Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Comparing CBS's Dan Rather and NYT's Judy Miller

A letter I wrote today to writer-scholar-activist George Monbiot, whose blog is highly recommended:

Hello George,

In your "Media Fairyland" piece, I wish you had said something about the parallel between the CBS Rather/Bush story and the NYT Judy Miller/WMD story.

It seems to me that Miller was reporting a lot of lies about WMD fed to her by Ahmad Chalabai. Unlike the CBS story which was basically true, the NYT WMD story, as we all know, was basically false: Iraq had no WMD. The CBS story basically claimed the obvious: Bush used his connections to avoid the war, and then didn't serve out his commitment. I am a 9-year veteran of the Air Force. I can't imagine the AF records not being able to show definitively and positively that I was where I was supposed to be during my commitment. Moreover, my father and brother, both veteran pilots, have told me that they would never dream of missiong a flight physical. Missing a flight physical like that would seriously damage any regular officer's career--that is, any flyer not in some "champagne" squadron.

One of the big problems with what went down in the media with the CBS story is that crappy reporting on the right seems to go on without people losing their jobs, without consequences. Why would Miller (or the administration) trust Chalabai, a criminal on the lamb from Jordanian officials, and an obvious opportunist playing several sides at once? Blatantly bad reporting on Miller's part. The Miller stories helped propell the US into a grossly unethical, illegal, unnecessary, and stupid war. Why is she still on the NYT payroll? Not to mention the Valerie Plame outing, and the forged yellowcake documents. Why weren't the journalists reporting the Niger-yellowcake stories fired from their jobs, if not accepting forgeries as fact is what is required to keep your job? Why doesn't the NYT lose credibility over the Miller-Chalabai articles when CBS does over the Rather-Bush story? Again, and as you know, the basic idea of the CBS story was ... correct! Bush received favored treatment to get into the Texas ANG, and then didn't complete his commitment--a commtiment that is supposed to be payback to US taxpayers for the very expensive costs of pilot training. What is so obvious is that Bush did not feel compelled by any duty to fulfill this commitment. We do live in a "fairyland" where someone who lacks this kind of sense of duty is President, and where the media and its audience seem so blind to the right-wing bias so clearly exposed when we compare the fate's of Miller and, for example, CBS producer Mary Mapes.

Thanks again for another great article.

Best wishes,

Eric Anders

George Monbiot's reply the next day:

"Yup. Spot on. G."

An update from 8/05: see Ariana Huffington for more on Judy Miller. Great stuff.

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