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Thursday, July 07, 2005

Judy's Turn To Dry

Not everyone is sypathetic to the plight of New York Times columnist, Judith Miller, who was sent packing to a jail rather than testify before a grand jury about one of her confidential sources. The New York Times, in an editorial stated:

By accepting her sentence, Ms. Miller bowed to the authority of the court. But she acted in the great tradition of civil disobedience that began with this nation's founding, which holds that the common good is best served in some instances by private citizens who are willing to defy a legal, but unjust or unwise, order.

This tradition stretches from the Boston Tea Party to the Underground Railroad, to the Americans who defied the McCarthy inquisitions and to the civil rights movement. It has called forth ordinary citizens, like Rosa Parks; government officials, like Daniel Ellsberg and Mark Felt; and statesmen, like Martin Luther King. Frequently, it falls to news organizations to uphold this tradition. As Justice William O. Douglas wrote in 1972, "The press has a preferred position in our constitutional scheme, not to enable it to make money, not to set newsmen apart as a favored class, but to bring to fulfillment the public's right to know."

However, William Betz in Buzzflash shares the view of many, who recognize the First Amendment implications of Judith Miller's plight, but don't see Miller in quite the same martyr-like light.

Our hearts must bleed for Judith Miller, who is more famous as a stenographer for Ahmed Chalabi than as a legitimate reporter. Now she's off to jail, poor girl. Remember, it was Miller who, in concert with her masters at the Times, qualifies hands-down as the enabler of the millennium, at least so far. She was spoon-fed lies by the disaffected Iraqi criminal and dutifully reported those lies as fact, supporting the false claims of Bush & Co. that there really were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and Saddam wanted nothing more than to use them against America. What a load of hooey.

Why a fiction writer was permitted to transcribe far-fetched stories and publish them on the front page of the "newspaper of record" is a mystery that may never be resolved.

Still, the newspaper's executive editor had the gall to stand outside the courthouse when Miller was sent to jail today, and to continue to mouth his pious platitudes about the First Amendment and the duty of the press to protect its sources. He might be properly reminded that the first duty of the press is to report the news, not fiction, and that factual accuracy is the essence of the news. It is clear that if it weren't for Miller and Novak and those of their ilk, there might have been more truth told about the Bush administration's fraudulent reasons for planning the invasion of an unarmed country, and hundreds of thousands of lives could have been saved.

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