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Monday, January 16, 2006

AP Story is a Good Lesson on Slanted Reporting

As a teacher, I couldn't ask for a better lesson on slanted reporting. Last Wednesday, democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, led by Ted Kennedy, spent a good part of the day assailing Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito over his early 1970's membership in a group called Concerned Alumni of Princeton. After a constant democrat barrage of insinuations that Alito is a racist and sexist, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina came to Altio's defense.

Giving him the opportunity to directly address the accusation that democrats had been implying, Graham asked Alito, "Are you really a closet bigot?"

Alito answered, "I'm not any kind of a bigot, I'm not."

Graham then followed up with this:

No, sir, you're not. And you know why I believe that? Not because you just said it -- but that's a good enough reason, because you seem to be a decent, honorable man. I have got reams of quotes from people who have worked with you, African American judges...glowing quotes about who you are, the way you've lived your life; law clerks, men and women, black and white, your colleagues who say that Sam Alito, whether I agree with him or not, is a really good man.

Graham, after then condemning the tactic of guilt by association that democrats had been employing during the hearings, made a direct apology to Alito for the verbal abuse that he had been made to endure.

Judge Alito, I am sorry that you've had to go through this. I am sorry that your family has had to sit here and listen to this.

It was during all this that Alito's wife, Martha-Ann Bomgardner, began to cry and left the room. Her distress was obviously caused, not by Graham's defense of and apology to her husband, but by the prior personal attacks launched by democrats against her husband.

However, an Associated Press report on Wednesday gives the reader the impression that it was Senator Graham who caused the distress.

Martha-Ann Bomgardner, who had sat behind her husband for hours of questioning over several days, left as her husband was being questioned by Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

"Judge Alito, I am sorry that you've had to go through this. I am sorry that your family has had to sit here and listen to this," said Graham.

Moments earlier, the senator had asked Alito, "Are you really a closet bigot?" The nominee said no, and Graham said, "No sir, you're not."

Accompanying the article is an AP photo of an obviously distressed Martha-Ann Bomgardner, with the following caption:

Martha-Ann Alito reacts during the third day of the confirmation hearings for her husband Judge Samuel Alito as Associate Justice on the Supreme Court on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2006. Mrs. Alito reacted to the apology by Republican Senate Judiciary Committee member Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. for the contentious nature of questioning during the hearing.

The only hint that democrats might have had any role in upsetting Alito's wife comes in the second half of the article where it is briefly mentioned that there were "withering questions" from several democrats, and that "Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah suggested that Alito's wife was upset with the comments of Democrats."

However, if one reads the caption that goes with the picture and reads the first half of the report, the clear impression is that Senator Graham was the one badgering Alito.

This article slants the story to convey the impression the writer wants to convey. It is an impression that is far from truthful, and the result is an article that is an excellent example of what journalism should not be.


Blogger Malott said...

I noticed there was no author's name attached to this story. I think this example of slanted journalism needs a name.

1:35 PM  

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