Judith Miller Cops A Plea: I Took America To War In Iraq

In the months leading up to the invasion of Iraq, a country that was falsely accused by the administration of George W. Bush of harboring weapons of mass destruction, the media was nearly lock-step in agreement with the charges and the conclusion that war was an appropriate response. But after the stories began to fall apart and the reality that Bush and his cabal of neocons had deliberately misled the American people, some of the pundits and politicians who had been cheerleaders for the toppling of Saddam Hussein tried to backtrack and worse, to rewrite history.

Judith Miller

No one in the press was more responsible for peddling the lies of the Bush warhawks than Judith Miller of the New York Times. She had published numerous articles condemning Saddam and taking it on faith that he was guilty of everything that the administration had alleged. Her sources were insiders who had vested interests in planting their propaganda in the media. She eagerly participated in the deception and was used later by her sources as evidence of their claims. In short, they anonymously gave her false information which she published in the Times, and then they went on Meet the Press and cited her articles as proof that they were right.

Miller’s role in advocating for war and serving as a vessel for the administration’s lies eventually led to her dismissal from the Times and disgrace as as a reporter whose credibility and ethics were fatally flawed. So naturally, she was hired by Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News.

Now it’s Miller’s turn to rewrite history. This week she wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal (also owned by Murdoch) that, on the surface, appears to be a mea culpa. It begins with her saying that “I took America to war in Iraq. It was all me.” Unfortunately, the article is a mix of facetiousness and a pleading to a lesser crime. As an example of the former, the first full paragraph reads…

“OK, I had some help from a duplicitous vice president, Dick Cheney. Then there was George W. Bush, a gullible president who could barely locate Iraq on a map and who wanted to avenge his father and enrich his friends in the oil business. And don’t forget the neoconservatives in the White House and the Pentagon who fed cherry-picked intelligence about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, or WMD, to reporters like me.”

That would be a stunningly candid statement of the truth and a remarkable admission of responsibility, except for the fact that she didn’t mean a word of it. The very next paragraph casts it aside as a “false narrative” as she writes “None of these assertions happens to be true.” And throughout the remainder of the article Miller dismisses her role in selling the war to a skeptical American public.

Miller insists that the “pernicious accusation that the Bush administration fabricated WMD intelligence to take the country to war,” was wrong. However, she offers no support for that assertion. She exonerates the Bush administration by claiming that they were merely mistaken, not lying. It’s a defense that attempts to confess to the crime of stupidity in order to avoid being convicted of dishonesty. And Miller is making the same sort of plea bargain for herself in confessing to having been misled by the administration, rather than to conspiring with them.

The problem for Miller is that there is already too much evidence of her complicity to deny her role. Her articles were nearly verbatim transcriptions of administration talking points. She claims to not have been “spoon-fed” lines about WMDs by senior officials. Does she regard Scooter Libby, the chief of staff to Vice-President Dick Cheney as a senior official? She doesn’t say. In fact, she famously refused to identify any of her sources so that people could decide for themselves if they were credible.

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Miller spent some time in jail for contempt of court when she declined to reveal her sources. Her defenders regard that as a noble sacrifice, but there is a difference between protecting your sources and protecting your accomplices. Miller knew very well that her sources were relying on the information they fed her when they cited it in subsequent interviews, but she never seemed the least bit disturbed at having been used for that purpose. That’s because she wasn’t being used, she was participating. And nothing in her self-serving defense in the Wall Street Journal leads to any other conclusion.

So why would she bring up this stain on her reputation after all these years? The answer appears in italics at the bottom of the article: “Ms. Miller’s new book, ‘The Story: A Reporter’s Journey,’ will be published on April 7.”

Fox News Dementia: Media Is Not As Hard On Obama/Syria As They Were On Bush/Iraq

On Fox News this morning there was a segment debating the media coverage of the “Crisis in Syria” (video below). On any other network this would have been a legitimate subject for debate and a fascinating topic. But leave it to Fox News to broadcast a version of history that makes Snow White’s adventures with seven diminutive forest dwellers look like a PBS documentary.

