In his August 31 OpinionJournal.com column, Wall Street Journal columnist Manuel Miranda claimed that "[c]onservatives from all over the country" are looking to unseat Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) in the 2006 election for, among other reasons, his “surrender” in the 2004 Memogate scandal. But Miranda failed to disclose that he himself is the central figure in the scandal, having been accused of improperly accessing thousands of Democratic memos regarding Bush judicial nominees. Hatch, then-chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, joined Democratic senators in calling for a probe into the alleged malfeasance -- presumably the “surrender” to which Miranda, a former Hatch staffer, was referring.
Miranda's August 31 column, titled “Road to Redemption,” carried the subtitle: “For Sens. Hatch and [Joseph R.] Biden [D-DE], the Roberts hearings are a chance to make up for past mistakes.” Miranda went on to list some of Hatch's “mistakes” and how they may threaten his chances for reelection in 2006:
Conservatives from all over the country are flocking to him for several reasons, ranging from Mr. Hatch's broken 2000 campaign promise on embryonic stem-cell research (he now favors it) to his divisive roles on pro-life and family issues for the past three decades. Last year, after Mr. Hatch's surrender in “Memogate,” the Federalist Society had to pull a fund-raising letter with Hatch's once-coveted signature. They reasoned it would not get them the result they wanted. Next week, Hatch will be well staffed and on his best behavior.
As Media Matters for America noted, the 2004 report of Senate Sergeant-at-Arms William Pickle's investigation into Memogate “portrayed Miranda as the leader of the effort in which he instructed [junior Judiciary staffer Jason] Lundell to look through the Democratic files” [Roll Call, 3/7/05]. A criminal investigation in the case, under the direction of U.S. Attorney David Kelley of the Southern District of New York, is ongoing.
A February 6, 2004, Washington Post article reported that Pickle's probe “was launched after Sens. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) complained that lifting materials from their computer files amounted to theft. Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) joined in their request for an investigation.” The Post also reported that Hatch had conducted his own preliminary investigation into the scandal and described himself as “mortified that this improper, unethical and simply unacceptable breach of confidential files may have occurred on my watch.”
Since Miranda joined OpinionJournal.com, the Journal has obscured his role in Memogate. The “editor's note” preceding Miranda's first OpinionJournal.com column on July 20 simply noted that "[r]eaders of OpinionJournal will remember Manny from last year's Memogate scandal" and linked to a March 2004 Journal op-ed that downplayed Miranda's role in the scandal, as Media Matters documented. But the Journal also made light of the scandal in an August 18 editorial, writing: “It's too bad there's now a firewall in place on the computer system used by the Senate Judiciary Committee's Democratic staff.” It was the lack of such a firewall that allegedly permitted Miranda and others access to the Democratic files.