TNR owes Sonia Sotomayor a correction

Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

It's getting more and more clear that Jeffrey Rosen's TNR article about Sonia Sotomayor is nothing more than a hatchet job.

First we learned that Rosen wrote the piece before -- by his own admission -- he had read enough of her opinions or talked to enough people to get a "fully balanced picture of her strengths." Then we learned that Rosen misrepresented a statement by a colleague of Sotomayor in order to make her look bad. Now it turns out that Rosen also cropped a quote to omit praise of her intellect -- praise that would have been inconsistent with his premise that Sotomayor is intellectually inadequate for the Supreme Court.

Here's Rosen:

The most consistent concern was that Sotomayor, although an able lawyer, was "not that smart and kind of a bully on the bench," as one former Second Circuit clerk for another judge put it. "She has an inflated opinion of herself, and is domineering during oral arguments, but her questions aren't penetrating and don't get to the heart of the issue." (During one argument, an elderly judicial colleague is said to have leaned over and said, "Will you please stop talking and let them talk?") The Second Circuit judge Jose Cabranes, who would later become her colleague, put this point more charitably in a 1995 interview with The New York Times: "She is not intimidated or overwhelmed by the eminence or power or prestige of any party, or indeed of the media."

But Cabranes wasn't making the point that Sotomayor was "not that smart," charitably or otherwise. In fact, he made precisely the opposite point. The New Yorker's Amy Davidson explains:

Actually, Cabranes was making a different point. Here's the part of his quote that Rosen-oddly enough-omits: "She's tough and tenacious as well as smart." That "smart" bit would have been helpful in a piece about whether she's smart. (One wonders, too, about Rosen's use of a quote that another judge "is said to have leaned over and said"-why the double said? If he couldn't get a transcript, then a citation, or some context, would be interesting; maybe she is a big bully. Or is this a line Rosen heard secondhand and couldn't nail down?)

So Rosen took a quote in which Cabranes called Sotomayor "smart," cropped out the bit about her being smart, and claimed that Cabranes was making the point that Sotomayor is "not that smart."


Wow. That's "No Exit"-level dishonest.

Maybe someday someone can explain to me why Stephen Glass gets (rightly) fired for making up quotes for The New Republic, but Jeffrey Rosen can crop a quote to make someone look like they said the opposite of what they really said -- and TNR doesn't even bother to correct the article.

Supreme Court Nominations, Sotomayor Nomination
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.