Fox’s Martha MacCallum opened the segment with a declarative motion for which she provided no factual basis: “Critics are suggesting that the media is not nearly as hard on President Obama about the potential of going into Syria, as they were on President Bush and his war that he fought in Iraq.” The reliance on a ghostly assemblage of unnamed critics is a variant of the “some say” tactic of inventing a premise with which a lazy commentator can project a dishonest argument. But it was just the lead-in that conservative guest Monica Crowley required to say this:

“Most of the media were very skeptical about any kind of military intervention in Iraq. They raised a lot of very legitimate questions. They also pounded President Bush and his team relentlessly in the run-up, during the war and of course even still to this day over that war. […] It was just the fact that it was President Bush prosecuting this war. When you look at the difference between that coverage and the coverage of President Obama…in this run-up to a possible action in Syria, it’s like night and day.”

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Indeed, it is like night and day. But not in any way meant by Crowley. Prior to the Iraq war, the media was in virtual unanimity with respect to supporting Bush and his fraudulent escapade. Even the factions of the media that are most often regard as liberal enclaves were banging the drums of war.

Recall that it was the New York Times that employed Judith Miller (now with Fox News) who was instrumental in providing cover for the Bush administration’s pro-war agenda. She was a trusty vessel for the dissemination of propaganda from Bush’s war hawks. She was the reporter most responsible for validating false intelligence on Saddam Hussein’s weapons capabilities and ambitions.

If you watched MSNBC at the time, you might recall that the top rated program was hosted by talk show legend Phil Donahue. He was a prominent skeptic of the looming U.S. invasion of Iraq. Consequently, the management of MSNBC viewed him as a “difficult public face for NBC in a time of war.” His show was canceled in February of 2003, shortly before the invasion.

The media presentation of dissent was nearly non-existent. Despite the fact that millions of Americans took to the streets to protest the war, the media declined to cover the demonstrations. Contrast that with the way they slobbered over a few malcontents in a tiny and unpopular political sect known as the Tea Party, and a handful of their hollering rubes at town hall meetings ranting about their opposition to health care.

The characterization of the media as going soft on Obama with regard to Syria is also delusional in the extreme. As expected, Fox News has been harshly critical of Obama no matter what he does. Last week they hammered him for taking a unilateral stance and failing to consult Congress on a possible reprisal for Syria’s chemical weapons deployment. This week they are bashing him for wasting time with congressional consultations and weakening the presidency by seeking them. What’s more, Obama has come in for criticism by pundits on the left like Rachel Maddow and Thom Hartmann and even Jon Stewart.

The right-wing directive to refrain from criticizing a president during international hostilities is apparently only in effect when a Republican is in the White House. Critics of Bush were often called traitors when they expressed their opposition to his policies. But outraged Tea-publicans are now encouraged to disparage the Commander-in-Chief in the most vile terms. Today it is the President who is called a traitor by right-wing protesters who fancy themselves as patriots.

In light of these facts, it is incomprehensible how Crowley can take to the Fox News channel and offer a twisted version of history wherein Obama is getting a pass and Bush suffered outrageous slings and arrows. And what is even more disturbing is that so many Fox News viewers are too dimwitted to separate the Fox fallacy from reality.

The First Refuge of Scoundrels: How Fox News Recruits From Reporting’s Worst Rejects

Journalism is a competitive field and the best and the brightest are highly valued assets by reputable news enterprises. And then there’s Fox News.

Tucker Carlson

No other “news” organization so aggressively hires the refuse cast off from other media employers. It must be a great comfort for wayward reporters and pundits to know that if they should violate the standards of ethics and/or decency demanded of them, they will always have somewhere to turn for sympathy and a fat paycheck, not to mention an undiscriminating audience.

For so many fallen television personalities, Fox News has been a support system that promises them a steady career path and a future that, in the past, would have meant well-deserved humiliation and disgrace. For these folks Fox was their white knight who stepped forward to whitewash their professional sins.

Pat Buchanan: The author of notoriously bigoted books like “State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America,” Buchanan was released from his contract with MSNBC after he wrote that as a result of “the rise to power of an Obama rainbow coalition of peoples of color […] whites may discover what it is like to ride in the back of the bus.” He then complained that he was a victim of blacklisting by a coalition of blacks, gays, and Jews, before being swept up by Fox.

Juan Williams: A veteran correspondent for National Public Radio, Williams went astray when he confessed that “when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.” Williams failed to see the inherent racism in his commentary and refused to apologize. Shortly after NPR relieved him of his duties there, Fox signed him to a new multimillion dollar contract.

Judith Miller: In the lead-up to George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq, New York Times reporter Judith Miller coordinated with the administration to make the case for war. Her articles gave credibility to fabricated allegations that Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction. Eventually her distortions were revealed and the Times sent her packing. And where else but Fox would have welcomed her with such open arms?

