Previously, when newspapers have taken their own work to task, it has resulted from one of two causes. A reporter was caught committing outright acts of plagiarism or fabrication — as with The Washington Post's Janet Cooke or the Times' Jayson Blair. Or the paper needed to clear the name of an innocent person whom the newspaper had effectively tried and convicted of a serious crime — as the Atlanta Journal and Constitution did to Richard Jewell, falsely accused of the 1996 Millennium Park bombing, and the Times did to Wen Ho Lee, falsely accused of spying.
THE issue that has ostensibly caused this unprecedented character assassination is Miller's involvement in the public exposure of CIA operative Valerie Plame. And in this case, no one at the paper is accusing Miller of making anything up — because she never published anything on the subject. Nor can anyone accuse Judith Miller of harming the reputation of an innocent — because, again, she never published. . . .
OF course, none of this Miller character assassination has anything to do with the Valerie Plame story. Rather, it has to do with the war in Iraq, weapons of mass destruction — and the peculiar solipsism of both the staff of The New York Times and the paper's liberal readership.
Read the whole thing. I think that driving the war issue is the Baby Boomers' Vietnam era conceit that right-thinking people are always "against the war," regardless of circumstances. Or which war.
UPDATE: David Adesnik on a different story exhibiting the same phenomenon: "I think the real lesson of this article is that journalists are unable to comprehend Iraq except through the prism of Vietnam."