If George W. Bush and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist accede to Sen. Arlen Specter’s hopes of becoming the next Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, they will be betraying a very large group of voters who re-elected the president.

Even before Specter shot off his mouth to an Associated Press reporter and warned the president to avoid naming pro-life justices to the Supreme Court, he was way out of the mainstream of his party, a radical on the issue of abortion even by the standards of the other party.

He was the worst possible choice for chairman of the important Senate Judiciary Committee.

Then came that interview with Lara Jakes Jordan.

He is alleged to have said: “When you talk about judges who would change the right of a woman to choose, overturn Roe v. Wade, I think that is unlikely. The president is well aware of what happened, when a number of his nominees were sent up, with the filibuster … And I would expect the president to be mindful of the considerations which I am mentioning.”

I believe he said something very close to that, though he denies it now.

“Contrary to press accounts, I did not warn the president about anything” and would “never apply any litmus test” on abortion, Specter said in a statement yesterday.

The problem with Specter now is that he’s compromised. He can’t be trusted by either side in the debate at this point. And that’s a good reason for the Republican Senate to look elsewhere for a chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

But there is more to this story than meets the eye.

It isn’t only Specter who should lose his job. The reporter who broke the story has no business covering politics for the Associated Press. She has betrayed a partisan ideological agenda in stories over and over again.

If you doubt what I am saying, all you need to do is Google the name Lara Jakes Jordan and check out her screeds that somehow pass as news reports. I said it before, when she set up Specter’s colleague Rick Santorum years ago in an ambush interview. I’ll say it again now. She is one of those undercover political activists disguised as a reporter.

Lara Jakes Jordan is married to veteran Democratic Party operative Jim Jordan, the former executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and former manager of Sen. John Kerry’s presidential bid.

Would you trust her political coverage if you knew that? And her political activism is not reserved exclusively to the news reports she writes for the AP.

In January of last year, Mrs. Jordan was one of the signatories on a letter to her bosses at the AP attacking the news organization for “rolling back diversity” by not extending benefits to domestic partners.

In a symbolic move, the signatories to the letter returned key chains AP management gave them to “celebrate” its corporate diversity. The key chains carried the slogan: “AP Diversity: Many Views, One Vision.”

Do you get the picture?

I’ve been in the daily news business for 25 years. When I got started a quarter century ago, there was an old newsroom saying that went like this: “I don’t care if you sleep with elephants as long as you don’t cover the circus.”

Mrs. Jordan violated that old newsroom ethic. She abdicated her right to cover the circus because she was sleeping with an elephant – or, in this case, a donkey.

Yes, by all means, Arlen Specter has to go. He’s right to apologize for the statements he made. He should never have been confiding in a politically motivated reporter with a big ax to grind. He’s a disgrace to the Senate.

But he’s not the only one who should be apologizing. The largest news-gathering organization in the world, the Associated Press, owes the American people an apology for continuing to assign Lara Jakes Jordan to politically sensitive stories.

If you would like to call Sen. Bill Frist’s office to let him know where
you stand on Arlen Specter as chairman of the Senate Judiciary
Committee, his number is (202) 224-3344.

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