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

Matt Berman

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.

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

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

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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 TheWashington 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 atThe 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 TheWashington 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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