this case. “

“Chosen my words more carefully”? You mean it was all a PR problem and you really should have hired a professional like Pat Kingsley. Right Bill?

“I wish we had dealt with the controversy over our coverage of WMD as soon as I became executive editor. At the time, we thought we had compelling reasons for kicking the issue down the road. The paper had just been through a major trauma, the Jayson Blair episode, and needed to regain its equilibrium. It felt somehow unsavory to begin a tenure by attacking our predecessors. I was trying to get my arms around a huge new job, appoint my team, get the paper fully back to normal, and I feared the WMD issue could become a crippling distraction.”

Well your arms just weren’t big enough, were they binky. As for those pesky WMDs, they were specifically pimped as a distraction for the suckers. . .er, readers. Plenty of people knew that. Arianna has quite an interesting list of them. But apparently such matters upset your “equilibrium.”

“So it was a year before we got around to really dealing with the controversy. At that point, we published a long editors’ note acknowledging the prewar journalistic lapses, and — to my mind, at least as important – – we intensified aggressive reporting aimed at exposing the way bad or manipulated intelligence had fed the drive to war. (I’m thinking of our excellent investigation of those infamous aluminum tubes, the report on how the Iraqi National Congress recruited exiles to promote Saddam’s WMD threat, our close look at the military’s war-planning intelligence! , and the dissection, one year later, of Colin Powell’s U.N. case for the war, among other examples. The fact is sometimes overlooked that a lot of the best reporting on how this intel fiasco came about appeared in the NYT.)”

The fact is some of the best reporting on this intel fiasco came for Greater Blogistan — which mocked those aluminum tubes from day one. And what “intensified agressive reporting” are you talking about? Everything the NYT publijes is a day late and a dollar short.

“By waiting a year to own up to our mistakes, we allowed the anger inside and outside the paper to fester. Worse, we fear, we fostered an impression that The Times put a higher premium on protecting its reporters than on coming clean with its readers. If we had lanced the WMD boil earlier, we might have damped any suspicion that THIS time, the paper was putting the defense of a reporter above the duty to its readers.”

But can Little Miss Run Amok truly be described as a reporter? Yes, we know that’s the role she plays for public consumption, but come on Bill — Judy’s an operative. Not the first time the NYT has harbored one either, you know. But the “Cold War” is over. Now we’re in a different world — more dangerous in some ways, much less so in others.

“I wish that when I learned Judy Miller had been subpoenaed as a witness in the leak investigation, I had sat her down for a thorough debriefing, and followed up with some reporting of my own. It is a natural and proper instinct to defend reporters when the government seeks to interfere in our work. And under other circumstances it might have been fine to entrust the details — the substance of the confidential interviews, the notes — to lawyers who would be handling the case. But in this case I missed what should have been significant alarm bells.”

Well if you sat down with Judy you’d be a real editor Bill — rather than the pathetic doormat you actually are. A real editor would know all the details of what their reporters are up to. Hell– a reall editor would have supplied more than half of them! But that’s not you, Bill.

“Until Fitzgerald came after her, I didn’t know that Judy had been one of the reporters on the receiving end of the anti-Wilson whisper campaign. I should have wondered why I was learning this from the special counsel, a year after the fact. (In November of 2003 Phil Taubman tried to ascertain whether any of our correspondents had been offered similar leaks. As we reported last Sunday, Judy seems to have misled Phil Taubman about the extent of her involvement.) This alone should have been enough to make me probe deeper.”

Jesus H. Fucking Mel Gibson on the Cross, Bill! You could have asked one of the office cleaners !! It wasn’t a state secret. Anyone following this story with so much as half a brain and one eye open knew Judy’s name was sure to be high on the list of people a competent prosecutor would want to talk to. And as we now know Fitzgerald is far above mere competent. He’s heart attack serious, and not about to take any shit from the likes of Judy. She wouldn’t talk to the grand jury? Fine. The bitch goes right to the slammer. And there she remained until she cobbled together (with your help?) a “clairification” of her “position” in that while she got a waiver from Libby last year he didn’t offer it with a “Pretty please with sugar on top and a cherry” as apparently required.

