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The Judy File: Is Miller Getting Ready to Sing?


This just in: Judy Miller's principled, absolute stand is crumbling.

Buried in the middle of this afternoon's Reuters story on Miller, her lawyer, Floyd Abrams, offers up a bombshell: Miller is looking for an out.

When asked if talks were under way to secure Miller's testimony and release, Abrams replies: "If there are any discussions, they would be private." This after earlier insisting that Miller remained "resolute" about not revealing her confidential source.

If she is so "resolute" why get all cutesy about it? Why not just say, "No, she's not talking. And that's final"?

Well, according to a source with inside knowledge, it's because there are definitely negotiations under way. "Reuters buried the lede," said my source. "But it's there if you read between the lines... Abrams says that Miller 'made a promise and, unless properly released from her promise by her source, she has no choice but to continue to take the position that she's taking.' He's giving her more outs than an extra-inning baseball game. 'Unless properly released from her promise...' In other words, she's bargaining. All this time she's theoretically been standing on principle, and now she's come down from her principled perch and is bargaining."

The question is, if what Miller wanted was to be "properly released" by her source why didn't she properly ask for it? If all she was waiting for was a more "proper" waiver, why is it okay to ask for one now but not to have asked for one two months ago?

"I think," said the source, "Judy doesn't want to spend even more time in jail -- which could happen if Fitzgerald decided to press criminal contempt charges."

So is the image of Judy as a principled, absolutist, conscience-driven defender of the First Amendment about to give way to an image of Judy wearing her new waiver as a fig leaf allowing her to get out and sing?

This is a far cry from the heroic picture the Times editorial page has painted in a series of increasingly over-the-top "Free Judy" editorials that compared Miller to Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King and claimed "if Judith Miller loses this fight, we all lose."

So what changed? According to the source, "the Times has been receiving additional legal advice very different from what Floyd Abrams has been peddling. Something a lot more realistic."

Given these developments, I can't wait to read the next Times Judy editorial. What's the headline going to be? "She cut a good deal!"

And I can't wait to watch Floyd Abrams on Lou Dobbs again: "This is a victory for more sufficient waivers everywhere!"