Tom Tomorrow:
The crux of the matter

I think Alterman points out something crucial in l’affaire Miller–the impact of social striving in the government/media nexus of the Northeast Corridor. When you live in these worlds, it’s all about the parties.

The big question in The New York Times cafeteria yesterday was how did it happen that Arthur Sulzberger and Bill Keller let so dishonest and slippery a character as Judy Miller hijack the institution of the New York Times for her own nefarious purposes and humiliate its entire echelon of top leadership; the publisher; the editor and the editorial page…

Again, the answer is ultimately unknowable, but I?ve always felt it was a matter of social power. Judy is married to Jason Epstein, who is one of the most widely admired and well-liked people in all of New York. Jason is a legend of an editor, and was widely referred to for decades, almost every time you heard his name as ?the smartest man in New York.? He practically invented the trade paperback book, and played key roles in the founding of The New York Review of Books and the Library of America. He is also the editor to some of our greatest fiction and non-fiction writers. What?s more, he is a charming raconteur and a famous amateur chef. Maybe he?s got some bad qualities, but I?ve never heard any mentioned. Anyway, Jason and Judy are famous hosts, at their apartment in the Police Building downtown and their Sag Harbor House, and they sit at the nexus of an extremely important social network that nobody wants to be thrown out of. (I saw Jason, whom I like and admire, at a party the night before Miller?s last testimony and did not know what to say to him, given what I?ve written about his wife. I?m sure a lot of people don?t want that problem.) The fact that Judy was also close to Arthur Sulzberger made her nearly untouchable, no matter what she did inside the paper. As Keller admits in the long take-out, he could not control her. She had more power to get her reporting in the paper than he felt he did to keep her out.