The New York Times Ignores the Facts In Tennessee

The New York Times editorial board is one of the most irresponsible political groups around, which would matter more if the paper’s editorials were read by anyone other than a few die-hard leftists. In addition to writing their collective editorials, the board members blog individually. These posts provide a window into the board members’ thinking, or lack thereof. As, for example, this one by Dorothy Samuels titled “Tennessee Ignores the Koch Brothers.”

Participants in Tennessee’s judicial elections on Thursday rejected a malodorous effort to oust three capable sitting state Supreme Court justices: Chief Justice Gary Wade and Justices Cornelia Clark and Sharon Lee.

Conservative Republican groups, including the Republican State Leadership Committee and Americans for Prosperity — part of Charles and David Koch’s big-dollar political operation — underwrote a campaign against the judges.

This isn’t explained in Samuels’s post–she probably doesn’t know it–but Tennessee has a hybrid judicial system in which Supreme Court justices are appointed by the governor, and then, at the end of an eight-year term, are subject to an election in which the voters’ options are either to retain or replace them. The three justices in question were up for their “retain or replace” election. Samuels describes them as “capable,” but I suspect she knows nothing about them except that they are liberals.

Americans For Prosperity is a grass roots group that has enlisted millions of Americans to participate in its various activities. Nevertheless, liberals always refer to it as the creature of Charles and David Koch–it makes them feel better about the fact that there is a genuine grass roots rebellion against their failed policies.

This is the key point of Samuels’s post:

For weeks before Thursday’s election, they bombarded Tennessee with ads depicting them as “soft on crime,” hostile to business interests and supporters of “the Obama agenda” and “Obamacare.” But this was all nonsense: In fact the judges never ruled on a case involving the health care law.

I was curious about this. You wouldn’t expect a state court to be issuing rulings on Obamacare, so why did opponents of the three liberal justices mention Obamacare in their ads? It took around 30 seconds on Google to find the answer, courtesy of Brian Kelsey, the Chairman of the Tennessee Senate’s Judiciary Committee. He wrote an op-ed titled “Why I am Voting to Replace the 3 Supreme Court Justices.” It turns out that Tennessee has an unusual system in which the state’s attorney general is appointed by the Supreme Court. Tennessee has a conservative governor, but a liberal attorney general who was appointed by a liberal Supreme Court:

I am voting to replace the Supreme Court in part for their role in ObamaCare. I passed a law this year prohibiting ObamaCare expansion in Tennessee. The Tennessee decision not to expand Medicaid under ObamaCare is possible only because 28 states joined the lawsuit against ObamaCare and won that issue in the U.S. Supreme Court. Tennessee did not join the lawsuit against ObamaCare because the Attorney General refused. Two of the three Supreme Court justices on the ballot tomorrow appointed our liberal Attorney General. I would prefer a conservative Supreme Court to appoint a conservative Attorney General who will fight for Tennesseans against federal government overreach.

So it was perfectly logical–not “nonsense” as claimed by Dorothy Samuels–for opponents of the three justices to refer to Obamacare in their ads.

Was Samuels aware of the facts, and did she deceitfully hide them from her readers? I doubt it. I think she probably wrote out of ignorance. Her post sounds as though she is simply quoting from a press release by a liberal Tennessee group, one of hundreds of such releases that no doubt flood her email inbox, as they do mine. Rather than being intentionally deceptive, Samuels probably was too incurious to find out the facts for herself.

This is, in my experience, typical of the Times editorial board. The paper’s editorials all too often sound like press releases from MoveOn.org or articles from the Nation. The paper’s editorialists simply recycle errors of fact that are fed to them by liberal advocacy groups. That laziness goes a long way toward explaining why so few people care what the New York Times thinks.

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