Bench Memos

NRO’s home for judicial news and analysis.

The Washington Post Is Unfair and Unbalanced


Matt correctly observes that the Washington Post’s coverage of filibuster reform is “pretty fair and balanced” compared with the New York Times’ “sputtering.” But it’s setting the bar far too low to credit the Post for surpassing the standard of unfairness set by Pravda on the Hudson. I think the Post’s story today by Mike Allen and Jeffrey H. Birnbaum is a textbook case of media bias. The Post has basically adopted Democrat talking points. Consider:

1. The headline and the opening sentence use the inflammatory term “nuclear option”.
This term has no descriptive value. Something like “filibuster reform” would be a far more objective and informative term.

It’s unfortunately true, of course, that many on our side have adopted the “nuclear” lingo. Indeed, NRO’s home page today uses the phrase “Going nuclear” to call attention to this blog. That may excuse the Post’s usage. But it’s instructive to compare the Post’s far greater reluctance to use the term “partial-birth abortion,” even though that term was in the title of the bill passed by Congress, has considerable descriptive value, and was used daily by opponents of the legislation.

2. “If Frist and the GOP majority prevail, a long tradition of filibustering will be narrowed.”
Poppycock. As Charles Krauthammer explained in the Post last week, “One of the great traditions, customs, and unwritten rules of the Senate is that you do not filibuster judicial nominees.”

3. “Republicans believe they have figured out how to use the chamber’s rules” to effect filibuster reform.
Oh, those wily Republicans. It is not until 16 paragraphs latter that the reader learns that the Republicans would be merely following a path previously trodden by Democrats.

4. Priscilla Owen, President Bush’s nominee to the Fifth Circuit, is “an abortion opponent.”
What underlies this characterization? Evidently the mere fact that Justice Owen construed the judicial-bypass provisions of the Texas parental-notification statute, and the Texas Supreme Court’s role in reviewing trial court findings of fact, somewhat more narrowly than some of her colleagues.


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