On July 27, 2005, after publishing this post about a misleading David Savage story on John Roberts, I sent this e-mail to the L.A. Times Readers’ Representative:
David Savage’s story on John Roberts this morning (7-27) titled “Some Roberts Documents Released” says:
The White House opened to the public Tuesday thousands of pages from the files of a young assistant attorney general but declared off-limits all the files from the years when John G. Roberts Jr., now a Supreme Court nominee, was a top government lawyer urging the repeal of the Roe vs. Wade abortion ruling.
No one on Capitol Hill had asked for the Reagan-era files.
I am having difficulty reconciling this statement with one published in the New York Times on Monday:
The Bush administration plans to release documents from Judge John G. Roberts’s tenure in the White House counsel’s office in the mid-1980’s and his earlier job working for the attorney general, but will not make public papers covering the four years he spent as principal deputy solicitor general starting in 1989, two senior administration officials said Monday.
The decision fulfilled a request for disclosure of the documents made on Monday by Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, which will hold the confirmation hearings for Judge Roberts, President Bush’s choice to fill the Supreme Court seat being vacated by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, said the senator’s spokesman, Bill Reynolds.
These seem in conflict, unless I’m missing something.
It’s July 30, and I’ve heard nothing. I have forwarded the earlier e-mail to the Readers’ Representative again (and to editor Dean Baquet) with this note:
Could you please respond to me regarding my e-mail of July 27 (which I am forwarding another copy of below)? I want to know whether Arlen Specter’s office requested the documents already released by the Bush Administration re John Roberts, as reported by the N.Y. Times on Monday. These are documents that the L.A. Times said Wednesday had not been requested by anyone on Capitol Hill.
I have seen no correction and have received no response. I’m sure the issue could be resolved by a simple query to Sen. Specter’s office.
In the meantime, if I am overlooking something or otherwise barking up the wrong tree, please let me know in the comments. The quotes look inconsistent to me, but maybe I’m missing something.
UPDATE: Via commenter Ed at Oh, That Liberal Media comes this link to Scott McClellan’s comments at a recent press conference:
Q: If they’ll answer the question. Yesterday, you suggested that — you determined — you made the release of these documents possible after discussions with Senator Specter. Did Senator Specter explicitly request these documents, or were they offered in conversation?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, and I never — no, in fact, I never said such a thing. I know that there are some reports in the paper that someone in his office may have said that, and that appears to have been a mischaracterization. But we did talk to him before releasing that information, and he appreciated the — he expressed his appreciation for the fact that we were going to expedite the release of these documents.
I am interested to see what Sen. Specter’s office says. If his office agrees, then perhaps the NYT owes the correction, rather than the LAT.