In general, Judith Miller’s book tour has been really upsetting. It isn’t that I blame her for the Iraq War. But she was at a bare minimum a useful fool of the Bush administration that was determined to go to war with Iraq. Yet here she is with her new book, The Story. And every time I see her, she is making the same reasonable sounding, but wrong, claims that it wasn’t her — it was the flawed intelligence. If pushed, she will admit that, sure, it wasn’t the intelligence as such, but rather the intelligence filtered through the White House that was wrong. But then she will follow it up with something to the effect that all the reporters got it wrong — except Knight Ridder. But even that heads back at her, because eventually even they assumed they were wrong because, well, look at what The New York Times was reporting!
So normally, I wouldn’t have watched Jon Stewart’s interview with her on The Daily Show. But I heard that he really went after her. And he did indeed. But the truth is that Judith Miller is very good at deflecting criticism. And she is just going to sit there, smile, and repeat her mantra, “I was just reporting what I thought was true; all the other reporters were doing it.” It’s just shameful. And Stewart’s conclusion was appropriate:
But the main thing was the total disgust that was on his face. Miller, of course, smiled through it all. She is, after all, not just selling a book; she’s selling herself. But the best that Stewart could manage was a very tight, clearly angry, forced smirk. I was glad to see it. He clearly feels the way I do.
I want to be clear about what this feeling is. I have no wish to see Judith Miller harassed and belittled for the rest of her life. People make mistakes. For some, it is small and maybe all it does it ruin their lives. But some make mistakes on a grand scale. Miller is such a person. Now I fully appreciate that if Cheney and company didn’t have access to her, they would have found someone else. But they did have her, and it isn’t asking so much for her to admit that she did a bad job.
Ultimately, the problem is with the media system itself. Judith Miller has presented herself — and continues to — as a neutral observer. She’s just reporting the facts as she finds them. But as The Daily Show interview shows, this isn’t the case. She actually did have an ax to grind. I don’t doubt that she was unaware of it. But she appears to be so focused on exonerating herself that she is still unaware of her biases. If she were honest and admitted that, yes in fact, she wanted to believe the nonsense that the White House was dishing, then it would all be over. I would accept that she — very much like myself — is imperfect. But the Judith Miller going all over the nation pimping her book? She hasn’t learned a thing.