How epically dishonest has the Sotomayor "Latina woman" coverage been?

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

Almost beyond words dishonest. Like, off the charts dishonest, which was only highlighted by a new piece of research that I came across. Just really depressing stuff.

First, the background. As I detailed in my column, the Beltway press has categorically refused to put Sotomayor's controversial "Latina woman" quote in context and have steadfastly refused to inform news consumers the comment was made in reference to discrimination cases; a context that completely eliminates the "racist" attack against her. Put it context, it become completely obvious that Sotomayor was plainly not suggesting that women, categorically, make better decisions than men. (But don't tell ABC's Diane Sawyer, who spun the story that way this morning.)

So why is the press playing dumb? Simple. Republicans in the U.S. Senate have made it rather clear that they are not planning any sort of wholesale opposition to Sotomayor's nomination. But reporters and pundits are banking on nomination drama, so they're willing to chase, and legitimize, the "racist" storyline. To do that though, the press has to play dumb on an epic scale about the "Latina woman." To pretend it really was some kind of Battle of the Sexes proclamation.

Bottom line: Reporters and pundits must avoid providing any kind of context for the "Latina woman" quote in order for that storyline to survive even modest scrutiny.

Well, mission accomplished because I just did a Nexis search and found that during the last ten days there have been more than 950 media mentions of Sotomayor and "Latina woman." Then I looked to see how many of those 950-plus news reports included the word "discrimination" as a way to put that quote in context.

Answer: Less than 20.

Or, approximately two percent of news reports have managed to do journalism's most basic task, which is to provide all pertinent information. Instead of informing news consumers, the press has been actively misinforming them about Sotomayor.

That's how dishonest the coverage has been.

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