Sunday, October 16, 2005

Judy Miller and the Anthrax

It was the height of the post-9/11 fear era. Someone mailed letters containing anthrax to ABC News, NBC News, CBS News, The New York Post, and the Florida-based company that publishes the National Enquirer in mid-September. If someone is trying to get America's attention with maximum efficiency of effort, s/he has hit just about all the top strategic targets for doing so -- except, interestingly, the New York Times.

On October 4, an employee of the Florida media company is confirmed to have contracted anthrax. This is obviously big news -- the first such case in the U.S. since 1976.

The next day, a letter containing a white powder is mailed from Florida to the New York Times reporter Judy Miller. The powder tests negative for anthrax.

Following this newfound bout of national celebrity, Miller spends the next several weeks or so making the news show and speech rounds to offer her expertise on the topic of bioterrorism, which just so happens to be the topic of her then brand new book Germs.

It always struck me as odd that someone would go to such lengths to raise fear in the halls of the New York-based news media industry, yet somehow skip over the Times. Or that someone merely carrying out a copycat hoax just happened to hit the one major media target that had been previously missed, even though that fact was not known at the time.

At the time, I, like most Americans, was too caught up in the moment -- and an extraordinary moment in history it was -- to think clearly enough about what we were seeing.

Given the distance that comes with the passage of time, and given lowly depths to which it appears Ms. Miller has shown a willingness to plumb in pursuit of notoriety, I am given to periods of willingness to entertain the notion that Ms. Miller may have been less the unwitting victim of a cruel hoax than we have been led to believe.

Is this worth discussing, or am I a conspiracy theorist tinfoil hat nutjob?

Anthrax attacks timeline here


At 9:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And don't forget she is the one who paraded around in front of the cameras, and before the horrified American people with the dust of the fallen Twin Towers all over her clothes, hair and face on nine-eleven...she did not even dust herself off before she sat down inside the TV studio for the on-air that is when it started getting real tinfoily for me.

At 10:16 PM, Blogger Lanky_Bastard said...

A pretty brave thing to publish if there's anything to it.


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