Lewis, a veteran reporter who retired in 2009, is now part of The Constitution Project, which focuses on the alleged ‘erosion of privacy rights and civil liberties in a post-9/11 world” and “indefinite detention without charge of terrorism suspects.” That marks Lewis as a man of the left, as did his reporting for the Times, which included an amazingly slanted May 2008 look at the potential Supreme Court nominees of either Barack Obama or John McCain.
Judge Sonia Sotomayor and Judge Clarence Thomas both had compelling life stories when they were nominated for the Supreme Court. But only Sotomayor's story has been celebrated that way by the New York Times.
Sotomayor's rise from a housing project in the East Bronx to Supreme Court nominee was "a compelling life story" in Thursday's lead article by Peter Baker and Adam Nagourney.
By contrast, the lead July 2, 1991 story by Maureen Dowd, then a White House reporter, was rather curt when it came to extolling the conservative Thomas's riveting life history. Dowd dispensed with Thomas's inspiring rise from poverty in Pin Point, Ga., where he was raised by his grandparents, in two and a half paragraphs, and suggested a cynical political motivation on the part of President George H.W. Bush. Thomas's life wasn't necessarily inspiring but was merely "offered as inspiring" by the president:
Liberally slanted legal reporter Neil Lewis has a scoop-let on President Obama's anticipated first court appointment, the "moderate" Judge David Hamilton, to the federal appeals court in Chicago ("Moderate Is Said to Be Pick for Court").
Lewis saw this upcoming move as a "signal" Obama's future appointees would be "moderate" as well. But how truly moderate is David Hamilton, federal trial court judge in Indiana and former board member for the Indiana ACLU?
Lewis provides no evidence, only the vague assertion that Hamilton "is said by lawyers to represent some of his state's traditionally moderate strain." But that seal of approval has a certain "strained" quality itself; if Hamilton is "said" to "represent some" of Indiana's moderation, then he's not all moderate, but something else as well. Probably something liberal. Why?
For one, the liberal Obama picked him. For another, his only memorable rulings, according to Lewis himself, were two anti-conservative ones. In one case, he sided with the ACLU on prayer, a ruling later overturned. Third, Hamilton clerked for a liberal judge. Lewis's assertion is contradicted by factual evidence from his own story.
History will tell that the New York Times actually endorsed John McCain as its preferred Republican nominee, albeit in a hold-your-nose fashion. History will also tell that the paper began souring on its former favorite "maverick" and moderate Republican almost immediately after he clinched the nomination and becoming the only thing standing between the White House and a historic Democratic victory for either the first woman or first black president.
Even before the presidential race narrowed down to an Obama-McCain matchup, the Times did its best to kneecap GOP candidates, reserving special hostility to its hometown Republican, New York Gov. Rudy Giuliani, portraying him as a racist mayor who exaggerated his post 9-11 herosim.
Times Watch has put together the 10 absolute worst stories that appeared in the Times during Campaign 2008, pitting that historic beacon of hope, Democrat Barack Obama, versus the temperamental, inarticulate appeaser of right-wing racists, Republican John McCain.
But the truly "stark contrast" was how Lewis treated the respective camps with regard to their hypothetical Supreme Court nominations. Lewis painted an uninvolved McCain as paying "fealty" to "the conservative faithful," while an engaged Obama would be merely trying to reverse the "current conservative dominance of the courts" without displaying any liberal ideological thrust of his own.
Back in 2003, Lewis identified Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch as a "leading conservative," but Sen. Ted Kennedy was simply "Democrat of Massachusetts."
His Wednesday report showed a similar contrast, with tons of "conservatives" (18 in all in a 1,400-word story) emanating from the McCain camp but not a single "liberal" to be found around Obama.