The Aspen trees are rustling in D.C. Judy Miller, the only person to go to jail so far in L'Affaire Plame, took the stand today. A few bon mots caught my attention.
The first came when she was listing the various titles she'd held at the New York Times since starting work there in 1977. There was SEC reporter, Cairo bureau chief, Paris correspondent, deputy media editor, "special correspondent" for the first Gulf War, and then, her last, "free ranging investigative reporter."
How nice that the "free range" trend has expanded from the supermarket aisles to the Times' newsroom. No longer should reporters be hemmed in and confined by truth and reality. Now they can roam all over the rhetorical field. Maybe Miller can take it one step further and her next project can be an "All Organic Free Range Reporting" fellowship.
Objection! Relevancy, your honor.
Sustained. Sorry for the digression -- back to the testimony.
There was also the recounting of Miller's first contact with Libby. It seems Libby had provided "helpful" information to one of her co-authors on Germs, Miller's 2001 book on bioweapons, and was a bit cheesed that he hadn't gotten an inscribed copy, as had others who'd helped out. But unwilling to let this slight slight get in the way of a useful relationship, Libby told Miller that he "liked" her reporting about WMD and she, in turn, said that she'd like to interview him on a regular basis.
Of course he had liked it. What's the point of selling out your credibility if you're not going to curry favor with anybody?
Miller later detailed her note-taking techniques. Aspiring journos take note: Miller uses a steno book, writing down what her subject says and underlining important points or topics as she goes. When her notebook is full, she does an index on the front page noting the timing and subject matter of the interview. If she highlights anything or makes any changes, she likes to use a different pen or pencil so she can tell which notations are contemporaneous and which are after-the-fact. Asked by Patrick Fitzgerald what she does if an interviewee changes topics, Miller replied: "I draw a line." Supply your own punchline.
Then there was Judy's shocked -- shocked! -- reaction to the fact that while she was in Iraq after the fall of Baghdad an angry debate was going on back in the States over the White House (and the press) lying about WMD.
Who was the anger directed at?, Fitzgerald asked. At the administration, the media and even at me, Judy replied.
A little later, Judy repeated her claim that the New York Times wasn't interested in the Plame story. Assistant Managing Editor Jill Abramson has already contradicted this, saying that Miller never pitched the story.
In any case, the Times is plenty interested now. Stay tuned....