The Ten Month Beat

An account of the ten months at the graduate school of journalism for the class of 2006.

11.17.2005

And we've been fussing about Judith Miller all this time.

Woodward. Not that surprising, and disheartening -- for all the reasons below. From an online columnist I respect a lot:

All The Presidents Stooges

by digby

I can't tell you how impressed I continue to be with the elite journalists in this country. After finding out that top reporters from The NY Times, The Washington Post and NBC all withheld information from the public about their leaders, I can only wonder what else they may be keeping back because of their cozy relationships, book deals, or political sympathies. This is a crisis in journalism.

Matt Cooper was leaked to by Karl Rove in the summer of 2003 and he fought to keep from revealing his source. But he fulfilled his responsibility as a journalist by writing a story and it was the real story about what was going on. Here's the first paragraph of Cooper's first article on the subject back in 2003:

Has the Bush Administration declared war on a former ambassador who conducted a fact-finding mission to probe possible Iraqi interest in African uranium? Perhaps.


I don't know why all the other reporters who were being leaked this nasty bit of business didn't write articles with that lead, but they should have. As we all know, that was the story then and it's the story now. Instead it's only after the long arm of the law reaches into the newsrooms that we find out dozens of reporters, including some of the most famous and powerful, were involved in this little episode.

It turns out that Bob Woodward, who worked hand in glove with the administration to create the hagiography of the codpiece, has known for years that the White House was engaged in a coordinated smear campaign against Joe Wilson. Indeed, he was right in the middle of it. In the beginning he may have thought that it was idle gossip, but by the time he was on Larry King defending it as such he knew damned well that it had been leaked by Rove, Libby and his own source all within a short period of time. He's been around Washington long enough to know a coordinated leak when he sees one.

Novak took the bait and dutifully regurgitated the information. Matt Cooper smelled a rat and wrote about it. It's amazing how many other journalists heard the tale and dismissed the significance or went out of their way to "protect" sources by talking about the case on television every chance they got while pretending they were uninvolved. But none pooh-poohed the story and its significance in public with quite the same fervor as Bush's friend Woody.

I had thought that Tim Russert and Andrea Mitchell were the Lawrence Olivier and Vivien Leigh of this story with their endless "speculation" about an investigation in which they had information that could clear up many of the questions they were fielding. Woody takes the cake. His has been an Oscar worthy performance to rival Meryl Streep. He chewed the scenery so many times on Larry King that he should be given a lifetime achievement award:

(Cue "Battle Hymn of the Republic")

WOODWARD: If the judge would permit it, I would go serve some of her jail time, because I think the principle is that important, and it should be underscored. It's not a casual idea that we have confidential sources. It is absolutely vital. And I'll bet there are all kinds of reporters out there, if we could divvy up this four-month jail sentence -- I suspect the judge would not permit that, but if he would, I'll be first in line. It's that important to our business.


I don't think they could have made a cross big enough for the both of them.

Woodward and Miller have been willing tools of this administration from the get. Bob Novak was an open partisan on television, so everybody knew that they funneled information to him and he printed it for political purposes. These two (and their supporting players in television news) were the most important journalists in Washington working for the two most important papers in the country and the national news outlets. Among all the journalistic players in this, the only one who wrote the real story, in real time, was Matt Cooper. He's the one who should be getting the journalism awards, not Judy Miller. He's the only one who fulfilled his duty as a journalist and told his readers what their leaders were doing.

Perhaps this is the natural outcome of the press corps joining the entertainment industrial complex. It's ironic that one of the men who kicked off this new celebrity journalism with Watergate should emerge as one of the major players in this era's biggest "gate" scandal. I suspect that this time he'll have it in his contract to play himself in the film. After all, he's now bigger than Redford. And he's proven over the last couple of years that he's one of the best actors of his generation.

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