Wednesday, January 11, 2006

CNN: Bias on Supreme Court Justices

Go to this page, and scroll down and click on “Gallery: Current justices.”

You’ll see several examples of mainstream media bias on the Court and the judges.

For example, according to CNN, the court has no liberal judges.

Stevens is described as “. . . independent and unpredictable. He does not vote consistently in favor of either individual rights or the authority of the government. Instead, he focuses on the facts in each case and considers how the Court’s decisions will affect society.” Sounds good. How would it sound to say “he’s a liberal?”

When CNN turns to Clarence Thomas, they say little about Thomas, and merely compare him unfavorably to his predecessor, liberal Thurgood Marshall:
When it turns to Marshall was the first African-American on the court and had been a key figure in the fight to dismantle racial segregation and discrimination. Thomas has a far different philosophy and has opposed affirmative action and other programs for minorities.
Stephen G. Breyer is described by saying:
He has frequently taken issue with Justice Antonin Scalia’s strict interpretations of the Constitution, preferring to take a more pragmatic view that considers how each decision would affect individuals.
Yep, for liberals, it’s “how decisions would affect individuals.” At least, the individuals they happen to favor. They don’t much care about whites who lose a job to a black because of affirmative action, for example.

David H. Souter is actually described as a “moderate:”
Souter quickly established himself as a moderate, siding with centrist Justice Sandra Day O’Connor 91 percent of the time in his first term. Since then, he has developed his own voice and often leads the way for his moderate colleagues.
The blurb on Ginsburg is almost entirely devoted to praising her contributions to women’s rights. She is described as “Thurgood Marshall of gender equity law.”

The closest that CNN is willing to come to admitting that there is a liberal block is to say that “As a justice, Ginsburg tends to side with Justices David Souter, John Paul Stevens and Steven Breyer.”

But what that “side” stands for is not described beyond saying they are “moderate” and care about how decisions would affect individuals.

Note also that the conservative justices (Scalia and Thomas) have unflattering photos, and the moderate Sandra Day O’Connor (now in favor with liberals because of a string of recent liberal rulings) as well as Stevens and Souter have flattering photos.

Roberts (not really known to be a conservative yet) gets a good photo. Ginsburg is pretty much hopeless, in terms of having a flattering photo taken.

This all reminds us of how Time Magazine, which color coded the justices as “liberal” or “conservative” and “moderate” or “staunch” coded all the liberal justices as “moderate,” and the the conservative justices as “staunch.”

And indeed, for people in the mainstream media, being a liberal virtually all the time makes one “moderate.”

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