The New York Sun Snags Another Miller Slip

The New York Sun's article on Judith Miller's testimony in a Chicago court yesterday is too important to be ignored. It offers another example of how this fallen Times reporter may have misbehaved on duty. Miller admitted she got special access to an Israeli prison to watch an interrogation, and even got to pose her own questions to the prisoner. She conveniently forgot which editor at the Times approved her visit, and whether she recorded the interrogation. If her sloppy accounts of her own behavior are in any way the standard fare, then the journalistic community has many subtler, more cutting problems to deal with than those Jayson Blair caused.

Apparently, despite the fact that she didn't mention her special access privilages in the story she wrote about the incident, Miller later described her visit three years after it happened:

Ms. Miller eventually disclosed her visit to the interrogation center, describing it in a book she published in 1996, "God Has Ninety-Nine Names." In the book, she acknowledged the role of Rabin's office and that she was given the opportunity to ask questions of Mr. Salah through an interrogator. That made her "deeply uncomfortable," Ms. Miller wrote. "Where was the line between journalism and participating in an official inquiry, and, for all I knew, torture?"

The moral angst she describes doesn't seem to have lasted long on either side of writing it. Miller neither protested at the time nor acknowledged the mistake she made afterward.

The Sun article touches at the end on a point relevant to all journalists hoping to follow in Miller's footsteps as a foreign correspondent. Here is a journalist whose testimony is doing wonders to help convict a man of a federal crime. A press law professor quoted in the article points out that this doesn't do much to boost potential subjects' faith in journalists' independence.

This article is the first one I've read about Miller that actually gives me a clear picture of how she might tend to act, as a journalist and as a person. The fact that she is testifying in a federal case is relevant enough that this incident should have appeared in more papers than it did. Why isn't the Times itself covering it? This is an example either of widespread hesitance to portray Israeli government officials in a poor light or of the journalistic community shying away from the messiest effects of its own shortcomings.

Recent comments



Syndicate content