American Pie 21.11.05

Now it’s Bob Woodward, America’s most legendary newspaperman who is
embroiled in the Washington CIA leak scandal.. Perhaps accidently, or
possibly boastfully, he let slip in a tv interview that he knew the
name of the secret CIA operative – whose identification was central to
the jailing of reporter Judith Miller – long before it became public.
But he never told his editors at The Washington Post. .Just as he never
confided until recently the identity of Deep Throat, his secret
informant in the Watergate scandal. For that Woodward was praised. .
Now he is being castigated. And also questioned by the Government
prosecutor who is bent still on bringing charges against those
officials he suspects revealed the name of the CIA agent, Valarie
Plume, whose husband, a former diplomat, was involved in the
investigation into Saddam Hussein’s alleged efforts to obtain material
for his now disputed weapons of mass destruction..An investigation
which ,when it turned out to be negative, supposedly ired the White
House. And led, it’s claimed, to the “outing” of his wife. Woodward has
not publicly revealed the name of his informant. It’s not believed to
have been Lewis Libby, the former aide to the American vice president,
who is said to have been Judith Miller’s informant and has been already
charged with lying to a grand jury and obstructing justice. One name
that has been mentioned is former Secretary of Defence Colin Powell,
but he has denied the charge. Many journalists feel that Woodward – who
has confessed he remained silent because he did not want to be drawn
into the investigation – has betrayed his colleagues. The only
Washington Post executive to defend him has been former editor Ben
Bradlee who says that a reporter is not obliged to tell his editors
everything he is doing. Bradlee’s successor Leonard Downie doesn’t
agree. He is upset. Colleagues suggest that Woodward is today more
interested in writing books than day- to -day journalism. All of which
has cast a cloud on Woodward’s reputation. What effect his belated
disclosure will have on the case against Lewis Libby is not clear yet.
But its anticipated it will not make the prosecution’s case any easier
and could prolong the inquiry into the CIA leak. It has also turned the
spotlight here once again on to many newspaper readers’ views of the
behaviour of journalist – a lot of it not favourable…. Not
unexpectedly in the wake of the publicity surrounding the CIA case, and
the role played by its star reporter Judith Miller, the NY Times has
tightened its rules about using information from anonymous sources..
After the famous Jayson Blair scandal two years ago The Times ruled
that before a confidential source makes it into the paper at least one
editor has to know the source’s name. Now, when a story is based on an
anonymous source, readers have to be told why The Times believes the
source is entitled to anonymity Not naming a source ,the NY Times
claims, will be the exception rather than routine.. But there is still,
some at The Times believe, work to be done tightening up the rules.
Although many journalists fear that sources will dry up if they are not
afforded anonymity some still believe disguising a story’s source can
both be a blessing and a curse for journalism , – and for readers.

Back
to Judith Miller…How much did the veteran Pulitzer-prize winning
newswoman who worked for the paper for 28 years and spent nearly three
months in jail, get for agreeing to resign in the wake of the CIA
scandal. She hasn’t said. Nor The Times. But inside The Times the
belief is that she got three years salary, plus a three-year bonus, and
health benefits for the rest of her life. A package which could be
worth, its estimated, as much as $3,000,000 – or close to 1,800,,000
pounds.

After just eight months, Inside TV, a spin-off of TV Guide, once the
biggest selling magazine in the US (like Radio Times in Britain) and
considered a potential sure-seller, is closing. It was an expensive
experiment. It’s estimated that Gemstar, a company with Rupert Murdoch
connections, incurred losses of over $24,000,000. The magazine’s
failure is seen as evidence of the shake-out here in celebrity
magazines. The field, one publisher commented, has become over-crowded.
.Also Inside TV was launched at the same time as several other similar
magazines hit the market, among them Celebrity Living , Life and Style
and Richard Desmond’s US version of OK!. Inside TV sold between 100,000
and 130,000 copies a week – about half of what’s considered acceptable.
Also reported to be losing money: The National Enquirer, The Star and
their sister magazines Shape and Muscle & Fitness.

America may yet be getting a new lad mag after all. Keith Blanchard,
former editor of Maxim, , who spent some time developing a prototype of
a magazine called Bullet for Hearst Magazines, a project that was
abandoned a few weeks ago, has joined Bauer, a German company that
publishes a number of low-cost weeklies .including In Touch and Women’s
World. Reportedly Bauer is interested in creating something like Nuts
and Zoo for the American market One problem is that both Nuts and Zoo
depend largely on lots of nudity and graphic photos. Big retailers such
as Wal-Mart and Kroger are not too keen in these sort of magazines and
often relegate them to obscure display racks – if they sell them at all.

Quote of the Week: “I’m just sick of being told I’m dying – I’m
feeling great” Rupert Murdoch assuring investors that a succession plan
for News Corp will be ready well before it’s needed.

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