Miller, New York Times finally open up

October 16, 2005 | By Jim Stovall | Filed in: journalism.

Judith Miller and the New York Times have finally published accounts of the controversy that landed Miller in jail for 85 days this summer. A careful reading of them leads you to believe that Miller went to jail because of a misunderstanding between her lawyers and those of Lewis Libby, chief aide to Vice President Dick Chaney.

But there are other questions that the accounts raise. This one, for instance:

Why was Judith Miller parsing the quality (voluntary, not voluntary, etc.) of the release of the confidentiality pledge that she received from her source? Obviously, it wasn’t voluntary. Think about it.

Matthew Cooper did not have any problem with whether or not Lewis Libby’s release had been “voluntary.”

Miller’s stance on this question adds an undue burden on a reporter. Reporters are not responsible for the situations sources may find themselves in. And how are they to tell is a release is “voluntary”?

Miller’s decision to protect her source was the right one. She had pledged confidentiality, and she needed to honor that. When she was released from that pledge, that should have ended it.


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