QUOTE FOR THE DAY

NYT’s public editor, Byron Calame, unloads:

“Now Is the Time.

The lifting of the contempt order against Judith Miller of The New York Times in connection with the Valerie Wilson leak investigation leaves no reason for the paper to avoid providing a full explanation of the situation. Now.
As public editor, I have been asking some basic questions of the key players at The Times since July 12. But they declined to fully respond to my fundamental questions because, they said, of the legal entanglements of Ms. Miller and the paper. With Ms. Miller in jail and the legal situation unclear, I felt it would be unfair to publicly castigate them for their caution.
At the same time, I decided my lack of information made it impossible to fairly evaluate for readers Ms. Miller’s refusal to identify confidential sources and how The Times was handling the matter. The absence of complete answers to my fundamental questions also prevented me from publicly rising to Ms. Miller’s defense, despite the initial burst of First Amendment fervor among some journalists supporting her.

But legal concerns should no longer rule the roost…

While a multitude of issues need to be addressed, I certainly will expect The Times’s explanation to address these fundamental questions that I first posed to the key players at the paper in July:

–Was Ms. Miller’s contact with the source she is protecting initiated and conducted in genuine pursuit of a news article for Times readers?

–Why didn’t she write an article?

–What kinds of notes are there and who has them?

–Why wasn’t she exploring a voluntary waiver from the source?

An important and obvious issue that has arisen in recent days, of course, is Ms. Miller’s seemingly belated discovery of notes from a June 2003 conversation that she had with I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheneyx92s chief of staff. Several hours after she testified before the grand jury yesterday about the notes, a federal district judge in Washington, D.C., lifted the contempt finding that had caused her to spend 85 days in jail.
I write this expecting The Times will publish its explanation as soon as possible. Unfortunately, even if it were published Friday or Saturday, deadlines wouldn’t allow me to assess The Timesx92s explanation in the public editor’s column space this Sunday. I must submit my column by Friday morning; the space Sunday will be devoted to reader letters about my two previous columns, as regularly scheduled.
So, assuming The Times publishes its explanation sometime in the next few days, I will be assessing it in my column on Sunday, Oct. 23. I will need time to do some reporting. A representative of Ms. Miller has indicated that she will talk to me at some point, and I would expect to have access to both Mr. Keller and Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the publisher, if necessary.”

Memo to Byron Calame: you can use the web first. Like this. It’s easy. Print it later if necessary. For the record, I’m not going to try and guess the ending of this particular Washington movie. But it’s a sleeper, isn’t it? (Hat tip: Petrelis.)

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