Erick Erickson: Following the election in November of 2012, many news outlets resolved to reexamine their operations and staff. At CNN they concluded that there was no longer a place for an ultra-conservative blogger who once called Supreme Court Justice David Souter a “goat-fucking child-molester.” Fox was also undergoing a self-examination and decided that Erickson was just what they were looking for.

Rick Sanchez: Not satisfied with calling Jon Stewart a bigot in a radio interview, Sanchez elaborated by falling back on the well-worn anti-Semitic theme of Jews controlling the media. “[E]verybody who runs CNN is a lot like Stewart,” Sanchez said, “and a lot of people who run all the other networks are a lot like Stewart, and to imply that somehow they – the people in this country who are Jewish – are an oppressed minority? Yeah.” Today Sanchez is a correspondent with Fox News Latino and MundoFox. Ironically, Sanchez once castigated Latinos who worked for Fox as “sell-outs,” and Fox responded by saying that “Everyone knows that Rick is an industry joke, he shows that he’s a hack everyday. And he doesn’t have to worry about working at FOX because we only hire talent who have the ability to generate ratings.”

Mark Fuhrman: A regular crime analyst on Fox, Fuhrman may be better known as the disgraced former Los Angeles police officer who upended the O.J. Simpson trial by falsely testifying that he had never used racist epithets. That sort of behavior, however, is not a problem for the editorial bosses at Fox.

Doug McKelway: A familiar face in Washington, D.C., McKelway anchored a local news broadcast until he drew complaints for having told a gay activist he was interviewing that he wanted to take him outside and punch him in the face. That episode capped a rocky tenure during which he often fought with producers over his perception that the station’s broadcasts were too liberal. He doesn’t have that problem anymore now that he is a correspondent at Fox.

Lou Dobbs: This long-time CNN anchor was ostensibly CNN’s financial expert. Somewhere along the way he assumed the role of an immigrant basher and a proponent of the racist notion that all terrorists are Muslim. And to sweeten the pot, Dobbs joined the Birther Brigade by repeatedly demanding that President Obama produce his “real” birth certificate. In retrospect, it seems like Dobbs was positioning himself for future work at Fox News.

Oliver North: Here’s an oldie but a goodie. Col. North was convicted of lying to congress about President Reagan’s arms-for-hostages affair. While the conviction was later overturned by an appellate court that ruled that North’s testimony had been immunized, the underlying facts were not in question. North’s confession to a host of illegal acts was not a hindrance to his becoming a host on Fox News.

Don Imus: What can be said about the guy who was fired for calling a group of women on a college basketball team “nappy-headed hos?” Fox calls him the anchor of the morning block on their financial network.

Tucker Carlson: Perhaps the poster child for Fox’s Disgraced Reporter Rescue Program is Tucker Carlson, who has managed to fail on CNN, PBS, and MSNBC before receiving salvation from Fox. And like Sanchez, Carlson once held Fox in low esteem calling them “a mean, sick group of people,” after they published his home phone number on the Fox web site. But when Carlson was jettisoned from MSNBC he worked his way back into the good graces of Fox as the editor of The Daily Caller blog, then as a Fox contributor, and now the co-host of the weekend edition of Fox & Friends.

This pattern of staff development by Fox relies heavily on applicants (or, in the case of Sanchez and Carlson, supplicants) with proven histories of impropriety. They seem to regard the discards of other networks as their richest vein of new talent. And if the prospect has any lingering felonies on their rap sheet, all the better. The frequency with which Fox acquires ethically-challenged employees belies any suggestion that it is mere coincidence. They are clearly drawn to the reportorial riffraff and regard moral defects as badges of honor.

Consequently, if anyone is interested in handicapping the next batch of Fox contributors, just check to see who has been recently terminated at some other news outlet or paroled from prison. And if their offense involved an injury to a liberal policy or person, double down, you’ve got a sure thing.

Attorney General Nominee Eric Holder On The Media

President-elect Barack Obama’s nominee for Attorney General, Eric Holder, appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week and was asked briefly about a couple of issues related to the media. First, on the Fairness Doctrine:

Sen. Arlen Specter: Mr. Holder, there had been suggestions for a revival of the so-called Fairness Doctrine, and my question to you is do you think that as a matter of public policy, the so-called Fairness Doctrine ought to be reinstated?

