We noted yesterday that it's hard to believe that if judge Sonia Sotomayor were a man that the New York Times, just three days after the nomination was announced, would run a lengthy news piece that revolved solely around the fact that Sotomayor had a reputation of being pushy on the bench. (That's a trait that's often celebrated when displayed by male judges.)
We noted that the Times, at least according to Nexis, never wrote an article about legal hot head Antonin Scalia's temperament during his nomination process. In fact, the Times never wrote a single sentence about how Scalia famously pushed people around from the bench.
But at The New Republic, Jonathan Chait claims that the Times article, and the topic of temperament, is completely common and nobody should be surprised or offended:
But nobody can seriously contend that the subject of a potential Supreme Court Justice's temperament is unfit for publication. Indeed, the New York Times today has an article on the exact same topic.
Here's the thing though, not only did the Times not think that Scalia's famous temperament was newsworthy during his confirmation process, but for the last two judges nominated to the SCOTUS, John Roberts and Samuel Alito, the Times never bothered to report out their court room temperament either. (And it certainly never relied on anonymous quote to make its point the way it did in its Sotomayor article.) Chait claims that nobody would suggest temperament was out of bounds and that's fair game for Sotomayor because heck, even the NYT wrote about it.
But the truth is the Times, with its temperament article on Friday, showed a deep interest in a topic that it simply has not displayed before. The Times simply invented new rules for Sotomayor.
UPDATE: Talking Points Memo clipped a video of the New York Times' Adam Liptak, who co-wrote the Sotomayor "temperament" story, discussing this issue on MSNBC. Liptak didn't know whether the Times ever wrote about Scalia's temperament during his nomination. According to Nexis, the newspaper did not.
And the newspaper's Adam Nagourney told MSNBC it was a "legitimate" topic to write about, even though as I point out, the Times didn't write about the temperament of the two previous (male) SCOTUS nominees.
Just a coincidence, I guess, that the Times is tackling the topic with Sotomayor.