Friday, May 13, 2005

Still the New York Timid, No Word on the Memo, and When Judy Goes Scoop, Nothing Goes Right

Also in the Times this morning, Alan Cowell informs us that "Britain Backs Penalities if Iran Restarts Nuclear Program." Does it? Perhaps the headline (which Cowell didn't write) should read "Tony Blair Backs Penalities . . ."? Sipping his cup of tea in the photo accompanying the article, The Poodle probably assumes he looks relaxed. He's striving too hard for "relaxed" to actually appear that way. Cowell has noted, in a previous article, Blair's problems and what the election results appear to imply (The Poodle better watch himself and mind the yapping).

But the Times really hasn't driven home to its readers how awful the election results were for Blair and how shaky his hold is. Add in that the Times has yet to address the July 23, 2002 memo that the Sunday Times of London published May 1st (well it's only twelve days later, right?):

C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.
[. . .]
The Defence Secretary said that the US had already begun "spikes of activity" to put pressure on the regime. No decisions had been taken, but he thought the most likely timing in US minds for military action to begin was January, with the timeline beginning 30 days before the US Congressional elections.
The Foreign Secretary said he would discuss this with Colin Powell this week. It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran. We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors. This would also help with the legal justification for the use of force.
The Attorney-General said that the desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action. There were three possible legal bases: self-defence, humanitarian intervention, or UNSC authorisation. The first and second could not be the base in this case. Relying on UNSCR 1205 of three years ago would be difficult. The situation might of course change.
The Prime Minister said that it would make a big difference politically and legally if Saddam refused to allow in the UN inspectors. Regime change and WMD were linked in the sense that it was the regime that was producing the WMD. There were different strategies for dealing with Libya and Iran. If the political context were right, people would support regime change. The two key issues were whether the military plan worked and whether we had the political strategy to give the military plan the space to work.

See the continued ignoring of this memo by the New York Times is the sort of thing that makes people angry. (And why I dub it the New York Timid.) Bill Keller will give a rah-rah speech at some location (and sometimes a healthy crowd turns out for it, sometimes it doesn't and an editorial berates students for not showing -- but maybe they're tired of the song and the dance?). But the Times doesn't have to work all that hard to report on this memo -- a memo that is big news in England and you can be sure Alan Cowell is aware of. But the paper draws the veil on this (as they did with Naomi Klein's revelations about James Baker, to offer only one example).

Readers of the Times today don't just depend solely on it for the news. And thank God for that, or we'd be woefully uninformed.

The memo was big news at the first of this month in England and it continues to be big news.
Writing on Blair's promises to back up his Bully Boy, Cowell's writing with one hand tied behind his back. He can't speak of how weakened Blair has been by the elections and the memo. Blair can bluster (over his tea cup) all he wants. It's highly unlikely that Blair has the power to back the Bully Boy. Too bad for any reader who depends solely on the Times for their news because they may have no idea how weak the ground Blair's standing on currently is.

On a similar topic, it's choir time. Join me in singing:

The sun don't beam
The moon don't shine
The tide don't ebb and flow
A clock won't strike
A match won't light
When Judy goes scoop
Nothing goes right*

Yes, that can only mean one thing, Judith Miller is back to screaming "scoop" yet again. Today the paper refuses to allow her to soil herself on the front page. Instead, they let her stink up page A8 (and presumably "minder" Craig S. Smith is stuck with clean up -- our hearts go out to you, Smith). The article's entitled "House Releases Iraqi Papers On Strategy for Oil Sales."

On the plus side, Judy goes "scoop" this time on the record. (See the panel's proposals are having an impact -- let's hope it's not a limited one.) Possibly because of that, Miller can't work up her usual grudge f**k rage. But we've moved beyond sad, we've beyond delusional and are in the Land of Pathetic.

Judith Miller was not "proved f**king right!" as she once so demurely snarled. Quite the contrary. And the paper should find her another beat. Actually, they should have fired her ass long ago. But since that's not happening, they should find an area for her to cover that doesn't remind readers of how awful her reporting/cheerleading in the lead up to the invasion/occupation was. Not only does it discredit the paper, it undercuts all efforts to paint Miller sympathetic in her current legal battles.

It's as though Judy borrowed your car keys in the midst of a bender and smashed it up. She's due to face the judge in a matter of days and instead of keeping her nose clean in the meantime, she's hitting the booze hard and starting back on another bender.

This is not how you rehabilitate someone's image. But Miller's apparently still not grasped how badly she trashed her own reputation. (Which probably explains why she originally thought her Sally Field imitation would play.)

A partisan committee attempts to work up a scandal (supposedly based on documents -- as though anyone paying attenting during the initial months of the invasion is unaware that the documents, like everything not having to do with oil, were not secured) and Miller rushes in to give them prime space in the paper. She also allows them to pontificate at length while "short-handing" the responses of the accused.

Let's go to Democracy Now!'s Headlines from yesterday:

Antiwar European Politicians Accused of Iraq Corruption
Back in this country, a Senate committee report on the so-called Oil-for-Food scandal released last night alleges to have uncovered "significant evidence" that the antiwar British politician George Galloway was allocated millions of barrels of oil from the government of Saddam Hussein. The committee says it based its charges on documents from the Iraqi ministry of oil and interviews with senior officials of Saddam's government, including former Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan. Galloway immediately refuted the allegations. He said "It is merely the repetition of false accusations that have been made and denied before. Something does not become true because it is repeated by George Bush's Senate majority." Galloway just won a hotly contested race for parliament against one of Tony Blair's strongest allies. The Senate investigation is led by Minnesota Republican Norm Coleman. The report also accuses former French Interior Minister Charles Pasqua of profiting as well.

Guess what? In headlines you got a better picture of what's going on in one paragraph then you do in the entire nineteen paragraph (check my math) grudge f**k co-penned by Miller.

Actually, the paper notes that "Judith Miller reported from New York for this article and Craig S. Smith from Paris. Alan Cowell contributed reporting from London." Left out of the note is that Miller's misguided ego apparently contributed more than anything else.

One more time, everybody:

The sun don't beam
The moon don't shine
The tide don't ebb and flow
A clock won't strike
A match won't light
When Judy goes scoop
Nothing goes right

That this article goes beyond embarrassing is hardly surprising. That no one at the Times realizes how this sort of nonsense revives all the ill will (to put it mildly) towards Miller is surprising. At a time when efforts to remake her as "demure" and a soft spoken little Norma Rae for the First Amendement have failed repeatedly and miserably, it's as though the Times (the organization) has decided to throw in the towel. If that's the case, who could blame them?
Miller's "benders" are off-base "reporting" and as long as she refuses to go stone cold sober, what can anyone do?

How can you help someone who refuses to help themselves? How many interventions can be done when Miller still refuses to stand up and say, "My name is Judith Miller and I have a problem with reporting the facts?" Miller's benders are her own problem but that the paper continues to enable her reflects poorly on the Timid.

The e-mail address for this site is

* As noted in "Judith Miller returns to the New York Times front page, America left skeptical:
"When Judy goes scoop, nothing goes right." If you've seen Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, hum the Harold Adamson and Hoagy Carmichael song "When Loves Goes Wrong" that Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell sing in that film. Just substitute "Judy" for "love" and "scoop" for "wrong" [. . .]
See also "Parody: Rudith Miller weighs in on journalism and Judith Miller's front page story in this morning's Times."