The NYT retreats, incoherently, on Miller.

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Oct. 24 2005 1:58 PM

The NYT Retreats, Incoherently

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Somebody's wrong:  Survey USA's robo-poll taken in mid-September showed Arnold Schwarzenegger's anti-gerrymandering initiative up by 22 points. The Public Policy Institute of California poll, taken a few days earlier, had the same initiative failing by 37. That's a 59 point discrepancy! ... Survey USA has Schwarzenegger's other initiatives also doing much better than reported in either the PPIC poll or the competing Field Poll, according to Mystery Pollster. They're all serious polling outfits, notes MP--the difference is in the wording of the questions. ... MP also says the best reporting on the pollsterfight is not in the LAT but in the relatively obscure North County Times, where William Finn Bennett has fun describing how PPIC and Field insist on confronting voters with the actual, impenetrable ballot language, while Survey USA arguably oversimplifies. ... kf concludes the truth lies somewhere in between! 10:50 A.M.

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It's Getting Webby! Petrelis notes that Judith Miller's latest response to NYT Public Editor Byron Calame has been posted on Calame's Web site. ... The ledes: a) Yes, there's a fact dispute between Miller and NYT Managing Editor Jill Abramson, not some other mystery editor. ...b)  Miller seems mystified by exactly what new development has caused her own paper turn on her. She has a point.   ... c) If she keeps on not going quietly like this the paper's not going to be big enough for her and #1 editor Bill Keller. And it's not clear that Miller's protector, Times publisher Pinch Sulzberger, can afford to favor her in that fight. ...

P.S.--Note to Miller: The left hates you. The right isn't going to come to your rescue. You have no base of support except the man at the top. Just like Harriet Miers! It's not enough for her and it's not enough for you. ... 2:09 A.M.

How the Pros Do It:

"Plame's annoyingly egomaniacal husband, Joseph Wilson ... " -- kausfiles

"A prideful man who enjoys the spotlight, Joseph Wilson ... " -- Newsweek.

That's why they pay Barry, Isikoff and Hosenball the big bucks. ... P.S.: Their piece is actually an excellent trot for those who only have time for one backgrounder on the Plame investigation. 12:31 A.M. 

An Item to Use Or Lose:  There's an obvious parallel between Bush's nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court and California Gov. Edmund "Jerry" Brown's notorious appointment of his Agriculture Secretary, Rose Bird, to be Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court in 1977.  Bird, like Miers, was a crony of the man who appointed her--she'd started out with Brown as a volunteer chauffeur on his campaign. Bird, like Miers, had never been a judge, but would have been a relatively non-controversial appointment to a lower judicial position, even a lower position on the state Supreme Court. But Brown made her Chief Justice, a post that was far more powerful on California's Supreme Court than the equivalent position on the U.S. Supreme Court (in part because California's Chief Justice controlled a large central staff).  The Bird appointment was a disaster politically--she was voted out of office in the 1986 "retention" election, along with two other relatively liberal justices. Jerry Brown's political career arguably never quite recovered from the bad vibe left by the irresponsibility of the Bird pick. [Brown's about to be elected state Attorney General--ed. Oh, right. Well it took him a long time to recover.] ...

The difference is that Bird was controversial because she was a liberal judicial activist, while Miers is controversial because she's seen as too non-ideological, at least for the right. And Bird, as a cabinet official, was more of a known quantity (although not all of the knowledge was favorable). But there are obvious similarities in the thinking that went into the appointment--including, I think, a misguided sense of gallantry, as in "I [Bush, Brown] know how good this woman is and I'm going to do a great and just thing for her." And, yes, I suspect this sense of gallantry is non-gender-neutral. A man would be less likely to make the same judgment error about another man. [Does that mean the appointment is in a sense sexist?-ed. You said that.]

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