L.A. Times hearts Priscilla Owen

Profiling Bush's judicial nominee, the paper does not allow a single critic to be heard in the article.


Eric Boehlert
May 23, 2005 3:33PM (UTC)

We realize it's a couple days old, but War Room couldn't let this piece pass without comment. It's a Los Angeles Times article from late last week that profiles newsmaker Texas Supreme Court Justice Priscilla Owen. Her stalled nomination to the federal bench is triggering the nuclear option showdown in the Senate this week.

Considering 90 percent of Bush's nominees to the bench have been confirmed, there must be something about Owen's judicial record that raised serious concerns among Democrats in the Senate who have balked at appointing her to the bench. For instance, the fact they view her as a right-wing judicial activist who has a proven history of trying to create law from the bench.

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But Times readers were kept in the dark about any of that because in its 1,160-word profile of Owen the Times did not quote a single critic of the judge. No wonder the Times headline writer came up with "Judge Seen as Conservative, Fair" because anyone reading the article would come to the exact same (and skewed) conclusion.

In all, the Times article included quotes from five people and each one of them expressed support for Owen and her nomination. We don't expect that type of one-sided sourcing from a serious newspaper such as the Los Angeles Times.

Here's a complete list of experts the Times tracked down, along with a flavor of their pro-Owen spin:

Republican Texas Chief Justice Thomas Phillips: "She is a thorough and careful judge."

Former Republican Texas Supreme Court Justice Craig Enoch: "It's fair to say she is conservative, but it is also true the electorate in this state wanted judges who will carefully follow the law."

Linda S. Eads, a law professor at Southern Methodist University: "I never read an opinion where I thought she distorted the law."

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President Bush, reacting to Owen's nomination being voted down by Democrats in 2002: "I don't appreciate it one bit, and neither do the American people."

Pastor Jeff Black of the St. Barnabas the Encourager Evangelical Church in Round Rock, Texas: "She is very quiet and conscientious."


Eric Boehlert

Eric Boehlert, a former senior writer for Salon, is the author of "Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush."

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