Former New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who in 2005 spent 85 days in jail for refusing to identify former White House aide Lewis "Scooter" Libby as a confidential source, said Friday she believes the media failed a major test when reporters and news organizations acquiesced to subpoenas issued them by federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald.
"Had the press hung together," Miller said, and had more journalists protested the "pro-forma" confidentiality waivers issued by the White House, the damage done to the media during Fitzgerald's investigation into who leaked to reporters the identity CIA operative Valerie Plame would have been much less.
But, as it stands, she said, the investigation and Libby's recent trial that featured a parade of prominent journalists--including Miller--on the witness stand is cause for "enormous concern." Miller, speaking at the National Press Club during a media forum, blamed the nation's deep political divisions for making news organizations wary of fighting the orders to testify.
"These are very difficult times," said Miller, noting that there are at least 70 active subpoenas of journalists--"a chilling prospect.
"[This is] when solidarity really counts," she said.
Miller, who had become a lightning rod for complaints about faulty pre-war reporting on weapons of mass destruction, also told those at the forum, sponsored by Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, that the New York Times has spent $2 million defending her in three separate cases--including the Libby case--in which she or her notes and phone records had been subpoenaed.
By Liz Halloran