turning in clusters

It is nice to begin the weekend on a note of Ionesco like absurdity, which is why I am grateful to Judy Miller’s attorney for adding a new twist to the 1th amendment in the form of the codicil that Ms. Miller was fighting for her freedom not to report her story at all. Not content with acquiring a special security clearance from the Pentagon, Miller also seemed to think she was entitled to a special get out of jail card simply for being employed by the Times. Luckily, Miller’s mind didn’t drift to knocking over convenience food stores, which is also apparently covered by the 1st amendment. That’s some amazing amendment.

However, there is some life at the Times suddenly. One of LI’s commentators remarked last week that the much maligned Maureen Dowd was obviously restive about the Times inexplicable bondage to one reporter. Today, Dowd’s column was a little shot across the bow:

“The Times's story and Judy's own first-person account had the unfortunate effect of raising more questions. As Bill said yesterday in an e-mail note to the staff, Judy seemed to have ''misled'' the Washington bureau chief, Phil Taubman, about the extent of her involvement in the Valerie Plame leak case.
She casually revealed that she had agreed to identify her source, Scooter Libby, Dick Cheney's chief of staff, as a ''former Hill staffer'' because he had once worked on Capitol Hill. The implication was that this bit of deception was a common practice for reporters. It isn't.

She said that she had wanted to write about the Wilson-Plame matter, but that her editor would not allow it. But Managing Editor Jill Abramson, then the Washington bureau chief, denied this, saying that Judy had never broached the subject with her.

It also doesn't seem credible that Judy wouldn't remember a Marvel comics name like ''Valerie Flame.'' Nor does it seem credible that she doesn't know how the name got into her notebook and that, as she wrote, she ''did not believe the name came from Mr. Libby.''’

And, unlike Dowd’s usual endings, which take the sting out of her stinging, this one is pretty straightforward:

“Judy told The Times that she plans to write a book and intends to return to the newsroom, hoping to cover ''the same thing I've always covered -- threats to our country.'' If that were to happen, the institution most in danger would be the newspaper in your hands.”

That Maureen Dowd gets it and that the editorial management at the Times publicly doesn’t – that Dowd actually has pierced the veil enough to understand that the Times is ruining its credibility with its audience on a principled stand that doesn’t make sense – might just mean that revolt is in the air.