Tags: Judith Miller | New York Times | Iraq War | Saddam Hussein

Judith Miller: NY Times 'Panicked,' Punished the 'Pushy Woman' Reporter

Judith Miller: NY Times 'Panicked,' Punished the 'Pushy Woman' Reporter
New York Times reporter Judith Miller. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

By    |   Monday, 20 April 2015 11:33 AM

The venerable New York Times "panicked" rather than just admitting that it published what it knew at the time about former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Judith Miller said Monday, adding it had to "find someone to blame for this" — and that person was her.

"[They decided] there must be a lack of skepticism, rather than there was a consensus, and everyone believed it," said Miller on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program. "And so they turned around and they highlighted the pushy woman. The man is the aggressive reporter; the woman is pushy. It wasn't the paper's finest hour."

But Miller, who is now a Fox News contributor and author of the new book "The Story: A Reporter's Journey," said that she's not looking to settle any scores with her former employer.

"I think the Times is an indispensable institution at a time when there are too few facts around," said Miller.

However, she said the Times' actions came after she was released from jail, where she was sent for 85 days for refusing to reveal Lewis "Scooter" Libby as her source after she leaked the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame, because of "panic that set in" when she wasn't in jail longer.

Miller blames the newspaper's leadership, not her colleagues, who "understood and have defended me and said what happened was very unfortunate."

Further, Miller said the paper's public editor said it was not accurate for her to take the brunt of the blame for the inaccurate stories.

"Harold Raines and Gerald Boyd, who is now dead, the first African-American to be in senior leadership at the Times, they won seven Pulitzers, an all-time record. [But] they weren't even asked about what they tried to do to vet the stories that appeared in The New York Times before the paper announced that it had not been skeptical enough," Miller said Monday. "That's just not true. We were all plenty skeptical."
Miller, meanwhile, got the reputation of being a "cheerleader for the war," said "Morning Joe" panelist John Heilemann, a co-managing editor of Bloomberg Politics and former New York Magazine national affairs editor, which Miller said made it the hardest part of the whole episode.

Miller said she has wanted to go back and show how both she and her sources got the stories wrong, but the Times will not allow her to correct the records.

"That is what is reprehensible," she said. "You have to correct the record, which is why I wanted to."

Further, she went back to look at her own testimony in the Libby trial.

"That was something I got genuinely wrong," she said. "And I want to always go back and correct the record. If we don't do that, we're not doing our jobs."

Miller said her book is not only about the war, but about journalism and efforts that are made to cover the story "and where we get things right and where we get things wrong."

"It used to be that we were all entitled to our own opinions," she said. "Now it seems we're entitled to our own facts. And that's why I wrote this book."

She also writes in the book that before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, then-President George W. Bush and other senior officials cited incorrect conclusions about Hussein's weapons.

"There is this narrative that is so comfortable that the left will not give up — they lied, people died — as if that is how we got into the war in Iraq," Miller said. "No, it's much more complicated. And there have been a lot of books. But what there [hasn't] been is a book about journalism, what we got right, what we got wrong."

And the nation's leaders were "right about Osama bin Laden and so was I when I said he was a threat to this country 10 years before he came on our national radar," said Miller. "The same with biological weapons. They were right about a lot of things, [but] they got WMDs in Iraq wrong."

However, that was the information Bush used to make his difficult decision, said Miller.

"Three different commissions have looked at all of the intelligence analysis and talked to the analysts, they found no pressure, they found no indication that anyone lied us into a war," she said. "It's worse than that. We got it wrong."

It also gets lost that many key Democrats, including presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry, all were in favor of the war, Miller pointed out, and it gets forgotten that Hussein and Iraq were a threat.

Watch the video here.

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The New York Times "panicked" rather than just admitting it published what it knew at the time about former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Judith Miller said.
Judith Miller, New York Times, Iraq War, Saddam Hussein
Monday, 20 April 2015 11:33 AM
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