Kavanaugh vs. Kagan: NYT’s double standard covering SCOTUS confirmation hearings

Kavanaugh vs. Kagan: NYT’s double standard covering SCOTUS confirmation hearings

Meet the New York Times. It is a newspaper situated in New York City but read in cities across the country and the world.

Its hobbies include publishing anonymous op-ed hit pieces reputedly written by senior administration officials in presidential administrations that begin with the letter and end with P.

In its spare time, the Times also looks for ways of slanting its reporting to conform with the progressive views of its editors and publisher, then denies having done so.

As an illustration of the Times’s bias, consider these two headlines. One is from an article dated June 29, 2010. The other is from an article dated Sept. 5, 2018. Each of the articles covers the confirmation hearings for a nominee for Supreme Court justice, a lifetime appointment.

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The first article pertains to the confirmation hearings of Elena Kagan, who was nominated by then-President Barack Obama. The second pertains to the ongoing confirmation hearings of Brett Kavanaugh, who was nominated by President Donald Trump.

Both articles focus on the same topic — viz., the nominee’s refusal to answer procedural questions or those pertaining to legal theory, a precedent that goes back many generations. One of the headlines reads “Nominee Ducks Questions on Presidential Powers and Subpoenas” where the word nominee is a placeholder for one of the names Kagan or Kavanaugh. The other headline reads “Nominee Follows Precedent by Offering Few Opinions.”

Can you guess which headline carries which name? Here’s the opening paragraph of each of the articles to help you decide.

June 29, 2010: Elena Kagan deflected questions about her own views on gun rights and abortion during her Supreme Court confirmation hearings on Tuesday, instead describing Supreme Court precedents. She declined to say whether terrorism suspects must be warned of the right to remain silent, saying the issue was “quite likely to get to the courts.”

Sept. 5, 2018: Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, on Wednesday dodged direct questions about whether the Constitution would allow Mr. Trump to use the powers of the presidency to thwart the Russia collusion and obstruction investigations that are swirling around his administration.

In July, the Times’s publishers,  A.G. Sulzberger, met privately with President Trump at the White House. According to the Associated Press, Sulzberger “’implored’ … Trump … to reconsider his broad attacks on journalists, calling the president’s anti-press rhetoric ‘not just divisive but increasingly dangerous.’”

Sulzberger also told the AP:

“I warned that it was putting lives at risk, that it was undermining the democratic ideals of our nation, and that it was eroding one of our country’s greatest exports: a commitment to free speech and a free press,” the publisher said.

The Times publisher clearly believes that the “democratic ideals of our nation” and the “free press” are best served by a newspaper that is so driven by partisan ideology that it will twist even the most trivial of reports to reflect its ideology. And somehow the paper of record thinks that it’s Trump who has the problem.

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Ben Bowles

Ben Bowles

Ben Bowles is a freelance writer and regular contributor to "Liberty Unyielding."


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