Saturday, April 16, 2005

Iceberg!

A great story is sometimes like an iceberg. The largest, most significant parts are below the surface, submerged, invisible in the text of the written account. Take David Kirkpatrick's story in The New York Times on Senator Frist's support of Christian conservatives in their battle for the judiciary, specifically against the use of the filibuster to derail devout Christian judges:

Asked about Dr. Frist's participation in an event describing the filibuster "as against people of faith," his spokesman, Bob Stevenson, did not answer the question directly.

"Senator Frist is doing everything he can to ensure judicial nominees are treated fairly and that every senator has the opportunity to give the president their advice and consent through an up or down vote," Mr. Stevenson said, adding, "He has spoken to groups all across the nation to press that point, and as long as a minority of Democrats continue to block a vote, he will continue to do so."

Please note that when writing about the press conference, Kirkpatrick did not state directly just what question was put to Stevenson. We are to take on faith that the spokesman was evasive (although Kirkpatrick is careful to imply that the spokesman was shifty without actually saying it explicitly).

When citing conservative activist Tony Perkins, Kirkpatrick writes:
"The issue of the judiciary is really something that has been veiled by this 'judicial mystique' so our folks [conservative rank and file] don't really understand it, but they are beginning to connect the dots," Mr. Perkins said in an interview, reciting a string of court decisions about prayer or displays of religion.
Please also note that Kirkpatrick does not see fit to indicate the string of court decisions to which Perkins objects. That might be helpful here in deciding what the conservative case is. (I guess we should be grateful that Kirkpatrick did not imply that this Tony Perkins also had the lead role in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho.)

He ends the piece with a Schumer press release:
'The last thing we need is inflammatory rhetoric which on its face encourages violence against judges.'
Please, remind me again -- who's been encouraging violence against judges? Was Senator Kennedy looking to incite violence against Judge Bork almost 20 years ago when he suggested that Bork was looking to bring back segregation? Maureen Dowd's magic ellipses have their counterparts in these submerged stories on the front page. Does that make the Grey Lady to be the Titanic?
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