Judy Miller struggles with self-awareness

JUDY MILLER STRUGGLES WITH SELF-AWARENESS…. It’s sad to see Judith Miller make the ignoble transition from the New York Times to Fox News to a far-right website called Newsmax. It’s somehow sadder, though, to see Miller offer political commentary lacking in self-awareness.

On Fox News over the weekend, host Jon Scott hosted a roundtable discussion reflecting on the major news stories of 2010. He brought up WikiLeaks, and asked, “Is this the new journalism?” It led to this exchange:

Miller: Yes, this is the new journalism. This is part of the new journalism and everybody’s just has to get used to it. If you have that much information, most of which or much of which is over-classified, if the location of the waste basket in an office is classified, someone’s going to leak it. Julian Assange may be a bad journalist, but he is a journalist.

Alan Colmes: Why is he a bad journalist?

MILLER: Because he didn’t care at all about attempting to verify the information that he was putting out, or determine whether or not it would hurt anyone.

Crooks & Liars has the video.

Now, it’s not unreasonable to have a debate over Assange and contemporary standards of what does and does not qualify as journalism. I don’t have an especially strong opinion on the matter, but it’s a worthy topic of discussion.

But Miller’s remarks are just bizarre given the larger context. She was, after all, the NYT reporter who published a painful number of erroneous reports on Saddam Hussein’s non-existent stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, pieces that contributed to congressional and public support for the invasion eight years ago.

The Bush administration fed her all kinds of bogus accounts, and she published them. To borrow Miller’s phrasing, she didn’t care at all about attempting to verify the information that she was putting out, or determine whether or not it would hurt anyone.

Indeed, Miller once famously defended her misguided reporting, saying, “[M]y job isn’t to assess the government’s information and be an independent intelligence analyst myself. My job is to tell readers of The New York Times what the government thought about Iraq’s arsenal.”

Does Miller not realize why her Assange criticism might sound ridiculous, given her own scandalous background?

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.