Maureen Dowd got personal with Judy Miller in her column headlined, “Woman of Mass Destruction,” on Saturday. We’d rather call it the battle of the babes. Dowd, left, began by declaring, “I’ve always liked Judy Miller” — which made us think uh-oh — and ended by declaring:
Judy told The Times that she plans to write a book and intends to return to the newsroom, hoping to cover “the same thing I’ve always covered — threats to our country.” If that were to happen, the institution most in danger would be the newspaper in your hands.
In between the start and the finish, a nicely sketched anecdote showed that Dowd was back in the sort of form so lacking in her columns ever since she returned from book leave or vacation or whatever:
Once when I was covering the first Bush White House, I was in The Times’s seat in the crowded White House press room, listening to an administration official’s background briefing. Judy had moved on from her tempestuous tenure as a Washington editor to be a reporter based in New York, but she showed up at this national security affairs briefing.
At first she leaned against the wall near where I was sitting, but I noticed that she seemed agitated about something. Midway through the briefing, she came over and whispered to me, “I think I should be sitting in the Times seat.” It was such an outrageous move, I could only laugh. I got up and stood in the back of the room, while Judy claimed what she felt was her rightful power perch.
Because Dowd’s columns are now hidden behind a subscription curtain, we thought we’d quote it to illustrate the flavor of her nasty, personal best. Coincidentally, the moral she drew — that Miller’s return would be, uhm, not so good for The Times — neatly dovetailed with Bill Keller’s guilty plea, issued in a memo late Friday afternoon, which made it a fair assumption that Miss Run Amuck is unlikely to be allowed back to cover anything at all. Then we got to thinking, was Dowd’s column actually a coincidence? Gee, hmmm, etc.
— Tireless Staff of Thousands
Postscript: Jim Romenesko writes: “Dowd column is
here. I suspect this is a case where the Times won’t threaten the webmaster for running the column.”