Antonin Scalia Rejects News That Doesn’t Fit His Worldview. Just Like the Rest of Us.

In a new interview, the Supreme Court justice knocks <em>The New York Times</em> and <em>The Washington Post</em>.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia takes part in an interview with Chris Wallace on 'FOX News Sunday' at the FOX News D.C. Bureau on July 27, 2012.
National Journal
Matt Berman
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Matt Berman
Oct. 7, 2013, 7:59 a.m.

Su­preme Court Justice Ant­on­in Scalia pays no mind to the shrill, lib­er­al me­dia. But he will hap­pily listen to con­ser­vat­ive ra­dio talk shows. 

Which means that in his self-se­lect­ing me­dia diet, the Su­preme Court justice is just like the rest of us. Scalia is both a self-de­scribed con­ser­vat­ive and someone who evid­ently be­lieves that there is fer­vent lib­er­al bi­as in two of the coun­try’s most stor­ied news­pa­pers. Those views put him squarely among a group of people who pick and chose news sources that sup­port their ideo­lo­gic­al be­liefs.

Here’s the full rel­ev­ant quote from Scalia’s fas­cin­at­ing in­ter­view with New York Magazine:

What’s your me­dia diet? Where do you get your news?

Well, we get news­pa­pers in the morn­ing.

“We” mean­ing the justices?

No! Maur­een and I.

Oh, you and your wife “¦

I usu­ally skim them. We just get The Wall Street Journ­al and The Wash­ing­ton Times. We used to get The Wash­ing­ton Post, but it just “¦ went too far for me. I couldn’t handle it any­more.

What tipped you over the edge?

It was the treat­ment of al­most any con­ser­vat­ive is­sue. It was slanted and of­ten nasty. And, you know, why should I get up­set every morn­ing? I don’t think I’m the only one. I think they lost sub­scrip­tions partly be­cause they be­came so shrilly, shrilly lib­er­al.

So no New York Times, either?

No New York Times, no Post.

And do you look at any­thing on­line?

I get most of my news, prob­ably, driv­ing back and forth to work, on the ra­dio.

Not NPR?

Some­times NPR. But not usu­ally.

Talk guys?

Talk guys, usu­ally.

Do you have a fa­vor­ite?

You know who my fa­vor­ite is? My good friend Bill Ben­nett. He’s off the air by the time I’m driv­ing in, but I listen to him some­times when I’m shav­ing. He has a won­der­ful talk show. It’s very thought­ful. He has good callers. I think they keep off stu­pid people.

John Sides, a George Wash­ing­ton Uni­versity polit­ic­al sci­ence pro­fess­or and blog­ger over at The Mon­key Cage, broke down some 2010 Pew data on me­dia con­sump­tion to piece to­geth­er how people who dis­trust the me­dia are more likely to have a me­dia diet that con­firms their polit­ic­al be­liefs.

The data, in chart form:

The 2012 Pew me­dia con­sump­tion data finds that The New York Times may fit in here as well, with a lar­ger than av­er­age num­ber of lib­er­al read­ers and a lower than av­er­age num­ber of con­ser­vat­ive read­ers, with only very few Re­pub­lic­ans. Con­ser­vat­ive talk-ra­dio hosts such as Sean Han­nity and Rush Limbaugh have audi­ences dom­in­ated by Re­pub­lic­ans and con­ser­vat­ives.

While Scalia’s me­dia diet may be com­mon for people who think like he does, it’s not par­tic­u­larly up­lift­ing. No mat­ter what you think about me­dia bi­as in The Wash­ing­ton Post or The New York Times, they are two of the dom­in­ant sources of journ­al­ism in the world, as this (apolit­ic­al) Times story and this (apolit­ic­al) Post story from today demon­strate. And no mat­ter what you think about Ant­on­in Scalia, he’s pretty ob­vi­ously a massively smart hu­man be­ing. But when some of the smarter people out there re­fuse to read some of the smarter journ­al­ism out there, every­one loses. 

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