Unfit to Print

The first question raised by the Times' Judy-Culpa and by Judy Miller's own account is: Who told Judy about Valerie Plame (or "Flame" as the name appears in Judy's notes)? According to these two pieces, the name was immaculately conceived. "As I told Mr. Fitzgerald, I simply could not recall where that came from," Miller writes.

When the Plame case broke open in July 2003, these notes were presumably no more than a few weeks old. But who had revealed Plame's name was not seared on Miller's mind?

This is as believable as Woodward and Bernstein not recalling who Deep Throat was. It also means that Judy went to jail to protect a source she can't recall.

Not since Geraldo cracked open that vault...

Now that I have spent a few hours absorbing this latest installment in the ongoing soap opera "Desperate Editors," I can safely say that not since Geraldo cracked open Al Capone's vault has there been a bigger anticlimax or a bigger sham. After all, the question everybody has been asking is: who was the source who leaked Valerie Plame's identity to Judy Miller?

And the answer? She can't remember.

Given the "gee-whiz, it all just sort of, like, happened, and I don't know when or why or where or who..." tone of her mea no culpa, maybe Judy is vying for a role on MTV's "Laguna Beach."

Which is just as well, because if these two articles have revealed anything at all, it's that Judy Miller is no journalist.

Judy Miller: A victory for journalism?

The Times articles are inconclusive about a lot of issues, but they are devastatingly conclusive about Miller as a journalist -- including, the confirmation that, within a few weeks of assuming the editorship of the Times, "in one of his first personnel moves, Mr. Keller told Ms. Miller that she could no longer cover Iraq and weapons issues," and including the Times' long-delayed acknowledgement that 5 of the 6 articles in its WMD mea culpa "were written or co-written by Ms. Miller."

Here are some more problems about Miller as a journalist:

Her account of her meetings with Libby shows how off-target her journalistic radar was. Is it because of how off-target her loyalties were? Here is a quote: "My notes do not show that Mr. Libby identified Mr. Wilson's wife by name. Nor do they show that he described Valerie Wilson as a covert agent or "operative..." My notes show? Wasn't she there?

One thing we do know about Judy Miller is that she's no dummy. Whether or not Libby said the words "Valerie Plame," and whether or not Libby knew or revealed that Plame was covert, it's inconceivable that Miller did not know what was going on: a high-level administration official was trying to smear a critic of the administration. That's news. That's something the readers of the New York Times --and the American people -- deserved to know, and yet she did nothing with the information. Indeed, she still calls Libby a "good-faith source who was usually straight with me." Was it an example of Scooter being straight with Judy (and the public) that he asked to be described not as "a senior administration official" (as was their "prior understanding") but as a "former Hill staffer"? "I agreed to the new ground rules because I knew that Mr. Libby had once worked on Capitol Hill." Mr. Libby had also once been to high school. So how about "former high school student" to really disguise the identity of the White House henchman from her readers?

And here are some questions for Miller's editors:

Did Miller mislead them when she denied that she was one of the journalists to whom White House officials disclosed Plame's identity? Here's the quote from Sunday's article:

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Imagine you've forgotten once again the difference between a gorilla and a chimpanzee, so you do a quick Google image search of “gorilla." But instead of finding images of adorable animals, photos of a Black couple pop up.

Is this just a glitch in the algorithm? Or, is Google an ad company, not an information company, that's replicating the discrimination of the world it operates in? How can this discrimination be addressed and who is accountable for it?

“These platforms are encoded with racism," says UCLA professor and best-selling author of Algorithms of Oppression, Dr. Safiya Noble. “The logic is racist and sexist because it would allow for these kinds of false, misleading, kinds of results to come to the fore…There are unfortunately thousands of examples now of harm that comes from algorithmic discrimination."

On At Liberty this week, Dr. Noble joined us to discuss what she calls “algorithmic oppression," and what needs to be done to end this kind of bias and dismantle systemic racism in software, predictive analytics, search platforms, surveillance systems, and other technologies.

What you can do:
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