NYT: Miller’s Delays Made Story Miss Deadline

It didn’t take 85 days, but Judith Miller was slow enough to cooperate with the New York Times team reporting on her case that some readers ended up missing the paper’s long-awaited Miller coverage on Oct. 16.

The paper’s two-story Sunday package–a 5,800-word account of Miller’s role in the Valerie Plame affair and Miller’s own first-person tale of her conversations with vice-presidential chief of staff I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby–missed the deadline to be included in the bulldog edition, 270,000 copies distributed nationally.

Deputy managing editor Jon Landman, who oversaw the reporting team, said the slipped deadline was a result of Miller’s delaying. Throughout the previous week, Landman said, Miller gave conflicting signals about whether she would write a story herself or not.

“We didn’t have her first-person account,” Landman said. “We didn’t have her perspective on things. We got it a little before noon [Oct. 14]. It was very frustrating.

“There was lots of off-and-on and on-and-off,” Landman added. “And that was frustrating too.”

The reporters on the story–Don Van Natta Jr., Adam Liptak, Clifford Levy and Janny Scott–had been working to complete a piece with or without Miller’s participation, Landman said. But when Miller turned in her first-person piece late on the morning of Oct. 14, the reporters had to race to re-report details to reflect her assertions, with less than a day to spare before deadline.

Executive editor Bill Keller, who was traveling in China, reviewed a partial draft. Copy editors received the piece by 9 a.m. on Saturday, but it was too late to turn the package around for the noon bulldog close.

–Gabriel Sherman 

Correction: The number of copies in the national bulldog edition was about 270,000, not 100,000 as originally reported in this item.