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Did Alberto Gonzales Really Characterize Priscilla Owen’s Dissent As “An Unconscionable Act of Judicial Activism”?
I recently signed on to the analysis of the folks at Power Line that it is simply not true that Alberto Gonzales characterized a Priscilla Owen dissent in an abortion judicial bypass case as “an unconscionable act of judicial activism.”
There’s really no question that the Power Line analysis has merit. If you read the opinions in the case, Gonzales clearly appears to be speaking about other dissents, and not Priscilla Owen’s.
Imagine my surprise to see this in the New York Times:
Mr. Gonzales, a Texas Supreme Court justice at the time, was in the majority and wrote that the position of the three dissenters was “an unconscionable act of judicial activism” because it would create obstacles to abortion that the Legislature did not enact.
Mr. Gonzales, in interviews with The New York Times, acknowledged that his words were directed at her dissent but said that he remained enthusiastic about her nomination to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
I am at a loss as to how to reconcile this with reports like this one, which claim that Gonzales stated, in sworn testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee: “My comment about judicial activism was not focused at Judge Owen.”
I am interested in fighting for nominees who refuse to read their own personal preferences into the Constitution. But I’m not interested in twisting the facts to do so. I don’t like Alberto Gonzales, as I have said on many, many occasions. But if he called Priscilla Owen’s dissent “judicial activism,” that’s a fair argument for Democrats to make. Gonzales was clearly wrong — but the correctness of his assertion is a different question from the question of whether he made it.
On the other hand, Big Media journalists have been known to get things wrong. Even the New York Times. Actually, especially the New York Times.
I don’t know which happened here, but I think some hard questions need to be put to Gonzales and the folks at the New York Times. Someone isn’t telling the truth.
Every blogger in the universe must sign up for Pajamas Media. No downside, tremendous potential for upside in terms of ad revenue. Nothing is required of you at this point. Just join! To do so, send an e-mail to:
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UPDATE: John Hawkins at RightWingNews has an interview with Marc Danziger that sheds more light on the project.
When are reports by anonymous government sources good enough to repeat in the L.A. Times? It appears that the answer may be: when those sources are reporting information that is harmful to the interests of the United States.
Yet the L.A. Times repeated the allegations of the Newsweek report in numerous stories — without once telling its readers that the report was based on unconfirmed reports from anonymous government sources. (See here, here, here, here, here, and here). And editors found the allegations credible enough to mention them in an editorial this morning.
Meanwhile, the paper deep-sixed reports of an alleged satellite recording that supported the American version of the Sgrena/Calipari shooting.
Why did L.A. Times editors hide information about the satellite recording from their readers — while repeating the Koran-in-the-toilet story without any caveats about the shaky sourcing of the report? It’s certainly true that, once the riots occurred, the Newsweek reports were news whether they were true or not. But if L.A. Times editors were truly suspicious of stories based on anonymous government sources, surely they would have warned readers that the Newsweek report was based upon unnamed sources, and lacked corroboration.
It’s hard not to see a pattern here. When anonymous government sources report news favorable to America, the L.A. Times cuts it out of the story. When anonymous government sources report news that makes America look bad, it’s reported without any caveats — even when that news is inflammatory and causes rioting.
If there is an alternative explanation, I’ve yet to hear it. It has now been two weeks since I wrote L.A. Times “Readers’ Representative” Jamie Gold about this issue, and no response has been forthcoming.
UPDATE: More from Captain’s Quarters here.
UPDATE x2: Derek Rose has a good point: we should obviously hold the rioters accountable for the deaths in the first instance. Newsweek screwed up — badly. But the primary responsibility for the deaths is on the hands of the rioters.
That should go without saying — but maybe it’s worth saying anyway.
Wow. Today’s L.A. Times Sunday Opinion section is worth a read. It’s packed with sensible commentary. If the editors could pull this off every Sunday, I might actually encourage some of you to resubscribe.
