Is Judith Miller Back at the Times?

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Despite some strong coverage and editorial
comment at the news of the Libby commutation, the New York Times offered up a story this morning that
undermines much of it. Citing (of course) anonymous staffers at the
White House, the piece recounts the thorough deliberation of
President Bush and his staff in the days leading up to the decision
to commute Libby's prison sentence.

This sentence captures the feel of the piece:

Because the deliberations were so closely held, those who spoke
about them agreed to do so only anonymously. But by several
different accounts, Mr. Bush spent weeks thinking about the case
against Mr. Libby and consulting closely with senior officials…

It seems like a basic rule of journalism. Sources get to be
anonymous when revealing their identity puts them or their careers
in jeopardy, not when they are running PR for the White House or
any other institution. It's not like these anonymous sources
(Cheney and Rove) had anything to lose with comments, and granting
anonymity undermines trust in a newspaper who grants it like this.

On a deeper level, one wonders why President Bush was so thoughtful
about this decision. He certainly didn't show that deliberation
before executing Karla Faye Tucker or the other 150+ people
executed in Texas while he was governor; nor did he show this kind
of deliberation when he started planning an attack on Iraq on
9/12/2001. After all, President Bush isn't a thinker, he's the
decider–and for the Times to fall for these claims of President
Bush "delving deeply into the evidence in the case" is
embarrassing.


About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a seventeen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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