Judy Miller just admitted her deliberately deceptive role in the White House smear campaign against Joe Wilson.
Her New York Times “personal account” explains that her articles usually referred to Libby as a “senior administration official,” since it’s the truth. But when Libby gave her information about Wilson, the truth wouldn’t cut it.
So at Libby’s request, she agreed to deliberately deceive her readers by describing him as a “former Hill staffer.” The scheme was absurdly misleading, as Arianna explained. It helped Libby trash Wilson without implicating the White House. In Miller’s words, “Mr. Libby did not want the White House to be seen as attacking Mr. Wilson.”
This misleading sourcing violates the New York Times official guidelines, a key fact the Times article ignored. The newspaper requires reporters explain anonymous sourcing arrangements without being “coy,” and “especially when we can shed light on the source’s reasons” (emphasis added). Can you imagine how that might read?
“A former Hill staffer, who insisted on anonymity because he did not want attacks to be heard from the White House, where he currently works, said that Ambassador Wilson has credibility issues.”
Of course, Miller’s misleading sourcing was not just an office violation. It leveraged the credibility of the New York Times to advance the White House’s smear campaign to anonymously trash Joe Wilson for exposing the Bush Administration’s prewar lies.
In the same personal account, Miller bizarrely claims that after the CIA agent was outed, she asked her editor about writing an article “to pursue the possibility that the White House was unfairly attacking a critic of the administration.” Miller does not say whether she told her editor she had proof that “possibility” was a fact. She does not say whether she admitted that she was a deliberate accomplice in Libby’s scheme to hide that very White House attack. And she does not say whether she volunteered her notebooks with references to Wilson’s wife from Libby (and supposedly one other forgotten source). So according to her story, Miller wanted to be part of the cover-up and the investigation. It just does not add up.
Maybe that’s why Jill Abramson, the Times Washington Bureau Chief during that period, implied that Miller is simply lying. Abramson told the Times that Miller never made any recommendation about such an article. Judy Miller obviously has a lot more explaining to do to her editors. It’s past time for the whole story, and they’re not going to wait for her book.
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