Friday, July 15, 2005

What is Judith Miller trying to protect?

To some (and to herself?), Judith Miller is the upholder of the freedom of the Press to protect anonomous sources. That is really not what she or her brethren at the NYTimes are fighting for--it is not what the majority in the media salivate over. Read these three articles in print today, from the NYTimes, "Rove Reportedly Held Phone Talk on C.I.A. Officer," the Washington Post, "Rove Confirmed Plame Indirectly, Lawyer Says," and the AP, "Rove Learned CIA Agent's Name From Novak."

The idea that Rove actually learned about the identity of Valerie Plame from Novak rather than the way it truely happened is now circulating around the web and to every media outlet in the country. Just do a google search on news stories about Karl Rove. This lie is being repeated ad infinitum even though the reporters of all three of the aforementioned stories merely relied on a single source (presumably the same one), a
person who has been briefed on the matter (NYT), a lawyer involved in the case (WP), a person who works in the legal profession and spoke only on condition of anonymity because of grand jury secrecy (AP). As Empty Wheel says:

Now, with the exception of the WaPo, which did some reporting using an anonymous source attached to Libby and an anonymous source attached to Cooper (kudos Mike Allen!), these stories all rely on one source--presumably the same "person in the legal profession" who happens to be a "lawyer" that "has been briefed in the matter" and therefore "has knowledge of the conversations between Rove and prosecutors" (for the sake of simplicity, perhaps we should call this anonymous person "Loquacious Luskin"). These stories--coupled with Mehlman's revealing statement--typify White House behavior in this Plame Affair...and more generally.

Obviously, these stories are the product of a deliberate effort to push back against the heat on Karl Rove, to buy some time, at least until Fitzgerald makes indictments, and perhaps to throw suspicion elsewhere (Libby and Judy sitting in a tree, L-E-A-K-I-NG). As with the original Plame leak, the White House has managed to get its spin--virtually unchallenged--into the papers of record and the main newswire. Even with the issue of sourcing and spin occupying such a central role in the Plame case, these journalists couldn't resist the bait.
He goes on, "It's not just Judy Miller who loses credibility when she relies exclusively on anonymous sources with a clear agenda. It's the whole profession. And it's a habit the press, like anonymous source junkies on a long waiting list to get into a methodone clinic, are desperate to break."

Liberal Oasis chimes in:

The news today should be about how a Bush Administration leak of the name of an Al Qaeda member turned double agent in Aug. 2004, hurt a British counterterror operation, allowing suspected terrorists to escape -- including possibly the eventual London Bombers.

As the leak was part of justifying a politically timed terror alert, right after the Dem Convention, this would be a second example of the Bush Administration misusing classified information for political purposes, harming our national security.

But more likely, the punditocracy will ignore the pattern that’s emerging, and flock to today’s NY Times report, claiming that Karl Rove didn’t leak Plame’s name to Bob Novak, but Novak told it to Rove.

It is stupefying that the NY Times would print this story.

It clearly comes from a single anonymous White House source, at a time when all White House officials are refusing to answer questions publicly.

Basically, the NY Times is picking up where its own Judith Miller left off – giving the White House free ink to distribute its talking points.

It is clear that Judith Miller is not really fighting for protection of the First Amendment; rather, she is using it in support of her true desire: access to power. She and her brethren will do anything to get their access, to maintain their privilege in the court of King George, who is playing them like the fools they are.

I have been reading quite a bit as of late about the king's ancestor, Louis XIV. In his court, courtiers competed for the attention of the king, and access to his inner chambers, the most privileged were admitted entry into his bedroom. Louis exploited this competition for his own ends; he winked at one and frowned at another. His every gesture had profound symbolic power, and could make or break the position of the most high and mighty.

It is no different in 21st century America. The journalists are those courtiers, competing for the attention of the king, careful not to do anything which would result in their banishment from the Court. Bear in mind, they are not in our service; they do the bidding of the establishment. As such, they are acting as part of the machine that they are mandated to expose.

How can we have a truely independent and alternative Press in America--a necessary condition to a flourishing democracy--when the single-source stories like the ones above are allowed to come into print?

See also Krugman's take today on Karl Rove's America.


Anonymous Chiaroscuro said...

I've been wondering if Judy is protecting Judy, that four months in jail is better than the shitstorm she'd be facing if she outed her source--someone, I think, higher on the food chain than Rove. As for the First Amendment and journalistic principles and all that nice stuff--yeah, she couldn't care less.

The administration is pouring on the fog juice but it won't matter to Fitzgerald's work. Today's single-source forays are too cute by half and I'll bet the average reader won't be inclined to make fine distinctions about Rove.

8:32 AM  

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