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Agenda Journalism at the Los Angeles Times

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From this morning’s Los Angeles Times:

WASHINGTON ‘” Perhaps no group of supporters has been courted as assiduously by the Bush administration as Christian conservatives.

And no senator is closer to this group than Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), who is exploring a run for president with the help of some of them.

So it was a slap in the face to the White House when Brownback, after three days of lobbying by White House aides to persuade leaders among evangelical conservatives to support Supreme Court nominee Harriet E. Miers, emerged from an hourlong meeting with her Thursday and said he was prepared to vote against her.

“I still think there’s a lot to learn about this nominee,” Brownback said, citing doubts about Miers’ positions on issues such as abortion and gay marriage. “I must do my own due diligence, and I can’t say that all these issues are overcome in a one-hour meeting.”

Asked if he was prepared to vote against Miers, Brownback said: “Yes.”

Asked if he was prepared to vote against her even if President Bush pleaded with him directly, Brownback replied: “Yes.”

Did Senator Brownback answer those questions that way? Absolutely. Did the Times order its story so as to convey a much more certain sense of Brownback’s position on Miers than actually exists? Absolutely.

Here’s my interview with Senator Brownback from yesterday afternoon.

In this interview, as with all the interviews he did yesterday, Brownback conveys caution and the possibility that he could vote against Miers, along with the possibility that he might vote for her. That position didn’t serve the Times’ agenda, so they chapped his exchanges up until they found a grabber.

Nice work, that, but don’t call it reporting.


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