2. Questioning the Catholics. AP religion writer Rachel Zoll set off alarm bells with a report reading "Alito Would Tip Court to Catholics," as if now America's laws would be reviewed in Rome by Pope Benedict. Zoll listed the Alito family's activities in their New Jersey churches -- he's been a lector, the wife teaches religious education -- as if they're danger signs of theocracy on the march. Another sign of the Vast Roman Conspiracy: Zoll noted that Justices Scalia and Thomas have been sighted "walking together to the court after attending Mass on holy days of obligation." Horrors! Reporters could do a little less of the scare-the-secular shuffle.
3. Nerdy Sports Worries. Snarky Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank, fresh from a profound analysis counting how many times the president blinked in an NBC interview, found it necessary to alert readers that Alito's shoe was untied at a recent Senate sit-down. Milbank's general thesis was that Alito's nomination was a revenge of the "nerds." The evidence, according to Milbank, was that Alito wore a baseball uniform as a Little League coach, had a picture of Phillies great Mike Schmidt on his wall, and went to baseball fantasy camp. "Are these not the marks of a nerd?" Leave it to a liberal newspaper reporter to totally miss the point. Coaching Little League and loving baseball makes you an appealing all-American -- unlike geeky liberal reporters who spend their Saturday mornings Wi-Fi-ing at Starbucks.
4. Intentional Distortions. Reporters constantly suggest judges vote like congressmen rather than judge. They pretend judges vote like congressmen. So Sam Alito voted against regulating machine guns, reporters say. No, he ruled that the interstate-commerce clause is hard to apply to gun sales entirely within one state, or to a gun converted from semi-automatic to automatic. Or Sam Alito voted that husbands had to be notified before their wives had abortions. (The cad!) No, he ruled that the Democratic governor of Pennsylvania could enact that law if the legislature voted for it, that it did not represent an "undue burden" for women to say, "Honey, I'm off to have an abortion."
ABC's Diane Sawyer breathlessly announced that on this decision, Sandra Day O'Connor said Alito "reflects a repugnant view of marriage. Women do not lose their constitutional rights because they're married." But O'Connor overstated the case, calling it a "veto," when the law only asked for notification, not consent. A majority of people supported this in Pennsylvania. A majority in America would say it's a repugnant view of marriage that a mother would make life-ending decisions about babies without notifying the baby's father.
We're still in the early stages of the game. Look for this one to heat up soon, with the media in the thick of things.