WASHINGTON—Accuracy in Media (AIM), the nation’s oldest media watchdog group, warned today that the liberal media will intensify their campaign against Bush Supreme Court nominee John Roberts now that The Washington Post has reported that he doesn’t have much regard for the feelings of the liberal press. Roberts is reported to have told the Justice Department in a 1982 memo that it should follow the Constitution and not “kowtow” to the likes of Anthony Lewis, then an influential liberal columnist for The New York Times. Roberts ridiculed the idea that the government should take a certain position because it would be popular with people like Lewis. “NO!,” Roberts wrote on the memo.
“What a breath of fresh air when it comes to the power of the press,” declared AIM Editor Cliff Kincaid. “This was an official who wanted to do the right thing rather than please a New York Times columnist. But Roberts’ words of disdain for a major liberal press figure could come back to haunt him. The Roberts comments may be perceived by the press as too hostile to their interests and even grounds for his rejection for a seat on the Court. In this day and age, members of the press are power brokers, not just reporters of the news. They will hold these comments against the nominee.”
The Post story, the first of many that are anticipated to target the nominee’s personal views, concerned GOP-sponsored bills in Congress that would have stripped the Supreme Court of its jurisdiction over abortion, busing and school prayer cases. Roberts opposed the position of then-Assistant Attorney General Theodore B. Olson that the bills were unconstitutional. Olson had argued that opposing the bills would “be perceived as a courageous and highly principled position, especially in the press.”
The Post reported, “Roberts drew a bracket around the paragraph, underlined the words ‘especially in the press,’ and wrote in the margin: ‘Real courage would be to read the Constitution as it should be read and not kowtow to the Tribes, Lewises and Brinks!’” The other two names were Harvard Law School professor Laurence H. Tribe and then-American Bar Association President David R. Brink, who opposed the bills.
Accuracy In Media (AIM) is a non-profit, grassroots citizens watchdog of the news media that critiques botched and bungled news stories and sets the record straight on important issues that have received slanted coverage.