American Pie 24.10.05

Will Judith Miller resign – or be fired? That’s the question being
asked throughout American media. Especially around the New York Times
to which Ms. Miller, the prize-winning reporter, returned after
spending almost three months in jail for refusing to name an informant.

At the time she was jailed she was hailed as a martyr by some,
applauded for her stand defending the rights of journalists’ not to
have to name their sources. Now it’s all very different. First it was
revealed she need never have gone to jail. Her informant, a member of
the White House staff, an aide to the vice-president, more than a year
ago agreed she could reveal his name.

Then editors at The Times
described their star reporter as something of a “loose cannon.” They
recalled she was taken off the national security and Middle East beat –
after she had reported, erroneously many now say, that Saddam Hussein
had weapons of mass destruction – reports which helped bolster
President Bush’s reasons for going to war in Iraq . But it was months
before she complied .

Some of the same colleagues at The Times
who had supported her stand have now begun to recount tales of her
sometimes odd and imperious behavior. Times columnist Maureen Dowd, a
former White House correspondent, in a fierce attack headlined “Woman
of Mass Destruction” told of the time when Miller had the effrontery to
make Dowd give up what Miller called “The New York Times’ Seat” at a
White House briefing..

The editor of The Times, in a letter to
the staff, admitted that over the months he and other executives had
been lax in their handling of the Miller case. . That was followed by
another lengthy report headlined The Miller Mess in the Sunday edition
criticizing the actions of the reporter, the editors and the Times. .

Not
since the Jayson Blair plagiarism scandal two years ago has there been
such turmoil at the paper. Unsaid by Times top executives was how much
the paper spent on lawyers’ fees – estimated to run into hundreds of
thousands of dollars

And what about Ms Miller – who once
delighted in the soubriquet “Miss Run Amok” – what is her reaction? She
is upset, in fact seething, over the turn-around of her colleagues and
The Times itself. . “I did nothing wrong. I am not ashamed ” she told
columnist Andrea Peyser of the NY Post.

At the moment she is on
leave, during which she may write a book about her experiences, and
then hopes someday to return to her job, A move which many of the
paper’s top executives do not regard as such a great idea. Even Arthur
Sulzberger Jr,, the paper’s publisher, who is quoted saying “She and I
have acknowledged there are new limits on what she can do next.”

What
would you pay to have a private lunch with Rupert Murdoch? How about
$25,000? An American website is organizing a charity auction for which
the prize will be luncheon for five with the chairman of News Corp at
the company’s private offices in Manhattan. The auction will benefit
the College of Technology in Jerusalem, regarded as one of the leading
schools of high-tech education and which Murdoch has endorsed in the
past as one of the pioneers in information technology.. Bidding is
scheduled to start on November 3 and run for a week. The website is
optimistic the bidding will be brisk.

Members of the American
Society of Magazine Editors have just voted on what they consider the
best covers on American magazines in the past 40 years. The winner? The
cover of the issue of Rolling Stone in January 1981 which showed a
naked John Lennon curled in close embrace with his wife Yoko Ono. The
photo was taken by Annie Leibovitz just 24 hours before Lennon was shot
dead in front of his apartment in Manhattan. (No 2 was the cover of
Vanity Fair in 1991 which featured an almost nude and undeniably
pregnant Demi Moore and No 3 a cover-picture on Esquire of Muhammad
Ali, also naked except of his boxing briefs, his body peppered with
arrows, published in 1968 at the time when he was under attack for
refusing to serve in the US Army) Altogether 444 covers (from 136
different magazines) were nominated. Three of the top ten were from
Esquire, whose covers for many years were created by legendary US ad
man George Lois, including the one of Muhammad Ali. Good covers it
seems never die, or the ideas don’t. Lois recently re-created his Ali
cover for the new magazine Radar, substituting Tom Cruise pierced by
arrows for the former boxing champ..

After just four months in
the US as deputy editor of The National Enquirer Louise Smith, and her
photographer husband Brian Roberts are returning to the UK, to join the
News of the World, .victims its said of the downsizing of the weekly
tabloid from 72 to 60 pages. Also recrossing the Atlantic: reporter
Claire Newbon who cited an “affair of the heart” as the reason for
returning to Blighty. All three were hired by British-born editor in
chief Paul Field, part of an effort to revitalize the ailing tabloid.

Dog
may have gone to the canine cemetery. But New York Dog – after just
three issues – is doing well. Although there are dozens of magazines
for dog lovers in the US, among them Dog News, Dog World, Dog Fancy,
Dogs Today, Modern Dog and Bark, New York Dog is aimed to up-market dog
owners . It also has some offbeat features such as a horoscope column
called Doggyscope, a fashion feature for dogs, a picture spread of dog
weddings called Bow Vows , a medical column (“Does You Dog Need
Prozac?”) and even an obituary column where dog lovers can commemorate
their departed pets. Dog would have loved it….

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