Not that anyone needed more evidence that the so-called "mainstream media" suffers from a liberal bias. But if we did, we would only have to look so far as the recent coverage of President George W. Bush's choice to be the next justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.
Take, for example, the lead sentence in a story published by The Washington Post on the front page of Sunday's New Year's edition: "During 15 years as an appeals court judge, Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr. has been highly sympathetic to prosecutors, skeptical of immigrants trying to avoid deportation, and supportive of a lower wall between church and state."
Or, take the even more inflammatory beginning to a report published by The New York Times on Christmas Day: "If Samuel A. Alito Jr. had been on the Supreme Court back in January , Ronald Rompilla might well be a dead man." The Times went on to use the capital case, later reversed by a divided 5-4 Supreme Court, to assert that "Mr. Rompilla's appeal offers a study of how Judge Alito, President Bush's nominee to the Supreme Court, has handled criminal cases that have appeared before him."
Only after four paragraphs did the Times reporter admit that "Judge Alito's opinions in criminal cases are meticulously written, with careful deference to the findings of trial court judges and juries and scrupulous determination to fit his decisions into the framework built by past cases." Only then was the reporter forced to conclude Judge Alito "hews to the rules."
Indeed, the truth of how Judge Alito's decisions compare to those of other jurists was there in both The Times and The Post -- it just wasn't in the leads. As The Times reporter explained after his breathless beginning, "it is not clear that [Judge Alito] stands out: In appeals of criminal convictions generally, defendants face a steep uphill battle. Nationally, just 5.6 percent of such appeals result in some kind of reversal, according to the federal Office of Court Administration." Or, as The Post writers reported 14 paragraphs into their "story": "Overall, the opinions Alito wrote are largely devoid of impassioned rhetoric or broad philosophical assertions. He grounds his views in close readings of legal precedents, statutes and government regulations. Of the cases The Post examined, Alito upheld the ruling of the lower court about half the time, which is typical of appeals judges nationally." Apparently, if the reader wants to know more than the left-wing inspired lead, a reader has to keep on reading.
Then again, sometimes even making it through the entire story doesn't help. The coverage of Judge Alito's nomination has also exposed that liberal bias all too often results in the media breaking "news" when there isn't any to report.
Look at those stories published by The Times and The Post again.
Is there anyone in America surprised that a judge appointed by President Bush would uphold the death penalty? Or is a front page story really necessary to inform the public that a Republican appointee believes in law-and-order, opposes illegal immigration and supports religious freedom?
Indeed, this problem of breaking common knowledge was best highlighted when the Associated Press and CNN reported two days before Christmas about the "revelation" of a memo written by Alito, then a Reagan Justice Department lawyer, advising the administration how best to undermine and eventually overturn Roe v. Wade.
Unfortunately for the AP and CNN, not only was Alito simply following Reagan administration policy in producing the document, but the memo had already been released and in the news three weeks before the AP and CNN "broke" their stories. Thus, the mistake only confirmed the AP and CNN's blind adherence to left-wing news judgments.
You have to feel for the so-called mainstream media. They thought they would have plenty to write about once someone, anyone left the Supreme Court and President Bush finally got his opportunity to appoint someone in the mold of Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, someone politically controversial. But the much anticipated political fight never materialized primarily because the vast majority of the American public finds itself in agreement with the far more mainstream viewpoints of nominees John Roberts and Samuel Alito. This, itself, should have been no surprise since the same American majority re-elected President Bush and a Republican Congress.
So the media has been left with no controversy on which to report and nothing better to do than to try to start the fight that never began. To do so, the media hasn't had to do anything different. They just keep on reporting the news as they always have -- what's Right is wrong and what's Left is right.January 05, 2006
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