THE BLOG

Judith Miller - the Patron Saint of Propaganda

07/07/2005 12:47 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Pardon me while I intrude on the whorish theater of martyrdom now assigned to the likes of Judith Miller. The same Judith Miller who is going to jail to protect whom? Sources such as Chalabi? He is after all one of her sources and has been one for her false reporting regarding WMD.

Yet many talking TV journo-some-things are arguing that it is the principle of a “free press” that is at stake here, not who the source is.

I agree that the principle of a free press is more important than any one journalist or source, but I do not agree that this principle applies to Judith Miller, who unconscionably helped lie a country into war and in doing so relinquished any right or privilege she had as a journalist.

Yes, privileged rights do have responsibilities. Or has everyone forgotten that part of the equation? Since when have fabricated fables based on sources that are questionable at best, qualified as journalism?

When have propaganda and lies, resulting in the deaths of thousands of American troops and god knows how many Iraqis, qualified as anything other than Hearst’s Spanish-American war redux?

While everyone is busy squealing themselves hoarse for Congress to pass a law protecting journalists and their sources, no one is demanding that Congress pass a law protecting citizens from propaganda masquerading as fact and news. This entire farce is loathsome and frankly quite sad.

Unlike elected officials, who can be impeached or simply voted out of office, journalists are largely free to serve as unelected representatives of the people, whereby they act as the filter through which lies are expelled and truth is delivered without bias.

That is a privileged role and it deserves the privileged status of being unhindered and free as part of the quest for truth.

Yet the role of a journalist, because of its very influence and authority, demands serious adherence to the considerable responsibility required of it.

If Dan Rather can be shuffled out of his distinguished career because of a fabricated memo (though one whose content was factual), again leaked by some magical “just-in- time” source, then how has Judith Miller been allowed to continue reporting lies about Iraq’s WMD myth- almost cheerleading those lies -completely unchecked?

Miller is not remotely honorable or honest precisely because she was part and parcel of the “fixing” of “intelligence” so that a post 9/11 nation could be hijacked into a massacre on both sides of the ocean.

She may have not written the Plame story, but she wrote the Iraq lies, and in doing so she made herself visible as a tool of a corrupt administration, which she now protects by invoking the rights she abused so shamelessly. The rights that honorable journalists, like Gary Webb, respected.

Protecting sources is not the same thing as protecting criminals working against the public interest. Or is the public interest no longer part of the equation either?

So as I watch the Stepford journalists spin a yarn of a press under siege, I wonder where this freedom loving bunch were when those sixteen words started a flame that ignited a catastrophic fire?

Where were you?

I wonder why the lock and load position, multi-channel attack on Newsweek so quickly took effect when Isikoff accurately reported Koran abuse allegations at Gitmo. Remember the “the loss of life” blame game and the criticism of Newsweek’s “negligent” reporting? Remember too that what Newsweek was reporting was factual with regard to abuse allegations!

Where were you?

Yet the very same mainstream juggernaut with its opaque babble and misinformation does not lift a word, not even a vowel in protest of the many lives lost thanks to the propaganda of Judith Miller.

Where were you?

There are many reporters with whom I disagree on many topics and many styles of reporting. But if they are responsible to their privileged position in our society -- their privileged role in representing the interests of the nation and its people -- if they are honorable and if their goal is truth, then I will always defend them. I will defend the principle of a free press and of freedom of speech always.

I cannot, however, defend a mainstream so lazy and bloated with indifference that it cannot see beyond its own specific interests to step up and defend the principle in which both the freedom and the responsibility of that freedom are on equal footing.

Not all journalists are ethical and not all sources are ethical. Do we even need to imagine the astounding power a government could wield if it used journalists to disguise its criminal actions? Do we need to even look beyond our current reality to see what happens when the fourth estate merges with the Executive Branch and in which the fourth estate becomes the weapon against the best interests of the people?

Look around and tell me how an entire country was led to believe that Iraq had WMD and that Al Qaeda was working with Saddam when all fact and all experts pointed the other way.