You’d think Judith Miller -- the disgraced New York Times reporter who helped rally the country into a $2 trillion, 10-year war -- would do us a favor and slink into obscurity. Alas, Miller is hawking a new book, and using the opportunity to try to salvage her reputation. On Wednesday night, she stopped by "The Daily Show," where Jon Stewart gave her the sort of grilling she should be receiving on the mainstream news circuit.
“I believe that you helped the administration take us to, like, the most devastating mistake in foreign policy that we’ve made in, like, 100 years,” Stewart began. “But you seem lovely.”
In the adversarial interview, the former Times reporter shirked responsibility for her role in leading the country into war, saying that all journalists had been misled by the intelligence on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Her sources in the intelligence community, Miller said, had always been right in the past.
“That’s why I wrote the book. I hoped that people like you would read it and determine that it was really, really hard to do this kind of reporting,” said Miller, whose book, The Story: A Reporter’s Journey, was released earlier this month.
“I wasn’t alone, I had lots and lots of company," Miller added. “The intelligence sources we were talking to had never been wrong before.”
Miller denied that either Dick Cheney or George W. Bush were the sole sources for the claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. “The information came from the men and women who had steered me right on Al Qaeda and 9/11, who had told me that the former Soviet Union had a huge cache of biological weapons,” she said.
Among the highlights of the interview, Stewart cornered Miller over whether she had been used by the Bush administration to create a pretext for going to war:
Miller: It took persuading, and they persuaded a lot of Democrats -- Hillary Clinton, John Kerry. The intelligence was what it was.
Stewart: Turns out, idiocy is bipartisan, but that’s not exculpatory that it captured Democrats and Republicans.
Miller: The intelligence was what it was. People like me didn’t make it up.
Stewart: No but the intelligence was not what it was and not everyone got it wrong
Miller: Almost everybody did …
Stewart: Somebody pointed the light at Iraq and that somebody is the White House and the Defense Department and [Donald] Rumsfeld. He said, right after 9/11, “find me a pretext to go to war with Iraq.”
The Daily Show host later asked Miller point-blank whether she had been manipulated.
“All journalists are manipulated and all politicians lie -- they all try and spin,” Miller responded.
Stewart rounded out the exchange by lamenting the finger-pointing.
“These discussions always make me incredibly sad because they point to institutional failure at the highest levels and no one will take responsibility for them,” he said.
Watch the full interview (in two parts):
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