Justice and Judy  | American Journalism Review
 AJR  Letters
From AJR,   December/January 2006

Justice and Judy   

Judy Miller doesn't make a very good poster child for the reporter's right to keep confidential sources secret ("Uncharted Terrain," October/November and "In Praise of Judith Miller," Web special).

First, it seems clear that her source was using her to spread disinformation, possibly in support of a criminal activity (obstruction of justice). A source can't very well expect secrecy if they're using it to commit crimes.

Second, Miller has a conflict of interest. The information in question was being shopped around to attack the credibility of Joseph Wilson. Wilson was attacking the credibility of those who claimed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. And who was the prime journalist purveyor of those claims? Judy Miller. If you look at it that way, she was helping smear a whistle-blower who was blowing the whistle on her own bogus reporting.

Third, the subpoena was not a random fishing expedition. Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald wanted to know what went on at a meeting "between Judith Miller and a government official whom she met in Washington D.C. on July 8, 2003, concerning Valerie Plame Wilson." That sounds pretty well focused to me.

On the one hand it's possible to view Miller as a noble martyr of press freedom. On the other hand, it's easier to see her as someone who's trying to cover her own ineptitude by colluding with corrupt officials in the obstruction of justice. If the latter view is more accurate, then Miller is doing great damage to her profession. By going along with her your journal may be compounding the damage.

You are arguing the principle and the law, without first making sure of the facts.

Stephen Olson
Village Soup Citizen
Belfast, Maine