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Harriet Miers: Dethroned by Right Wing Media



Even as Republican operatives jump before every available microphone to swear that Harriet Miers withdrew her nomination to the Supeme Court today to protect the President's executive priviledge or heal the administration's growing rift with the right wing, let this humble media critic suggest you don't believe a word of it.

What really undid Miers, as many pundits are pointing out today, was the same right-wing focused media echo chamber that made a star of her boss.

Forget the fact that Miers current exit strategy was laid out by conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer last week. A sample line: "Finally, a way out: irreconcilable differences over documents."

It's obvious now the Miers nomination was hammered into oblivion by criticism from a variety of conservative-friendly media outlets, from the Wall Street Journal's op-ed page to Rush Limbaugh's radio show and media harpie Ann Coulter's columns.

The Center for Media and Public Affairs, a Washington D.C.-based think tank, laid out the way conservatives picked apart Miers in the media through a study called Media on Miers: Overruled By Right. Among their observations, after analyzing 305 evaluations of Miers which appeared on ABC, CBS, NBC and the A Section of the New York Times:

(CMPA's Media Director Matt Felling, a fun interview and the only white guy I know cool enough to be conversant with the full discography of New Edition, BBD, Ralph Tresvant, Johnny Gill and Bobby Brown.)

1) Three quarters of Miers evaluations came from Republican officials or conservatives, with 70 percent of GOP officials supporting her, while 78 percent of all other conservatives opposing it.

2) The New York Times, long considered a liberal bastion by conservatives, featured less Miers criticism than TV news. About 53 percent of evaluations in Times stories were positive, while conservatives outside the GOP criticized Miers by a 6 to 1 margin.

3) Barely half of Miers' evaluations in media were positive, compared to 69 percent of references to recently-confirmed chief justice John Roberts.

One of the last straws may have been a conservative group's announcement that they had created an anti-Miers TV ad and spent $250,000 to begin airing it Wednesday, funded by a coalition including high-profile Bush supporters such as David Frum and Linda Chavez.

Even conservative icon Limbaugh took aim at Miers and the Bush administration -- barely mollified by a later visit from Vice President Dick Cheney -- saying, "The main reason I don’t like this pick has nothing to do with Harriet Miers, because I don’t know her. I think the pick makes President Bush look weak. I think the pick is designed to avoid more controversy, to appease.”

Now its time for the other shoe to drop. Emboldened by their success in derailing Miers, extreme conservatives will have even higher expectations for the right wing bonafides of the next nominee. (As Limbagh pointed out in a Wall Street Journal op-ed last week, "This is no crackup (of the conservative movement). It's a crackdown."

Makes you wonder who really runs the nation's media structure, don't it?

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:34pm]


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