It might seem an odd pairing, but guerilla documentarian James O’Keefe and former New York Times foreign correspondent Judith Miller hit it off at the recent Right Online conference, a freedom-oriented bloggers conference in Washington. So much so that O’Keefe sat down with Miller for a 50-minute interview.
Miller is the author of a new book on her travails from her controversial Iraq War reporting on weapons of mass destruction and her time in jail for refusing to reveal her sources to the special prosecutor in the Valerie Plame affair. In her interview with O’Keefe, Miller reveals exactly how she thinks her sources that promoted the notion of Saddam Hussein having a dangerous weapons stockpile got it wrong and her role in the saga.
She also gives her candid views on many of her journalistic colleagues. “Skepticism should unite all journalists, and also the desire to hear the other person out and never have a closed mind,” she says. “I find it interesting that I find much more openness at Right Online than I find in many more classic liberal circles. Unfortunately, I don’t think my side has gotten out, which is why I wrote the book.”
Miller is no conservative, but she clearly believes a double standard has developed in journalism. “Take the Clinton Cash book by Peter Schweitzer,” she says. “If a Republican president had done the same things, can you imagine the outrage, the endless invective that would have been hurled?”
The double standard of the mainstream media has been exacerbated of late by two events, Miller believes. First, President Obama has on many issues been given “a pass” because he’s the first black president of the United States. Secondly, the New York Times has moved further left since she left the paper in 2005. “The opinions of the editorial board have drifted and dribbled in the news side” more and more often she believes.
The rest of the interview makes for a fascinating session in which a print journalist and a videographer agree that regardless of the way they approach stories, they are both, in Miller’s words, “poking holes in comfortable narratives.” And that should be what good journalism is often about.