Jon Stewart pulled no punches in his Wednesday interview with Judith Miller, grilling the former New York Times staffer on why she reported extensively on the alleged existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq during the Bush administration—penning pieces that, as he reminded her again and again, led to the Iraq war.
Miller defended herself throughout the interview, claiming that she had placed her trust in the intelligence community at the time, couldn’t find credible dissidents to their reports, and believed it was her duty as a journalist to “tell the American people what information was being given to the White House that had the White House convinced that Saddam was still harboring weapons of mass destruction.” She pointed Stewart to her new memoir, The Story: A Reporter’s Journey, which traces how she came to conduct her controversial reporting on the WMDs.
“It was really, really hard to do this kind of reporting,” she said. “The intelligence sources that we were talking to had really never been wrong before… They had never led me astray, and I went back to them in this book, and I asked, ‘What happened? How did you get it wrong, and how did I get it wrong?’”
Stewart disagreed, saying the intelligence community isn’t the only one to blame. Unsurprisingly, the interview grew heated. At one point, as Miller became visibly agitated with Stewart’s questioning, she asked, “Jon, were we not supposed to report what it was that had the intelligence community so nervous about Saddam? Were we supposed to keep that from the American people?”
“No,” he replied. “You should have reported it in the context that this administration was very clearly pushing a narrative.”
Still, Miller conceded that the false intelligence leading up to the Iraq war was “a tragic mistake.” “Look at the mess in Iraq,” she continued. “But it’s an understandable mistake when you look at what went wrong with the intelligence, which is what I was trying to do.”
At this, Stewart admitted the two would never agree on the topic. Watch their full, unedited interview below, an extended version of what aired on Comedy Central Wednesday night: