This news article I chose regarding the Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Judge Samuel Alito focuses on the main issues that Alito would be questioned about and the likelihood of confirmation. I believe that the piece is intended to mostly be a presentation of fact, but presents Alito in a very slightly favorable light.
The piece does not look like an opinion piece; rather, it is a presentation of what happened on the first day of the confirmation hearings (the introductions) and statements by various senators on the Judiciary Committee on what they would focus on and what their concerns were.
The two main topics that Judge Alito would be questioned about are (1) the right of women to a choice on abortion, and (2) attitude towards executive Presidential power. Each of the sections in the piece devoted to those two topics contains statements from senators, both Republican and Democrat, who have differing opinions from Alito, promising to interrogate him closely.
One of the statements that stood out to me was, “But Republicans warned against turning the hearings into a partisan attack on Alito and the Bush administration,” (middle of second page). It is implied that the Democrats are being desperate, perhaps, and certainly overly aggressive. Later that page, the “Concerned Women for ” said they were “disappointed at the tactics of the (liberal) opposition groups of deceptive, distortion, and delay.”
In class last time, we were talking about the fact that the New York Times got criticized for labeling conservative groups as “conservative” but not applying the corresponding label to liberal groups. In this piece I can see their effort to correct this. They say, “the liberal group independentcourt.org” as well as “conservative Concerned Women for .”
The reporter is Bill Mears. A quick search for his record in news turns up many articles by him, all in the field of law. He is a reporter for CNN’s LawCenter, and is quite experienced with writing articles on the Supreme Court and the justices.
This article seems to give mostly equal weight to both sides, and perhaps a little bit more to Alito’s supporters. Mears gives quotes from Democrats criticizing Alito’s track record regarding executive power, while including Sen. Orrin Hatch’s (R-Utah) comment warning against a partisan attack. There are no anonymous sources, all the quotes were taken from senators, lawmakers, and political figures.
The timing for this article is absolutely critical. It was released in the evening of 9 Jan 05 (Monday), which was the first day of Alito’s confirmation hearings. This article discusses the main topics of debate, and thus the topics to watch for, in the next few days’ hearings. The article is placed on the “front page” of the POLITICS section of CNN.com, and is obviously a piece intended to stir the readers’ interest in the hearings (and follow up the next day on CNN TV).
I feel like the article leans a bit more towards Alito’s supporters by giving President Bush the last word about Alito’s exquisite qualifications. In addition, all of the criticisms by Sen. Edward Kennedy were offset by remarks by other Republicans. Christie Whitman, an abortion rights supporter (one of the contentious issues), also said Alito would serve with distinction on the Supreme Court.