Bench Memos

Re: LA Times’s Bogus Statistics on Confirmation Rate

Eight days ago, I explained in detail that the assertion by a Los Angeles Times reporter in an August 30 article that President George W. Bush had 87% of his early judicial nominees “confirmed during the first 18 months of [his] administration” was wildly wrong.  I also showed that, contrary to the reporter’s charge of a massive 40-point gap, there was no meaningful difference between the pace at which President Obama’s lower-court nominees were being confirmed and the pace at which President Bush’s early nominees had been confirmed.  The following morning—that is, seven days ago—I e-mailed my post to the reporter, Carol J. Williams, and highlighted the fact that the very expert (Russell Wheeler of the Brookings Institution) whom she had quoted on other points had documented that Obama nominees were being confirmed at the same pace that Bush nominees had been.

Yet eight days later Williams’s article remains uncorrected—and her wild error continues to be quoted and credited.

Now it’s of course possible that Williams didn’t read my e-mail (though I’ll note that she has previously consulted me).  But it doesn’t seem possible that the editors of the Times are unaware of her error:  As Patterico pointed out two weeks ago, the Times’s own follow-on editorial substituted a 60% figure for Williams’s 87%.  (I’ll also note that Patterico twice—in his first post on the matter and in his post highlighting my post—urged his readers to contact the Times about the error.)

So it would appear that the Times lacks either the integrity or the efficiency to correct such a basic error.

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