Did Bush Team Head Fake Press on Roberts?
Howie Kurtz reports that some reporters are a bit miffed that they were led to believe someone other than John Roberts would be appointed to the Supreme Court.
Spun Silly (WaPo)
Did the Bush team put out misinformation on that crazy Tuesday to steer reporters away from John Roberts? We can’t answer the question definitively because the journalists involved have a Matt Cooper problem — they promised their sources anonymity, regardless of motive. But I can tell you that some of them are ticked and feeling misled.
It all could be very innocent — the typical Beltway gossip game where reporters trade information with supposedly wired sources who don’t really know but like to give the impression that they do. Then the media types blurt what they’ve gleaned on television and online and — d’oh ! — look silly when they’re wrong.
Why would the Bushies have bothered? The deafening buzz that the president had picked Edith Clement for the high court had a bunch of reporters preparing pieces on her instead of researching the legal record of the not-much-buzzed-about John Roberts. Plus, the head fake preserved the element of surprise for Bush’s prime-time announcement.
Consider: The reporters in question relied on outside Republican advisers who work closely with the White House. These advisers, at least one of whom is said to feel used, were saying it was Clement. But the administration had asked Roberts to return from London for a possible announcement the day before , on Monday. Maybe the president was just keeping his options open. But at some point Tuesday Clement got an official call saying her services would not be required — and Bush offered Roberts the job at 12:35 — yet the it’s-Clement-chatter continued until late in the afternoon. All this may have been terribly unfair to her.
An alternate theory is that Bush, for some reason, changed his mind that day, leaving the advisers leaning the wrong way. However you slice it, the administration had a good rollout.
Perhaps the leaker in question was not authorized to make the leak and was not as in-the-know as he portrayed himself?