WashPost, please define "requirement"

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

Here's the Post headline today:

Obama Makes Empathy a Requirement for Court

Pretty much lifted right from GOP talking points, right? Conservatives have latched onto the idea that "empathy" is the top priority for Obama's upcoming SCOTUS justice pick, even though that evidence is quite thin. And conservatives think that Obama's supposed interest in "empathy" is a really big deal. So, voilà, so does the Post.

But "requirement"? That's a huge stretch, and one the daily never justifies. Here's as close as the article comes to making the case [emphasis added]:

When President Obama talks about the traits he admires in a Supreme Court justice, he ticks the predictable boxes -- intellect, integrity, respect for the Constitution and the law. And sometimes he talks about Lilly Ledbetter and the quality he defines as empathy.

Note how Obama only "sometimes" brings up "empathy." (Lilly Ledbetter is in reference to a recent SCOTUS case.) Yet just two paragraphs later the Post declares Obama is "making empathy a core qualification."

There's simply no proof that that's the case. Indeed, the article only points to one instance in which Obama has even mentioned empathy in references to justices. Ever. But now it's become a "requirement"? Plus, the Post ignores that fact that, as Media Matters has pointed out, conservative Republican senators in the past have pointed to "empathy" as being a key trait that successful justices must have. i.e. It's not a new idea, and it hardly seems newsworthy.

But the Post dutifully follows the GOP spin and treats "empathy" is a hugely important code word.

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