Fox's Catherine Herridge has been reporting for a couple of weeks about the White House's change of policy regarding reporters' access to detainees at Guantanamo Bay, which while problematic from a journalist's perspective has all the earmarks of a classic bureaucratic conflict with reporters.
Herridge ran an update yesterday on Fox's Live Desk with Marsha MacCallum, including a clip of a Pentagon spokesman being short with Herridge, evidently, over her persistent questions on the issue. It looks like a tempest in a teapot, but Herridge is a serious reporter and her beef has some legitimacy, especially when it comes to transparency for this White House.
The interesting part of this report, though, came immediately after Herridge's report, when MacCallum hosted our old friend Judith Miller, the woman who helped bring you that six-years-and-running disaster on wheels known as the Iraq War. Miller decided that this Pentagon spokesman was in need of upbraiding:
MacCallum: What did you think of the Pentagon response there to Catherine's question?
Miller: You know, I thought, it's very combative. Excuse me, Mr. Pentagon Spokesman, for Fox doing our job. We're supposed to be there, we're supposed to be reporting on what the Pentagon is doing to and for these prisoners, or detainees, as they prefer to be called. And if he doesn't like our going back and back to look in on those people, well, maybe we should just believe everything they put out.
I found it completely combative, unnecessarily so.
So now we're being lectured on the relationship of reporters to official sources by the woman who was the faithful stenographer of Bush's Pentagon -- particularly Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld -- in selling the public on the notion that there were indeed weapons of mass destruction in the hands of Saddam Hussein. The woman who -- after the utter mendacity of her sources was revealed -- told an interviewer:
"[M]y job isn't to assess the government's information and be an independent intelligence analyst myself. My job is to tell readers of The New York Times what the government thought about Iraq's arsenal."
I don't have a problem with Fox reporters pushing for transparency from the Pentagon. I do have a problem with Judith Miller telling us how we should do that.
It sure is heart-warming, after all, to see Miller get concerned about looking into the accuracy of Pentagon claims -- though it does seem rather convenient that this is a concern of hers only now, now that we have a Democratic administration.
If she had demonstrated even an ounce of this concern during the Bush years, the nation might not have been talked into an outrageous, costly, and wholly unnecessary war.