What Fresh Hell Is This?

May 11, 2009

Trib Editorial Echo Chamber Is At It Again

Every Monday Richard Mellon Scaife's Editorial Board over there at his Tribune-Review publishes something it calls "Media Monday." The page describes itself as:
[S]ome of the latest outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes from or about the liberal media, courtesy of the Media Research Center...
I know we've touched on this before, but the Media Research Center is also partially owned by Richard Mellon Scaife, through the Sarah Scaife Foundation, which he controls.

Nice how that's nice and circular, isn't it?

Anyway, today they join the conservative smear campaign against Judge Sonia Sotomayer, possible Supreme Court nominee. Here's what they write:
Some "centrist":

ABC's George Stephanopoulos: "I would say the leading candidate (for the Supreme Court), if there is one, is Judge Sonia Sotomayor. She's on the federal appeals court, Second U.S. Court of Appeals. She would be not only a woman, but the first Hispanic on the court. She's built up a strong centrist record on the court."

Judge Sotomayor's 2005 comments at Duke University: "Court of appeals is where policy is made. And I know ... I know this is on tape and I should never say that, because we don't make law. I know (laughter from the crowd). Okay. I know. I'm not promoting it and I'm not advocating it (More laughter). I'm, you know -- OK (Sotomayor laughs)."

Sounds pretty damning, doesn't it?

Until, of course, you look at the context. Which, if Scaife's editorial board even bothered to look, they choose not to tell you - the reading public. Not that they'd want stupid things like facts get in the way of a good smear.

Mediamatters.org is on this one. 4 Days ago, on the 7th of May, they published this debunking smackdown of a similar Fox "News" story (and so I am surprised that Scaife's board didn't just move on to complaining about Wanda Sykes or Obama's Dijon mustard).

Their summary:
Fox News host Jane Skinner asserted that Judge Sonia Sotomayor "is coming under some fire for making some comments that were recorded on tape a while back, saying that it's her job, really, to make policy from the bench." In fact, Sotomayor did not say "it's her job" as a federal circuit court judge to "make policy from the bench."
In the piece, Mediamatters prints out the whole paragraph from which the MRC (and therefore the Scaife's board) takes its snippet. In it she's responding to a question about the difference between being a clerk at a District Court and the Court of appeals. Here's where they take their snippet:
The saw is that if you're going into academia, you're going to teach, or as Judge Lucero just said, public interest law, all of the legal defense funds out there, they're looking for people with court of appeals experience, because it is -- court of appeals is where policy is made. And I know -- and I know this is on tape and I should never say that because we don't make law, I know. OK, I know. I'm not promoting it, and I'm not advocating it, I'm -- you know. OK.
And here is her explanation of that. It's the very next sentence, by the way:
Having said that, the court of appeals is where, before the Supreme Court makes the final decision, the law is percolating -- its interpretation, its application. And Judge Lucero is right. I often explain to people, when you're on the district court, you're looking to do justice in the individual case. So you are looking much more to the facts of the case than you are to the application of the law because the application of the law is non-precedential, so the facts control. On the court of appeals, you are looking to how the law is developing, so that it will then be applied to a broad class of cases. And so you're always thinking about the ramifications of this ruling on the next step in the development of the law. [emphasis added.]
Oh, so that's what she meant by "policy."

To read the Scaife screed, you'd've thought she meant that the Court of Appeals just made stuff up.

And I bet that's what the Trib's Editorial Board wants you to think.

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