Look, I’m really busy right now but, all right, I’ll take five minutes to solve the problems of the mainstream media. I mean, ratings for network news are at an all-time low, newspaper readership is falling off the chart, the public’s trust in journalists is steadily eroding — the least I can do is sacrifice one coffee break in order to sort things out. It doesn’t require internal studies or revamped formats. Just three little words of advice will fix every one of their troubles: Hire some conservatives.
I don’t mean hire a conservative. I don’t mean cover conservatives. I don’t mean allow conservatives to express a minority opinion on your Op-Ed page or argue at the top of their lungs on some yes/no, black/white, point/counterpoint debate program. I mean that at ABC, CBS, NBC, the Los Angeles Times et al, a substantial proportion of the reporters who cover stories, and the editors who assign and shape those stories, should be people with conservative beliefs. The rest can continue to be what they are now: left-wingers who live under the delusion that they’re moderates.
There’s a lot more gold in the piece, but I particularly like this bit:
By hiring some conservatives to balance such bias, news outlets may begin to restore the idea that they are, in fact, news outlets, instead of, say, elite would-be opinion-makers instructing us in right thinking by manipulating reportage and distorting facts.
This guy can guest-blog for me any time.
Also worth highlighting is a piece by Times contributing editor Gregory Rodriguez, titled Race Is His Magic Shield. It argues that Antonio Villaraigosa’s ethnicity “has shielded him from tough questions about his character.”
But it doesn’t end there. There is a thought-provoking piece by Victor Davis Hanson on immigration. Carol Platt Liebau has a piece advocating the revision of Special Order 40. There is the aforementioned Jack Dunphy op-ed on William Bratton. And there is a piece titled Note to You Liberal Weenies — Yes, the Right Really Can Write, by Brian Anderson, the author of South Park Conservatives: The Revolt Against Liberal Media Bias.
Don’t get me wrong. Today’s Sunday Opinion section is not a big wet kiss to the far right. There is a piece arguing for the eradication of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. There are excerpts from a 2004 speech by the late labor leader Miguel Contreras. There is a rather flip piece deriding President Bush’s Social Security proposals. Victor Davis Hanson’s piece on immigration is certain to offend those who are doctrinaire on the issue of illegal immigration. And there are always the predictably leftist editorials.
But there is some real balance this week, with a substantial helping of truly conservative (or just plain sensible) ideas that are well expressed by articulate and credible writers.
A job well done.
P.S. I also like the idea of having Mark Alan Stamaty’s cartoon begin on the front page of the section, and crawl along the bottom of the pages towards the back. It’s especially cute when the comic hits the editorial page.
Last year, LAPD Police Chief William Bratton praised pseudonymous officer Jack Dunphy:
“I wish he’d come forward and identify himself, so I could throw him into my press office,” Bratton says. “My sense is that Dunphy reflects in a more articulate and thoughtful way the sentiments of the average L.A. cop.”
Bratton will probably change his tune after reading Dunphy’s op-ed in today’s L.A. Times:
Soon after Mayor James K. Hahn appointed Bratton to head the LAPD, officers began hearing that the chief had turned his office into a shrine to his own ego, filled with photographs of himself posing with movie stars, authors, politicians and various other figures from New York’s elite social circles.
No matter, I said. As long as Bratton provided the type of leadership here that he did in New York, his cops wouldn’t care if he had lunch at the Polo Lounge every day. One person, however, offered a warning: “It’s all about him,” he said. “He’ll sell out the cops in a minute if it gets him his next job.”
I refused to accept this assessment of the man I welcomed as the long-awaited savior of the LAPD. I have since apologized for doubting that critic.
This is not the first time that Dunphy has lit into Bratton. For example, in this National Review Online piece from April, Dunphy wrote that Bratton “apparently left his spine in New York when he packed his bags and came west. . . . If Antonio Villaraigosa goes on to defeat James Hahn in May and then forces Bratton out, his departure will be greeted by yawns, if not cheers, from the men and women of the LAPD.”
I wonder if Chief Bratton still thinks that Dunphy “reflects . . . the sentiments of the average L.A. cop.” In any event, I bet he still wishes Dunphy would “come forward and identify himself” — but not so he can throw him into his press office . . .