Monday, October 31

Open Letter to the New York Times

Subject: Supreme Court Nomination
Date: October 31, 2005 9:11:53 AM EST

Dear Public Editor,

I am concerned that the developing story by Christine Hauser and David Kirkpatrick is already taking a biased stance through its framing headline, "Nomination Likely to Please G.O.P., but Not Some Democrats: The choice of Samuel A. Alito Jr. likely will mend a rift in the G.O.P. caused by his failed nomination of Harriet E. Miers" Far from being a neutral description of a situation the authors themselves admit they cannot yet foresee, this headline frames the story as one in which Judge Alito is uniformly celebrated by the Republicans and some Democrats, with only a few remaining Democrats dissenting. If anything, the facts so far show the exact opposite: this candidate replaces a moderate conservative woman who upheld Roe v. Wade with a far-right man who would not. Polls for decades have repeatedly shown that a majority of Americans support Roe v. Wade. It is the Republicans who now will have to worry that their moderate members - generally on record as supporting Roe - will be the ones to join Democrats opposing Alito. A more accurate headline would be, "Nomination Likely to Please Far-Right, but Not Moderate Republicans." More accurate still would be to simply refrain from judgment: "Nomination Likely to Give Rise to Heated Debate." Please refrain from this kind of biased framing, especially in the crucial early stages when the public is just being introduced to an issue.

Andrew V. Uroskie
Asst. Professor of Literature, Communication and Culture
Georgia Institute of Technology