Lessons of the Miller Affair
Wednesday, October 5, 2005; Page A23
"Your reporting, and you, are missed," began Vice President Cheney's chief of staff in his Sept. 15 letter releasing Miller from any pledge of confidentiality and urging her to testify in the Valerie Plame leak investigation. "You will have stories to cover -- Iraqi elections and suicide bombers, biological threats and the Iranian nuclear program. Out West, where you vacation, the aspens will already be turning. They turn in clusters, because their roots connect them. Come back to work -- and life.
It's obvious that Libby cares about Miller and wants her to return to reporting on issues they both see as important. That sort of personal connection between reporter and source may strike some people as sinister, but it's the mother's milk of journalism. That's why people tell us things: Because we listen, and often sound sympathetic. Just ask Bob Woodward. But the true measure of a great reporter, as Woodward has shown time and again, is a willingness to bite the hands that feed you. And the measure of a great newspaper is editors who insist on that ultimate separation of reporter and source, but we'll come back to that.