Quite a lot is contained in these five grafs from the Times mega-piece on the Judy Miller tale …
In two interviews, Ms. Miller generally would not discuss her interactions with editors, elaborate on the written account of her grand jury testimony or allow reporters to review her notes.
On July 30, 2003, Mr. Keller became executive editor after his predecessor, Howell Raines, was dismissed after a fabrication scandal involving a young reporter named Jayson Blair.
Within a few weeks, in one of his first personnel moves, Mr. Keller told Ms. Miller that she could no longer cover Iraq and weapons issues. Even so, Mr. Keller said, “she kept kind of drifting on her own back into the national security realm.”
Although criticism of Ms. Miller’s Iraq coverage mounted, Mr. Keller waited until May 26, 2004, to publish an editors’ note that criticized some of the paper’s coverage of the run-up to the war.
The note said the paper’s articles on unconventional weapons were credulous. It did not name any reporters and said the failures were institutional. Five of the six articles called into question were written or co-written by Ms. Miller.
It’s late so just a few observations.
First, how do the events <$NoAd$> leading to Raines’ dismissal compare to those only alluded to in their outlines here?
My recollection is that the accepted brief leading to Raines’ dismissal was that he oversaw an organizational culture in which the fabulist Blair was allowed to flourish and go undetected because excuses were so often made for him and warning signs of his misdeeds were overlooked or ignored.
The only editorial accountability imposed on Miller was that she not write on Iraq or unconventional weapons. And yet, Keller concedes, she seemed to self-assign her way back into the same territory. I don’t know what examples Keller has in mind. But a good place to start is Miller’s inexplicable coverage of the UN Oil-for-Food scandal as recently as this past summer.
Not only is the whole Oil-for-Food story by definition about Iraq, it is also far more deeply tied to the weapons back story than it appears to on the surface. One need only note that the purported documents which gave birth to the most inflammatory charges were ‘discovered’ by Ahmed Chalabi.
So it seems that Miller was literally out of (editorial) control at the Times not only after the WMD stories but after they were discredited as well.