Home / General / Why did the WaPo pass over a massive scoop?

Why did the WaPo pass over a massive scoop?

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The latest Jodi Kantor scoop, this one showing that Sam Alito is a massive liar and that Martha-Ann Alito is a suburban neighbor from hell, raises new questions about why the Post sat on this story rather than reporting it. Semafor actually spoke to the managing editor responsible, who does not have a very convincing explanation. We then get commentary from Ben Smith, who says that since Dobbs hadn’t come down yet Supreme Court reports were not inclined to think that the Supreme Court was an institution of political significance. I wish I didn’t believe him:

The decision was a matter of “consensus,” said Cameron Barr, the former senior managing editor, who said he takes responsibility for the decision not to run the story. The Post’s then-editor-in-chief, Martin Baron, told Semafor that he had been unaware of the story at the time.

“I agreed with [Supreme Court reporter] Bob Barnes and others that we should not do a single-slice story about the flag, because it seemed like the story was about Martha-Ann Alito and not her husband,” recalled Barr of the deliberations.

Instead, Barr said, he suggested a story on the bitter neighborhood dispute that Alito told them had prompted his wife to raise the flag. They would use the flag itself, he thought, as a detail in the story. But that story never took shape.

Ben’s View

Coverage of the Supreme Court can be divided into pre-Dobbs and post-Dobbs — or, more specifically, into the period before and after May 2022, when Politico published a leaked draft of the decision that would overturn Roe v. Wade’s federal protection of the right to an abortion. The leak and its aftermath exposed the court’s internal politics and further damaged its carefully-cultivated reputation as an institution above the partisan fray.

Mark Tushnet’s article about how the broader legal elite would quickly find various ways to rationalize even an option as important and nakedly partisan and lawless as Bush v. Gore remains a critical text for understanding American legal discourse in the 21st century. If Dobbs finally shattered the illusion better late than never, but Jesus Christ Dred Scott was 167 years ago.

It must be conceded that Alito has told much bigger lies than the one about the sedition flag:

Please don’t tell Mrs. Alito about this blog, lest I have to be an Alexandria for some reason.

…Exactly correct:

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