March 20, 2003

Irony or stubborness or what?…

Here’s an article from the Los Angeles Times that sheds no light on the situation with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s camera shyness. The report does say this:

“Every time we ask, the answer is always no. And there is never an explanation,” said [C-SPAN] vice president Terry Murphy. “We don’t have this problem with any other Supreme Court justice. We have even covered panel discussions and the screen goes blank when he begins to speak.”

At what point does such behavior become odd (not to mention contrary to the principles of open debate and discussion of issues that make a democratic republic possible)?

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  1. I’m a big admirer of your site. Thanks for it. 🙂

    I gotta say, though, that while I think the public obviously has a right to know what Supreme Court Justices think about stuff, and while part of the onus falls on Scalia to make sure we DO know, I don’t think the TV newsmedia necessarily has a right to bring the entire technological apparatus available to them to bear on public (or private) figures. They don’t have a RIGHT to come into my classroom and photograph me while I’m teaching, for instance.

    If Scalia started shredding documents related to decisions he’d made, THAT I’d buy as undemocratic. Maybe the medium in which one makes one’s views known should be a matter of personal choice, from Thomas Pynchon on up to government officials. While it’s easy to dismiss Justice Scalia’s behavior as superstitious, I believe that his keeping his image off the TV by itself is no more a crime against truth than Bush’s wearing makeup for press conferences.

  2. acline 

    What interests me about this is that he apparently won’t say why. If it’s a principled stand (that I might agree with considering my low regard for TV), I’d like to know what it is.

    Further, he’s requesting no TV a some public venues and, apparently, denying the owners of private venues the ability to record at their own functions. So this seems a wider circumstance than simply a private man (he’s not) wanting to keep his privacy.

    I do not think there’s anything sinister about this. It just seems odd.

    BTW, thank you for your kind words! I hope to inform and enlighten in equal measure to the times that I disappoint.

  3. Juke 

    My supposition–and it is purely that–is that Scalia is concerned that visual media give light weight to verbal content. What he is saying, as what he writes, is what is important. It is far too easy to take the “sound bite” that a journalist/editor/interested party believes to be important and run with that, rather than the text and context.

    Scalia is a superb writer. His opinions are readily available in written form. There are no cameras in his courtroom, either, though he has the support of the vast majority of the SCOTUS in that opinion.

    Too, there may be utterly venal reasons: speakers do recycle speeches, from one venue and audience to another. By having his “best bits” taken by TV, he loses the ability to re-use them. I’ve no proof that this is, in fact, the case, but I do know public speakers who are acutely aware of this diminution of their monetary value.

  4. acline 

    If it’s the former, I’d love to hear him say it!

    Thank you for your thoughtful comments.

  5. StoweBerns Lindsey 

    I would like to get more inofs about

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