Thursday, September 29, 2005

The NY Times failed final attempt to slam John Roberts.

The New York Times was forced to publish a correction where they claimed John Roberts authored a memorandum on libel law. Since you have to be registered to see it, here is the correction:

"Judge John G. Roberts Jr., nominated to be chief justice of the United States, was not the author of an unsigned memorandum on libel law that was the focus of an article published in The New York Times yesterday. The Times erroneously attributed it to him.

Bruce Fein, a Washington lawyer who was general counsel of the Federal Communications Commission in the Reagan administration, said yesterday that he wrote the memorandum, a caustic critique of New York Times v. Sullivan, the 1964 Supreme Court decision that revolutionized American libel law, and of the role played by the press in society."

Basically the Times made a big deal out of Roberts supposedly slamming the 1964 Supreme Court decision that revolutionized American libel law, and of the role played by the press in society. The article from yesterday said the following regarding the memo that the Times was falsely attributing to Roberts:

"The critique was vigorous, brilliantly written and informed by a deep hostility toward the press,"

The article went on to print Roberts written response on that specific case to Schumer where Roberts wrote that the law,"is a precedent of the court, and I would start with it in any case implicating this area of the law."

In quoting the memo (the one actually written by Fein) went on to say that the decision was "profoundly flawed." The Times also printed this excerpt from the memo:

"by crowning the media with virtual absolute immunity for falsely assailing public officials," the Sullivan ruling "obstructs the ability of the president and other public officials to recruit talented and loyal supporters."

The Times went on to interview different legal experts about their opinion of the memo who were astonished (of course!) at Roberts supposedly wanting to relax the law that allows the press to print what they wish about public officials, even if it later turns out to be false.

In a nutshell (to me anyway) The Times was having a fit thinking that Roberts would relax a law that wouldn't allow them to go with a story about public officials that was FALSE (but they didn't KNOW it was false at the time, of course). The law gives them immunity from being sued (by having to prove malice).

The Times was trying to do two things here. First make Roberts look like he was lying to Shumer about his belief in the law as precendent. Second, to send "chills" down the spine for those who believe so deeply in "freedom of the press." They were trying to strike a big blow before the vote, in other words. You know, give some Democrats a "reason" to vote no.

It is highly ironic that the very law that the Times was having a fit about FALSELY accuses Roberts of a memo he didn't actually write.