Eric Holder: Senator, that’s a toughie I’ve not given an awful lot of thought to. If I could perhaps submit an answer to you in writing, I would have an opportunity to think about that. I wouldn’t want to commit myself to something and not give you the benefit of what is my best thinking on that.

Of course, Specter doesn’t specify who made these mysterious “suggestions for a revival” because the only ones to have done so are delusional Republicans. Holder’s answer, while vague, is evidence in itself that Democrats are not pursuing the matter. If they were, he would not have needed an opportunity to think about it. On the following question about a shield law for reporters, Holder was more specific.

Specter: Senator Leahy asked you about reporters’ shield. You said you’d be willing to consider it. We had a reporter held in jail for 85 days on the allegation that a source was not disclosed. At all times the special prosecutor in the case knew where the leak came from. I would appreciate it if you would be a little more definitive with your response. I don’t want to protract the discussion now.

Holder: Well, maybe, let me just say this, Senator. Maybe I wasn’t as clear as I could have been. I actually favor such a measure. All I was saying was that I’d want to work on what it actually looks like.

There’s a piece of legislation, I understand, there are going to be concerns, I can tell you I’m sure within the department. I want to work with you on that. But my position is that I think something can be crafted to deal with the issues that you have raised and the concerns I know I’m going to hear at the Justice Department. But I am in favor of the shield though.

Specter: Well, the critical question is a national security issue, right? If you would take a look at that and give me, us, your judgment, I’d appreciate it.

A national security issue? I can’t imagine to what he is referring that impacts national security. The underlying content of a specific story wherein the reporter’s shield is at issue could involve national security, but the shield itself is strictly a First Amendment concern.

The jailed reporter he referenced above was Judith Miller of the New York Times, who participated in the outing of former CIA operative, Valerie Plame. Holder took exactly the right position in declaring his support for the concept of a shield law, but retaining the ability to assess the legislation when the details are known. It would be irresponsible to make a blanket statement of support when the bill that eventually is drafted could contain language that would apply to someone like Miller who was not protecting a source so much as she was concealing an accomplice.

For bonus points, Holder spoke (pdf) at an event for the American Constitution Society in 2004, where he demonstrated his grasp of the media environment:

“With the mainstream media somewhat cowered by conservative critics, and the conservative media disseminating the news in anything but a fair and balanced manner, and you know what I mean there, the means to reach the greatest number of people is not easily accessible.”

Yes, I know what you mean. Good call, Mr. Holder.

O’Reilly, Hannity, And Beck: What Recession?

The economy continues to spiral downward in the U.S. and the world. Nearly a million Americans have lost their jobs just this year. Trillions of dollars in value have been lost in retirement and pension funds. Home foreclosures long ago surpassed all-time highs. Close to 50 million Americans have no health insurance. But why focus on the negative?

In some quarters there is good news and unreserved celebration. That’s because there is an unshakable bull market in Fox News Pundits (Or should I say bullshit market?). In just the past few weeks Bill O’Reilly signed a four year contract extension for more than $10 million annually. Sean Hannity re-signed a multimillion dollar per year contract for TV, plus another $20 million for his radio show. Glenn Beck will receive millions more for his new Fox hackfest. Neil Cavuto’s income leapt when he was promoted to managing editor of the Fox Business Network (the “Business-Friendly Business Network”) In addition, Mike Huckabee, Judith Miller, and Karl Rove, were all hired on as Fox contributors within the last year.

So when you hear the elitists at Fox dismiss the severity of this downturn, when you hear them say that things aren’t really so bad, remember that what they are really saying is that things aren’t really so bad for them. It’s easy for them to be stoic in the face of adversity when they are raking in more millions every year. Their mansions and limos and vacation villas are as glamorous as ever.

They have absolutely no sense of the loss or pain or sacrifice that the rest of us are suffering through. And yet they will continue to pretend to speak for us. They will push their phony arguments as fighting for the average Joe (Six-pack, Plumber, Blow, or whatever). They will soft-peddle the crisis and project blame on the lazy, and the irresponsible and, of course, on Barack Obama. Just minutes ago Cavuto did just that, saying that the markets were reacting to Obama’s comments on “spreading the wealth.” For confirmation, Cavuto then turned to well known financial experts Joe the Plumber and Ted Nugent. Seriously!?! That’s the sort of ludicrous financial analysis you can expect from Fox.

