With each passing day the so-called journalism surrounding Sotomayor's Supreme Court nomination gets more and more gruesome. Today, and it's early yet, the top honors in that category goes to the AP's Sharon Theimer with a piece that needs to be examined in order to understand just how dreadful our 'serious' press corps has become.
There are two sides to Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor: a Latina from a blue-collar family and a wealthy member of America's power elite. The White House portrays Sotomayor as a living image of the American dream, though its telling of the rags-to-riches story emphasizes the rags, a more politically appealing narrative, and plays down the riches.
Message: Sotomayor and the White House are hypocrites because they talk about the nominee's "blue collar" upbringing but don't talk about how "wealthy" she is; they don't dwell on her "riches."
If you read the AP, it seems that Sotomayor is privately living in the lap of luxury but she doesn't want anyone to know about it. But is she? The AP's got the proof:
She now earns more than $200,000 a year and owns a condominium in Greenwich Village, a neighborhood of million-dollar-plus homes. Her brother, Dr. Juan Sotomayor, is a physician in North Syracuse, N.Y., whose practice doesn't accept Medicaid or Medicare - programs for the poor and elderly - according to its Web site.
Does 'guilt' by association come any more rank than this? Sotomayor lives--she owns a condo--in a neighborhood where some very rich people own expensive "homes." How much is Sotomayor's condo worth? Did it cost millions? The AP has no idea, but Sotomayor's neighbors have a lot of money, so that's all readers need to know. (Note to AP editors, in NYC pretty much every neighborhood in Manhattan has "million-dollar-plus homes.")
And what about Sotomayor's brother? Well, he's rich because he's a doctor. Plus, his practice doesn't accept Medicaid or Medicare. I'd sure to curious to hear Theimer's justification for how that has anything to do with the Supreme Court nominee. And more importantly to her editors, has the AP ever in its history of Supreme Court reporting--ever, ever, ever?--spotlighted the billing processes of a sibling in order to take a swipe at a raising star judge?
Elsewhere, the AP suggests Sotomayor's a hypocrite about her Puerto Rican heritage [emphasis added]:
On ethnicity, Sotomayor herself has recognized - and contributed to - the dichotomy. She proudly highlights her Puerto Rican roots but hasn't always liked it when others have. She once took issue with a prospective employer who singled her out as a Latina with questions she viewed as offensive yet has shown a keen ethnic consciousness herself.
Yet years ago, during a recruiting dinner in law school at Yale, Sotomayor objected when a law firm partner asked whether she would have been admitted to the school if she weren't Puerto Rican, and whether law firms did a disservice by hiring minority students the firms know are unqualified and will ultimately be fired.
Afterward, Sotomayor confronted the partner about the questions, rejected his insistence that he meant no harm and turned down his invitation for further job interviews. She filed a discrimination complaint against the firm with the university, which could have barred the firm from recruiting on campus. She won a formal apology from the firm.
According to the AP, Sotomayor got bent out shape when a firm partner merely highlighted her Puerto Rican roots. Actually, what the partner did was suggest that maybe Sotomayor got a free ride to college because she was Puerto Rican and would be in over her head if hired by the firm. How on earth does that qualify as highlighting her minority heritage? And how does that support the AP's claim that Sotomayor is proud of her Latina heritage but doesn't want others to dwell on it?
And oh yeah, Theimer also rips Sotomayor's "wise Latina woman" quote completely out of context.
Like we said, just gruesome.
UPDATE: According to the Los Angeles Times' reporting, Theimer (surprise!) got Sotomayor's salary wrong. It's not "more than $200,000 a year." From the Times, which used 2008 government disclosure forms:
As an appellate judge, Sotomayor earned an annual salary of $179,500.
But the White House won't talk about how "wealthy" Sotomayor is; it won't dwell on her "riches."
UPDATE: Blogger Big Tent Democrat points out that in the past, like when the AP was reporting on Obama's proposed tax cuts, the news outlet did not refer to people making more than $200,000 as "wealthy." Instead, they were merely "workers." But when the AP (erroneously) reported that Sotomayor earned that much as a judge, suddenly she's "wealthy" and enjoying her "riches."
UPDATE: To be precise about Sotomayor's annual income, she earns $179,500 as a judge and $25,000 as a lecturer at Columbia University. So I take back what I said about Theimer getting it wrong when she wrote that Sotomayor earns "more than $200,00 a year." She does.
But here's some more context about how "wealthy" Sotomayor is. According to the same disclosure forms that the Times reported on, Sotomayor has a maximum of $65,000 savings in the bank and anywhere from between $1,000 and $15,000 in credit car debt.
Yet within the corridors of Beltway power, AP wants us to think that Sotomayor is one of the truly "wealthy" ones with all kinds of "riches."
UPDATE: For some actual context regarding wealthy judges, this is from Canada's National Post, following president Bush's nomination of John Roberts to the Supreme Court in 2005 [emphasis added]:
At the end of 2003, Roberts's assets were worth as little as $3 million and as much as $7 million. (Given that the stock market has soared since then, the net worth could now be in the $10 million range.) Roberts's most valuable assets were his bank accounts, which held between $1 million and $2 million. (His house in Chevy Chase, Md., is not listed on the form.)
