There's a tendency to lump them together, especially because as Evan Dawson points out, one of the reactions to media coverage of both has been to threaten groundless libel lawsuits in an attempt to shut up bloggers like myself. (Didn't work, nyah nyah.)
Moreover, the blogosphere generally dislikes both men for different reasons. Miller had been mocked for years for his overenthusiastic 100-point scores for big syrupy wines. I don't see as many people mocking Suckling for his palate or his ratings, but his personality ... well, take a look at the "I'm Here" video.
But there's an essential difference between the scandals, and it is this: If the worst thing Miller had been accused of, and has since been exonerated of, had been true, that would truly have been a scandal.
I simply don't see a scandal in the worst thing Suckling was accused of, until he started lying about it. If he would only be honest, we could all move on.
A brief recap: Miller was accused of demanding money from a regional wine association, through an associate, to review that region's wines. I want to be very clear that it has since emerged that Miller saw none of this money.
That potential scandal was worth investigating for a couple of reasons. For one thing, to Robert Parker's credit, his published ethical standards are as strong as anyone's in the business, and Miller's behavior seemed like it might contradict them.
But even without those standards, the idea is dangerous. If the Paso Robles wine association pays me to issue 100-point-rating reviews of its wines, how can I be objective? Wouldn't they have the right to complain about the ratings, since that's what they're paying for? How could a consumer trust those ratings?
What Suckling was accused of -- and apparently did -- is very different. The retailing monopoly of the state of Quebec paid Suckling, and one deliverable it received was tasting notes for wines in its stores. Those notes could then be used as shelf talkers to sell the wines.
If Quebec was paying Suckling to give 95-point raves to wines he didn't like, that would be a scandal. But I just don't see a problem in him taking money from Quebec instead of Wine Spectator. The guy delivers tasting notes for money; that's his job. If he tastes 10 wines and likes 5, Quebec could choose to use his notes on those 5 and ignore the others. We can get into a longer debate about why writers don't publish negative tasting notes, but the established industry practice at Wine Spectator and the Wine Advocate is to publish
Suckling should just own up to it. In fact, he could do the rest of the wine-writing profession -- and indeed the entire journalistic profession -- a favor if he would just make one of his precious videos about it explaining that professional writing means writing for money. ("I'm Here cashing the check. I'm Here buying groceries with the money.")
Instead, he's making writing for money seem shameful, as if writers should all be independently wealthy and should provide services just because of our love of adjectives.
Suckling is apparently ashamed of writing, so he now claims he's a filmmaker, at least when he's getting paid. I can't decide who that is more insulting to: writers or filmmakers. He's essentially saying that writers should work for free, while filmmakers can take money for anything.
By threatening lawsuit, Suckling is at least acting like a filmmaker. Francis Ford Coppola surely approves.