For the record, a little over a year ago Cavuto, disputed reports of the economy’s weakness saying that he “[didn’t] believe a word of it.” Bill O’Reilly, recently asserted that the market was tanking because traders were pricing in a presumed Obama victory in November. He also foolishly claims that the drop in the stock prices of GE and the New York Times affirms his positions opposing them. But the stock of Fox News’ parent company, News Corp., has fallen even farther than either of them, so whatever O’Reilly thinks is wrong with GE and the Times, it is even more wrong at Fox. Here’s the real reason for the market’s decline.

In the end, these disingenuous con men have no frame of reference for what ordinary Americans are experiencing. They only have their comforting wealth and their rightist agenda that is focused exclusively on enriching themselves and their friends. And anyone who believes that these impostors are advocating on their behalf is terminally naive.

Fox News Hires Disgraced Journalist Judith Miller

In an effort to further make a mockery of the phrase “fair and balanced,” Fox News has announced that former New York Times reporter Judith Miller has been hired as a commentator for the cable propaganda network. Coming on the heels of last week’s announcement that imbecilic blabber Glenn Beck will be getting his own show on Fox News, Miller should feel right at home, along with Mike Huckabee, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, and her very own White House source, Karl Rove.

Miller is best known for spending 85 days in jail for protecting Rove and Scooter Libby, who had conspired with her to slander Valerie Plame. Plame was the wife of Ambassador Joe Wilson who had revealed the lies that the Bush administration was peddling with regard to Saddam Hussein’s alleged aspirations for weapons of mass destruction. Miller and her cohorts outed Plame as a covert intelligence operative with the CIA, ending her career as well as her important work gathering intelligence about Iran’s nuclear activities.

Miller is also the author of some of the most distorted propaganda in support of the Bush administration’s intention to invade Iraq. She operated as a functionary of the White House, retelling their lies on the pages of the New York Times so that they could cite her stories as proof of the need to initiate a preemptive war of aggression. After the fact, the Times’ editor was forced to apologize for the journalistic sloppiness and deceit of Miller and her colleagues:

“Editors at several levels who should have been challenging reporters and pressing for more skepticism were perhaps too intent on rushing scoops into the paper…while follow-up articles that called the original ones into question were sometimes buried. In some cases, there was no follow-up at all.”

Miller left the Times in disgrace and later joined the conservative Manhattan Institute. Now she will expand her reach to viewers of Fox News, who will likely appreciate her right-skewed world view. And Fox gets another mouthpice to further its propaganda assault on America and the world.

When A Confidential Source Is A Partner In Crime

When Judith Miller of the New York Times and Time Magazine’s Matt Cooper faced imprisonment for not revealing Karl Rove as the source for reporting that Valerie Plame Wilson was a covert agent with the CIA, many observers, including me, objected to their perverse interpretation of what constitutes a “confidential source.”

“Reporters do need to be able to protect their sources without fear of legal consequences when engaged in the conduct of their profession as journalists, but not when they are acting on behalf of government hitmen and promoting propaganda. That’s not protecting your sources, that’s protecting your accomplices.”

Now that it is old news that Rove leaked classified information, Time’s former editor in chief, Norman Pearlstine is coming clean:

“Outing Valerie Plame, exposing a valuable (CIA) agent for no particular reason, didn’t, in my mind, merit protecting confidentiality,”

Thanks Norm. It only took you two years to realize that reporters who act as conduits for political operatives who are engaging in smear campaigns may not extend confidentiality to their comrades.

Judy Miller Regrets 9/11 Story She Didn’t Write

In the summer of 2001, New York Times reporter Judith Miller was investigating the aftermath of the bombing the U.S.S. Cole. She had early information that Al Qaeda was involved and sought to find out more about the connection. In the course of the investigation, a source revealed to her that Al Qaeda operatives were planning something even bigger.

She didn’t write the story and the Times didn’t publish any mention of it.

After the attacks on 9/11, Miller knew what she had uncovered months earlier. In an interview with Alternet, she says that, after the second plane hit the Towers, she cried out, “It’s Al Qaeda!.”

Miller and the Times had their reasons for not publishing a story that they deemed incomplete. There were many details that Miller was unable to ascertain or confirm. But the story tells us much about where the intelligence community stood in the months preceeding 9/11.

Miller’s source, whom she describes as impeccable, told her of a conversation between two Al Qaeda operatives that was intercepted by, she assumed, the National Security Agency. The operatives were discussing the Cole bombing and that…

“they had been talking to one another, supposedly expressing disappointment that the United States had not chosen to retaliate more seriously against what had happened to the Cole. And one Al Qaida operative was overheard saying to the other, ‘Don’t worry; we’re planning something so big now that the U.S. will have to respond.'”

