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Quotes, Context, and the Liu Nomination

I received an email from Curt Levey of the Committee for Justice who wishes to clarify a comment he made about the Goodwin Liu nomination. Here is the full quote:

Everybody expected Obama to nominate liberals to the federal courts, and that's what he's done, but Goodwin Liu is not your typical liberal. He's very far out on the left wing, even in academia. He is an unabashed defender, really advocate, of judicial activism, and add on top of that, the fact that I think everyone knows that Obama would love to groom him for a spot on the Supreme Court. Obama would love to, you know, be able to say that he nominated the first Asian to the Supreme Court. As you know, it's been almost forty years since somebody who was not a judge was appointed to the Supreme Court. So I think you could think of Liu as the Democratic Clarence Thomas. I think everyone knows that he's being groomed to be on the Supreme Court, and you know, that scares people because he's to the left of even Justice Ginsburg.

And here is the NPR version:

"Goodwin Liu is not your typical liberal," says Curt Levey, director of the conservative Committee for Justice. "He's very far out on the left wing, even in academia. So I think you could think of Liu as the Democratic Clarence Thomas."

In the original, Levey compares Liu with Thomas in the sense of being groomed for a Supreme Court appointment down the line. In the NPR version, it appears that he is comparing the two in the sense of being off on one ideological fringe.

Update: If you are going to quote two sentences together that were not together in the original, as an absolute minimum you must indicate that material was deleted with "...".  As of 2:40 p.m. PDT April 20, well over a day after Levey pointed out the misleading nature of the quote, the NPR site has not corrected it.


Is the allegation that NPR truncated the quote, or was the "full quote" an after the fact clarification?

NPR's failure to include the ellipsis "..." is more than a breach of standard journalistic practice; it's flat-out dishonest.

Since NPR is partially taxpayer-funded, this is inexcusable.

NPR should be given credit for cleverness. Instead of themselves appearing biased by tagging the story as "conservative hypocrite decries payback for Thomas appointment", how much better to hide behind creativity in quotation that allows the reader to draw the intended conclusion?

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