Not until tonight did I closely read through the Times article on the Miller fiasco. And I have to ask: Was I the only one who found the reporting extraordinarily thin?
I'm not trying to criticize the reporters, or not necessarily them. But the piece read to me as though the reporters had been allowed to interview Times management and employees on the record -- and that was about it. I didn't get a sense that the piece was based on a lot of reporting outside the Times building itself and its Washington bureau. After all, how many other people are there in Washington the Times reporters could have interviewed on background? Miller's colleagues, FBI agents, various lawyers around the case, people at the State Department, the Pentagon, the possibilities are not much short of endless.
I can't know what Van Natta, Liptak and Levy did or who they talked to. And I can only imagine the cross-cutting pressures they were working under. But I didn't see much signs of that kind of reporting in the piece I read.
Of course, the piece is already pretty lengthy. And it reveals a number of important new facts about the story -- which I'll discuss in a moment. But it leaves an inevitable question: Is this it? The article leaves a slew of questions conspicuously unanswered -- about the paper, about Miller, about the case. Who's assigning follow-up articles? Look at the piece in detail and Miller and Jill Abramson seem to be calling each other liars. That, or there's a mystery 'editor' loose at the Times.
All that aside, what does it tell us? Several things, as near as I can see, and in no particular order. Miller seems to lie repeatedly in her statements both to the Times and, as she relates what she said, to the Grand Jury. She's still not cooperating with the Times. Sulzberger and Keller went down this whole path while knowing virtually nothing about the situation Miller was in or what she had done. She kept them almost entirely in the dark. And they didn't protest. Keller, meanwhile, concedes he either wouldn't or couldn't control Miller. That squares with a general impression that Keller was passive in the face of Sulzberger's recklessness and poor judgment.
Hopefully Pat Fitzgerald has a decent idea of what happened and what's happening here. Because I think our information is thin and more incomplete than we realize. Miller's still holding out for whatever reason, good or bad. The fire burning at the Times hasn't been brought under control let alone extinguished. And remember, Miller's just one part of this story.