Needless to say, nobody bought it.

“In the end, I’m pretty sure I would have concluded that we had to fight this case in court. For one thing, we were facing an insidious new menace in these blanket waivers, ostensibly voluntary, that Administration officials had been compelled to sign.!”

No Bill, it’s an indisidous OLD Menace: Unnamed Sourcing.

“But if I had known the details of Judy’s entanglement with Libby, I’d have been more careful in how the paper articulated its defense, and perhaps more willing than I had been to support efforts aimed at exploring compromises.”

Compromise? With whom? Why with Judy of course. She’s in charge. She runs the NYT, doesn’t she? She doesn’t? Well that’s a surprise, cause she’s got you all by the balls the way Mercedes McCambridge had the townspeople in Johnny Guitar.

No Bill, you’re not Joan Crawford.

Dick Stevenson has expressed the larger lesson here in an e-mail that strikes me as just right: “I think there is, or should be, a contract between the paper and its reporters. The contract holds that the paper will go to the mat to back them up institutionally — but only to the degree that the reporter has lived up to his or her end of the bargain, specifically to have conducted him or herself in a way consistent with our legal, ethical and journalistic standards, to have been open and candid with the paper about sources, mistakes, conflicts and the like, and generally to deserve having the reputations of all of us put behind him or her. In that way, everybody knows going into a battle exactly what the situation is, what we’re fighting for, the degree to which the facts might counsel compromise or not, and the degree to which our collective credibility should be put on the line.”

“Going into battle” against whom? Why against the suckers of course. They must know the truth. . . as we tell it to them. Nothing else. Right Bill? Well those days are over, dear.

“I’ve heard similar sentiments from a number of reporters in the aftermath of this case.
There is another important issue surfaced by this case: how we deal with the inherent conflict of writing about ourselves. This paper (and, indeed, this business) has had way too much experience of that over the past few years. Almost everyone we’ve heard from on the staff appreciates that once we had agreed as an institution to defend Judy’s source, it would have been wrong to expose her source in the paper”

No, it would have been right. But what do you care? Not in your “job description” is it?

“Even if our reporters had learned that information through their own enterprise, our publication of it would have been seen by many readers as authoritative — as outing Judy’s source in a backhanded way. Yet it is excruciating to withhold information of value to our readers, especially when rival publications are unconstrained.”

That’s the trouble with the truth — it’s unrestrained.

I don’t yet see a clear-cut ! answer to this dilemma, but we’ve received some thoughtful suggestions from the staff, and it’s one of the problems that we’ll be wrestling with in the coming weeks.
Best, Bill

Well I see a clear-cut answer. Judy’s worthless ass gets fired. And you know what? You and Pinch are out the door too. You are so OVER.

My thoughts turn to Lisa Kirk.

Well actually my thoughts invariably turn to Lisa Kirk. But in this particular context a “Bill” is involved — the one she sang to in Kiss Me Kate (played by musical comedy’s most talented Total Slut, Harold Lang) Remember?

“Oh Bill–
Why can’t you behave?
Oh, why can’t you behave?
After all the things you told me,
And the promises that you gave,
Oh, why can’t you behave?

Why can’t you be good?
And do just as you should?
Won’t you turn that new leaf over,
So your baby can be your slave?
Oh, why can’t you behave?

There’s a farm I know near my old home town,
Where we two can go and try settling down.
There I’ll care for you forever,
‘Cause you’re all in the world I crave.
But why can’t you behave?

There’s a farm I know near my old home town,
Where we two can go and try settling down.
There I’ll care for you forever,
‘Cause you’re all in the world I crave.
But why can’t you, oh why can’t you,
Oh why can’t you behave?”

Why indeed.