Fox News enlists WMD misinformer Judith Miller to write about WMD

Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

In the entire history of American journalism, there is probably not a single writer with a more horrible record of reporting on weapons of mass destruction than Judith Miller. So of course's story about a report by the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction which graded the government on its handling of WMD proliferation features the byline of... Judith Miller.

Why might a news outlet think twice about letting Miller write any kind of story, let alone one involving WMD? During her time at the NY Times Miller repeatedly "reported" misinformation about Saddam Hussein's WMD capabilities; those stories became evidence that could be cited by Bush administration officials to push their case for the invasion of Iraq. In other words, Miller's work was a vital part of the pro-war echo chamber. The NY Times later had to go to the unusual step of writing an editor's note about the shoddy quality of Miller's WMD work, as Slate's Eric Umansky noted (emphasis mine):

After taking its very sweet time, a NYT editor's note acknowledges that some of its WMD reporting was overly credulous and is no longer, em, operative. While archly noting that most of the coverage was an "accurate reflection of the state of our knowledge at the time," the Times acknowledges, "We have found a number of instances of coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have been. Looking back, we wish we had been more aggressive in re-examining the claims as new evidence emerged--or failed to emerge."


Not that anyone in particular is at fault: "Some critics of our coverage during that time have focused blame on individual reporters. Our examination, however, indicates that the problem was more complicated." Which is true; editors at the Times weren't skeptical enough and didn't give sufficient play to countervailing evidence. But just because many were at fault doesn't mean one wasn't particularly so. Of the 12 flawed stories the Times cites, Judith Miller wrote or co-wrote of 10 of them.

This is perhaps not the person you want to put on the WMD beat, to say the least. Or any beat, for that matter.


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