Simple question. And it's been two days since conservative spokesman Newt Gingrich made the incendiary claim. And since then the deep thinkers at the right-wing Corner have posted more than 100 items. Yet it's radio silence about the Gingrich controversy. Nobody at NRO has any opinion on Gingrich's claim of racism. None. It's The Topic That Cannot Be Mentioned.
As we noted earlier this year, this is typical of The Corner and how the right-wing blogosphere works. It's typical of how The Corner and its 'serious' writer run and hide whenever elements of the GOP Noise Machine make fools of themselves.
So it is with the Gingrich story, which explains the complete, and as far as I can tell, unwavering silence at The Corner. My hunch (and it's just a hunch) is that there are conservatives writers there, with their college degrees in hand, who think the "racist" claim is batty and destructive and unjustified. But Newt and Rush and Glenn said it, so nobody's allowed to disagree. Nobody at The Corner is allowed to question the wisdom of the right-wing Holy Trinity. And because conservative writers now play second fiddle to AM talk show hosts, everybody at The Corner plays dumb and types away on whatever other Sotomayor issues are being tossed around.
Why the hunch that some Corner writers disagree with the "racist" claim? Simple, If NRO writers agreed with Newt they would say so online. They would cheer the allegation and back up Newt with all kinds of evidence. And they would demand that other conservatives shout out the same clarion call: Sotomayor is a racist!
But instead, nothing. Zip. Zilch. The NRO writers appear to be too chicken to even write about Gingrich's "racist" claim because quite clearly they would either have to champion it, which nobody has done. Or they'd have to condemn it, which nobody has. So instead, The Corner plays dumb. Again.
From MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan's May 29 syndicated column:
When you think about it, Sonia Sotomayor is the perfect pick for the Supreme Court - in Barack Obama's America.
Like Obama, himself a beneficiary of affirmative action, she thinks "Latina women," because of their life experience, make better judicial decisions than white men, that discrimination against white men to advance people of color is what America is all about, that appellate courts are "where policy is made" in the United States.
To those who don't believe the depiction of our first Hispanic justice as an anti-white, liberal judicial activist, hearken to her own words.
Speaking at Berkeley in 2001, Sonia told her audience, "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion (as a judge) than a white male who hasn't lived that life."
Imagine if Sam Alito had said at Bob Jones University, "I would hope that a wise white male with the richness of his life experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a Hispanic woman, who hasn't lived that life."
Alito would have been toast. No explanation, no apology would have spared him. He would have been branded for life a white bigot.
Judge Sotomayor will be excused because the media agree with her and she is a Latina who will use her court seat to impose upon the nation the values of the National Council of La Raza (The Race), of which she is a member.
Reading 30 of her opinions, GW law professor Jonathan Turley found them "notable" for "lack of depth."
Liberal law professor and Supreme Court expert Jeff Rosen of The New Republic reports, after talking to prosecutors and law clerks, that Sotomayor covers up her intellectual inadequacy by bullying from the bench.
The lady is a lightweight.
According to the Times, the rhetoric surrounding the Sotomayor fight has become ugly on "both sides" [emphasis added]:
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich on Wednesday called Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor a "racist" for remarks she made in 2001, joining an emerging conservative line of attack and enflaming both sides of the battle as interest groups fundraise over her nomination.
Slight problem. While the Times details the unhinged "racist" rhetoric from the right, the newspaper never even hints that similarly enflamed lines of attack have been unleashed from the left. (Either from liberals defending Sotomayor or questioning her record.) That's because there haven't been any such attacks.
The news is that the right-wing has already gone completely ballistic over the Sotomayor nomination, but the Times wants you believe everyone has.
Gloria Borger on CNN, moments ago: "Conservatives believe that empathy is about feelings, and that feelings have no place when you're deciding the law."
No. Conservatives say they believe that. But in reality, they support conservative judges who -- they say -- demonstrate empathy.
Look, this is really simple: conservatives have been consistently lying about Sonia Sotomayor. They've been lying about more or less everything for quite some time. There is simply no reason whatsoever to assume that what they are saying is true, consistent, or principled.
two·fer: "One who belongs to two minority groups and can be counted, as by an employer, as part of two quotas."
From NRO's the corner:
Celebratory Ode [John Derbyshire]
What has been absent from all the rejoicing about the nomination of Judge Sotomayor? Why, a celebratory ode, of course. We humble scribes must supply the deficiency.
All hail the brave and wise Latina!
Compelling is her story!
And jurisprudent her demeanor -
She's on the path to glory!
At SCOTUS she'll make policy
(What need for legislators?)
More jobs! More opportunity!
For twofer second-raters.
Latina wisdom, egged on by
La Raza mischief-makers,
With fill her soul with empathy
(Though not for white test-takers).