These recollections from Miller tell us three extraordinary things.

What we knew.
The U. S. intelligence community knew more about the impending threat of Al Qaeda than they are presently acknowledging. Miller describes a tense environment in Washington with nervous agents waiting for the next shoe to drop.

What Al Qaeda wants.
The stirring revelation that Al Qaeda was disappointed by our lack of response illustrates that what Al Qaeda has been interested in all along was provoking us into a larger conflict. Their hopes were dashed by the Clinton administration but were finally realized when Bush came to power. Bush, in effect, gave them what they wanted: respect, publicity, recruitment posters and coronation as the pre-eminent defender of Islam.

What the media does, and doesn’t tell us.
Despite some holes in the story, the information that Miller had from trusted sources was significant enough to publish. The public exposition of the facts that were available could have led to further investigations and sources that might have filled in the gaps.

It is an act of indescribable irresponsibility to have withheld this story. What was going through the minds of the editors at the Times? Did they think that an intercepted conversation between the perpetrators of the Cole bombing, wherein they revealed plans for an even bigger plot, was not newsworthy? And what exactly did the NSA do with the intelligence gleaned from these intercepts?

So many questions. So many lives lost. If only people would do their jobs. It really doesn’t amount to much more than that. But at least Miller is regretful.

New York Times On It’s Plamegate Reporter: Judy Who?

After months of silence, The New York Times has finally published an article about their reporter who spent nearly three months in jail for refusing to testify before a grand jury. Judith Miller claims she was protecting a confidential source and defending the principle of freedom of the press. In fact she was protecting herself and her complicity in an administration smear campaign. The Times, to it’s credit, at least acknowledged that that position existed saying, “Critics said The Times was protecting not a whistle-blower but an administration campaign intended to squelch dissent.” And then they ran as far away from her as they could get.

We had no idea…
“Mr. Sulzberger and the paper’s executive editor, Bill Keller, knew few details about Ms. Miller’s conversations with her confidential source other than his name. They did not review Ms. Miller’s notes. Mr. Keller said he learned about the “Valerie Flame” notation only this month. Mr. Sulzberger was told about it by Times reporters on Thursday.”

It was all her fault…
“Interviews show that the paper’s leaders, in taking what they considered to be a principled stand, ultimately left the major decisions in the case up to Ms. Miller, an intrepid reporter whom editors found hard to control.

We tried to stop her…
“Once Ms. Miller was jailed, her lawyers were in open conflict about whether she should stay there.”

We’re really very sorry…
Mr. Keller said the case was not ideal: “I wish it had been a clear-cut whistle-blower case. I wish it had been a reporter who came with less public baggage…Mr. Taubman said he felt bad for his reporters, but he added that he and other senior editors felt that they had no choice.

With friends like that, who needs enemas? Judy does still have some friends. The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) has announced that Miller will be receiving their First Amendment Award in Las Vegas Tuesday. It’s too bad the SPJ’s standards include honoring hacks who engage in propaganda. Their colleagues at the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) considered giving Miller their Conscience in Media award earlier this year. The ASJA’s First Amendment committee voted to honor Miller, but that decision was later reversed by the full board. The SPJ would do well to reconsider also. The first amendment codifies freedom of the press. When you act as a willing conduit to plant damaging stories about your political opponents, you are not representing first amendment principles.

Judith Miller’s “Conscience in Media” Award Revoked

According to Editors and Publishers:

The American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) has voted unanimously to reverse an earlier decision to give its annual Conscience in Media award to jailed New York Times reporter Judith Miller.

The ASJA’s First Amendment committee voted to honor Miller, but that decision was reversed by the full board. Thank heaven the board was not afflicted with whatever disease had stricken the committee. Anita Bartholomew, a member of the committee exhibiting a rare measure of immunity said:

“The First Amendment is designed to prevent government interference with a free press. Miller, by shielding a government official or officials who attempted to use the press to retaliate against a whistleblower, and scare off other would-be whistleblowers, has allied herself with government interference with, and censorship of, whistleblowers.

She subsequently resigned her post in protest. Her statement above, and her actions since present a superb example of the kind of courage and ethics that is so desperately needed in mainstream journalism. If the ‘Conscience in Media’ Award has not been given to someone else, I would like to nominate Ms. Bartholomew. She deserves our appreciation and respect. Feel free to throw some her way.