talking to c.i.

judy miller is the punching bag today at most sites.

i called c.i. to find out what visitors were saying and, no surprise, they were griping. about
'NYT: "Reporter Jailed After Refusing to Name Source" (Adam Liptak)' and 'The Js: Jane (Mayer), Jude (Iddybud) and Judith (Miller).' in nasty terms filled with accusations.

and c.i.'s response was to laugh. that's something that people might not get. c.i. will say 'i may be wrong' at the site and in conversation. 'to be fair' are 3 words anyone who knows c.i. has grown to expect. so there may be the idea that c.i. can be swayed on something and a number of visitors were saying 'i will never come back here unless you change your position.'

but what they don't get is that c.i. is not bothered by taking an unpopular position. never has been. years ago, i can remember this completely peaceful look that c.i. would get when it was time to take a stand. i could picture that look while speaking on the phone today.

it's the same look we saw before the war when c.i. said it was wrong and we would be stuck there and people would be dying, no cake walk. we were at a dinner party and this guy was just enraged by those comments and red faced and yelling and c.i. didn't care.

i have never known c.i. to say 'i told you so.' but when c.i. takes a stand on something it's usually works out to where c.i. could say 'i told you so.'

i asked c.i. 'do you feel you're right?' and c.i. said absolutely and that 'you didn't grow in the family i did without realizing the importance of a free press. my mother and my grandfather would both haunt me if i took any other position.' and c.i.'s family was in the newspaper business and i think c.i.'s told that at the common ills. if not oops.

and that's where c.i.'s anger comes in at today's press. c.i. is very old school and was very much old schooled by the family.

freedom of the press is not a position c.i. will support half way. nor 1 that c.i.'s grandfather would have supported half way.

'what are you being accused of?' i asked.

'the funniest 1 is that i'm trying to get a job at the new york times as though they'd say "hey you stuck up for us on this so let's forget that you've trashed elisabeth bumiller and that you've trashed dexter filkins and all the rest and come work for us!"'

the other chuckle came from the suggestion that c.i. was trying to position as a moderate since c.i. is extreme on free speech.

you don't apply it just for the people you agree with. and c.i.'s rudith miller is well known as are opinions of judith miller. but you don't toss out your princples just because it might help you score a political victory.

i asked c.i. about members and c.i. noted some members disagree but that they do grasp what's involved and that their position is similar to fair's position which is a respectable position that has thought behind it 'but these i hate judy so she must go to jail' opinions are not based in reality.

c.i. also brought up the point that while miller deserves criticism in terms of the new york times, there are people who want to act as though she is responsible for everything and while others get to 'slink off' she remains the lightening rod.

'miller didn't host nightly news. she didn't even book herself on the programs she appeared on.
others made those decisions but they'll get a pass and it's miller time nonstop.'

and c.i. listed 5 examples and then asked me if i noticed something about the examples?

'they were all men. miller's more fun to bash because she's a woman. the times does have a reach and miller did benefit from it but in terms of tv versus newspaper, more people see tv news than read a paper. to imply that judith miller is responsible for all media is to give a lot of people a pass.'

and that's a point c.i. made awhile back when talking about the paper's mea culpa. that to name judith miller would give everyone an out. where's nbc's mea culpa or cbs's or any 1s?

or the nonsense about dick cheney holding up the times on meet the press. he held it up. there was nothing to prevent tim russert from asking hard questions. there's no rule that you hold a paper and then the questions stop.

'people are dead and dying. miller's reporting is an issue in that but she's not the only 1 though you'd think so to read some of the nonsense. she was a bad reporter. she wasn't the only 1. but focusing on her allows others to get off. there's this argument that there's a circling of the wagons. no. iran-contra, barbara walters one day in the news and then vanishing was circle the wagons. miller's used as an excuse for others to hide behind. there are other reporters and others who pretend to be that were as bad as miller but to read the e-mails you'd think she hosted every evening news program and every morning show. anything she went on, she went on as a guest. if there were not opposing guests, that's a problem with the show. within the times the criticism is sound and the criticism of the paper is sound. when you leave that to do an all media criticism, turning her into the scapegoat so that others can avoid be pressed on their own reporting is an easy out.'

'if the times's reach was so incredible, the runaway bride wouldn't have been the huge nonstory it was. the times can flood the zone and impact what gets covered. but miller was doing bad reporting that others backed up, endorsed or added to. and to make it "judy took us to war" means someone better tell soros and others to stop wasting money on election cycles because cleary that money should be poured into journalism schools instead. it would be lying to say that she and the paper can't impact coverage. they can. but people make those choices in other formats and they need to be held accountable for them. and there's a woman at nbc who never gets named despite the fact that she was even spoken to about her 'reporting' and told to modify it because it was too obvioulsy one sided. people in the control room would burst out in laughter during some of her early reports as she scowled while mentioning some democrat and then beamed her brightest smile as she intoned "the president." no one wants to touch her, left or right. and she covers d.c. she covers the bully boy. and her reports are as bad if not worse than miller. is she taken seriously? probably not by professionals but i doubt most tv viewers question her.'

'i don't care if miller took a brave stand for selfish reasons. some people say that. it doesn't matter to me, the stand was for a free press. whether she meant it or not i don't know and i don't care. it was a brave stand and to deny that is to deny the climate we're in, my opinion.'

'there is fair criticiscm. fair has solid criticism. and people wanting to rejoice about miller should probably bone up on that so that they can have something to argue other than "bad reporter!"
instead they want to turn her into being personally responsible for all media and apparently for decisions made in the oval office. "she lied us into war." even within the context of the times, spread some of that blame on up the chain. her name's not on the masthead as publisher or executive-editor. howell raines went with those stories. and reporters on tv have people who aired their own stories. there's a lot of blame to go around. but since miller's so obviously criticized it's easy to grab that criticism and avoid doing work on others. you can read amy goodman's book, for instance, and then trash judy miller. goodman's writing within the context of the times and dealing with the paper's reach. but some people don't seem to get that and think that judy miller and only judy miller got us to where we are. they must miss it when amy goodman says "people like judith miller" as well. where's any network's mea culpa? i watched tv news during the lead up to the war and i never watched fox news. i saw reports similar to miller's. why aren't those people's known as bad reporters?'

'she's the fall guy for everyone which isn't fair. there were many reporters whose work would not now hold up to scrutiny. i'm not defending her reporting and i've been clear about that at the common ills. but i am saying stop making her the sole sin eater because a ton of people are getting off with a pass as a result.'

'and you can be opposed to her reporting and still defend the rights of a free press. you can also support a free press and argue that she should turn over her source. fair's done that. but a lot of people don't want to do that thought or that work. they want it in black and white terms where there's one villaness and it's all so simple. i don't think it is simple. i can respect fair's stance and see where they are coming from. but others who haven't done the work twist in the wind because they have no foundation to their argument that also supports a free press. it's just bash judith miller for who she is. the case wasn't about her. that's why i criticized the times for treating it like that in some stories. that's what we got at when we were brainstorming. the issue is bigger than miller. if you're going to come out insisting she cough up a name you need to have something to back that position up with. none of the emails did that no matter how long they went on.'