Conservatives Miered in Vicious Attacks

Harriet Miers was the victim of conservative "attacks," according to the lead story and its two headlines in Friday's New York Times, and another story advances a theme of vicious and unfair attacks against Miers.

"Bush's Court Choice Ends Bid After Attack By Conservatives -- Too Many Doubts," is from Elisabeth Bumiller and Carl Hulse. The headline on the jump page is similar: "Bush's Nominee for Supreme Court Ends Bid After Persistent Attacks by Conservatives."

Reporters Bumiller and Hulse first go to left-wing Sen. Ted Kennedy for a quote lambasting the "extreme right wing": "'The issue of whether the documents were the make-or-break issue is really a red herring,' said Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts. 'The extreme right wing of the Republican Party have effectively undermined this nomination. They have a litmus test, and Harriet Miers didn't pass that test.'"

The Times lets the Democratic minority leader join the fun: "Democrats, who had remained largely silent as the conservative opposition to Ms. Miers grew, braced for the prospect of a highly conservative replacement choice as the administration seeks a candidate who can better unify Republicans. They said the failure of the nomination illustrated how captive Mr. Bush was to the right wing of his party. 'The only voices heard in this process were the far right,' said Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, who had initially suggested Ms. Miers to Mr. Bush as a potential justice."

There's more sympathy for Miers as a victim of "vicious criticism" and "ruthless attacks" from conservatives in a story from Lynette Clemetson and Ralph Blumenthal ("Supporters of Miers Wince At How She Was Treated; She Seems to Bear Up Well").

"Through weeks of ceaseless, often vicious, criticism of everything from her intellect and credentials to her makeup and wardrobe, several friends said Ms. Miers had maintained the quiet focus and nearly blind optimism that, up to now, helped propel her career. Those close to her, though, are less reticent, blaming conservative critics for what they call ruthless attacks and the White House for a flailing defense."

The paper uses some highly unflattering language to describe Miers' opponents: "Over the past three and a half weeks, as Washington insiders and influence peddlers aligned against her, Ms. Miers sought reinforcement outside Washington, from old law school buddies, legal partners and friends from church."

And finally, Friday's lead editorial, "Harriet Miers Exits Stage Right," recycles the self-satisfied liberal cliché of Republicans as closed-minded and fearful: "A Supreme Court justice should have an open mind and a capacity to grow. Far-right Republicans live in such fear of this notion that they were not soothed by the White House's inappropriate harping on Ms. Miers's evangelical Christian faith, or Mr. Bush's peculiar assurance that she would never change her mind, not even over decades."

For more on liberal bias in the NYT, visit TimesWatch.

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