Supreme Labeling Imbalance: Still No Liberals to Be Found

Patrick Healy's piece on the future of the Supreme Court is actually a sharp improvement over a previous Times story that labeled "conservatives" on 18 occasions and liberals not once.

There was ideological labeling bias aplenty in Patrick Healy's Monday story on what the Supreme Court might look like under a new president, "Seeking to Shift Attention to Judicial Nominees," with six mentions of "conservatives" raised by Healy compared to zero liberals.

Here's an excerpt:

For Mr. McCain's part, conservatives remember with antipathy that he was part of the so-called Gang of 14, Republican and Democratic senators who forged a compromise that allowed for confirmation votes on some of Mr. Bush's judicial appointments.

Still, many conservatives are confident that Mr. McCain would appoint people who, as he has pledged, fit the mold of the two most recent additions to the court, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. (Mr. Obama voted against both men; he has praised Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David H. Souter as "sensible.")

Healy also referenced "conservative observers" who said Obama intended to appoint "liberal activist judges."

Several conservative observers of the court said they interpreted those remarks as code for Mr. Obama's intention to select "liberal activist judges."

Notice thequotation marksfrom Healy, as if he didn't really believe there was such a thing as "liberal activist judges." That was the only time the word "liberal" appeared in Healy's story.

To his credit, Healy's 6-0 count wasactually far less biased than a previous Times' take by Neil Lewis May 28, which contained an astounding 18 "conservative" labels vs. 0 liberal ones. Maybe next time the Times will even admit that liberal activistsexist outside fevered conservative imaginations.