Sunday, October 16, 2005

Earth to Sulzberger

To Arthur Sulzberger, Jr.:

I know you are known as Pinch in the trade, but may I call you Junior? It seems much more appropriate about now. The destruction you have wrought on your empire offers remarkable parallels to the mess made by that other Junior running a somewhat bigger show about now.

Anyway, I am not yet feeling motivated to go through the 5800 words of "hide the ball" you published line by line to point out every question begged, every outrage softpedaled, and every lie unchallenged. But there is a rather critical point that has not come up in the commentary I have been reading, brought up by this stunning and revalatory passage:

“In two interviews, Ms. Miller generally would not discuss her interactions with editors, elaborate on the written account of her grand jury testimony or allow reporters to review her notes.”
OK, please concentrate real hard here, and perhaps ask someone to help you with the hard words:

Unless you cut some special, extra-stupid deal with your molotov cocktail of a reporter, the notes in question aren't "her" notes, Junior -- they're yours.

As an employee of what is at least nominally still a newspaper, her work product belonged to her employer. I don't think there is much question that a reporter's notes are work product. She would therefore have no right to withhold the notes from you or others demanding them on your behalf. You would be completely justified in (a) firing her for refusing to turn them over and (b) getting a court to force her to do so. You might want to direct your high-powered legal team to the law of conversion.

Of course, if Judith Fucking Miller was not actually an employee of the Times -- if she was, say, an employee of WHIG, or the CIA, or some such, then the notes might indeed be hers. You might want to clear that one up for us.

Thanks, and have a great day.


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