The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Friday, March 26, 2004

The Judith Miller story gains a couple of twists

The last time (March 24) we were with the New York Times's Miller, she was on the Farther Shores of Neoconnery with Daniel Pipes and his Middle East Forum.

Re-reading Susan Moeller's study (PDF) [1] - of which more later - I naturally come across Miller's name more than once.

But, on p35a, a reference to a piece of Miller's appears in a section summarised in bold as
When journalists did take on the administration - especially when the White House's perspective formed the "conventional wisdom" - their stories were often buried or their criticism was more implicit than explicit.

Miller's is an article from October 26 2002 [2], not directly on WMD but on the National Security Strategy which was then only recently in the public domain. In particular, the assertion in the NSS that
Our forces will be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military buildup in hopes of surpassing, or equaling, the power of the United States.

Moeller says that
While Miller's piece quoted several Republican spokespeople, her framing of the issues let critical Democratic voices dominate.

Which is fair, though I'd not be sure that the critics are uniformly Dems. The piece appeared in the Arts and Ideas section, B9.

Miller's angle, though, is not, This is bad policy switch by Bush; but rather, It's a bad policy that's been around for at least a decade, arguably a lot longer.

The interest may just lie in the fact that for once [3], Miller is criticising the Administration, and getting her work buried accordingly.

But, just perhaps, she was taking a dive - a rather shallow one, in fact - to obtain a thin coating of objectivity.

In Jack Shafer's catalogue, the piece does not figure. Nor in the AJR August 2003 piece on Miller's WMD-related sins; nor in Michael Massing's NYROB piece on wider media failings on WMD.

Naturally, the thought occurs that one or two of Miller's critics might have been a little economical with the actualité. (Though it stays as a thought: the fact that a critic fails to mention an outlier like the October 26 piece has a probative value (of the critic's deceit) of as near to nil as makes no difference.)

But it does make one wonder how comprehensive have been the reviews of Miller's work.

There is a tailpiece: Miller got a quote in support of the NSS Hertz doctrine (she said it was called in USG) from
Richard Pipes, a Harvard University history professor emeritus

Surely not...

He most assuredly is. Father to the Daniel Pipes whose Middle East Forum maintains a list of experts on which Judith Miller appeared (which was where we came in).

Miller was on the list in April 2003; and, I suspect, was there in October 2002.

I wouldn't make a Federal case out of it: for a start, I'm not sure precisely how one would frame the non-disclosure charge against Miller for this. And, besides, as previously discussed here and all over, Times ombud Daniel Okrent views pre-arrival stuff as time-barred from his examination.

But the coincidence is nevertheless intriguing.

  1. On media treatment of WMD issues in three short periods in 1998, 2002 and 2003.

  2. Serendipitously available here.

  3. Is it just the once?

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