In a memo to staff, leaked to the AP, Bill Keller reveals a problem and a scapegoat.
I wish we had dealt with the controversy over our coverage ofAnd along came Wilson. He was their hero. Wilson claimed he had debunked the Niger uranium claim and that the administration had ignored his report. He further claimed that Bush had hyped the intelligence and
WMD as soon as I became executive editor.
misled us into war. While quietly blaming Judith Miller, who had done most of the WMD reporting, the paper could worship Wilson. See! This is how the Times could have printed all those WMD articles that turned out to be wrong. It's Bush's fault!
"Oh, you're the one who saved our paper!". Remember that?
The Times was so concerned with criticism over WMD reporting, that they ignored criticism from the other direction (Look at Wilson! Explain Kristoff!) and it seems to have fubarred their judgment.
Wilson's right! The Administration is being vindictive! Judy betrayed us by not sticking it to Libby!
And this blame of Judy boils over and out into the open after her testimony in the Plame affair. The staff begin to sound like little Dowd clones. Both Maureen in her piece (firewall), and the Times reporters who dissed Judy a week ago, insinuate that Judy wasn't forthcoming and was too vague with her testimony.
But what is alarming from our newspaper of record, and to First Amendment proponents, is this quote from Keller's memo:
But if I had known the details of Judy's entanglement with Libby, I'd have been more careful in how the paper articulated its defense, and perhaps more willing than I had been to support efforts aimed at exploring compromises.Is he willing to entertain the possibility of throwing a source to the dogs if he learns that a reporter actually, you know, had a source?
That a source was government friendly, that he didn't know Judy was talking with him, that his reporter is more of an independent cat than an obedient dog, means that this particular source need not be protected?
He's perfectly willing to assume as fact that Judy was in essence lying to Taubman when she told him she was not on the receiving end of what he calls "an anti-Wilson whispering campaign."
Mr. Keller, if there was no whispering campaign, Judy couldn't have been on the receiving end.
Oh, you're relying on her notes too?
The first 'lesson' you should learn from this is: train your reporters to take better notes.
The second is that your anger is directed at the wrong person. Are you afraid of taking a critical look at what Wilson told Kristoff and wrote in his op-ed? Are you willing to examine the SSCI report and take some notes on your own? The New York Times is happy to list the bi-partisan report in timelines, but are they willing to actually, you know, read it?
The Washington Post did.
But not a word from the Times.
Wilson was just too perfect as a savior and the paper is still using him as their template.