Editor’s Note: Tortured Coverage


| July-August 2008



For a primer on how far the Fourth Estate has fallen, just tap CBS, Antonin Scalia, and YouTube into your favorite search engine. Then double-click play.

In a two-part segment that took up 30 of the network’s 60 Minutes on April 27, you can watch correspondent Lesley Stahl chill with the “brilliant,” “bold,” and “colorful” (her words) Supreme Court justice.

Scalia and Stahl stroll the rainy streets of Queens, New York, and, matching umbrellas in hand, rap about his humble upbringing. They climb the iconic steps of the court, where the 72-year-old “contrarian with a pugnacious temperament” reduces lawyers from “white-shoe law firms” to near tears. They even joke around in the halls of P.S. 13, where the future “maverick” says he “never got in trouble and got straight A’s too.” And, of course, the two spend a little face time in some set designer’s idea of a study, where the tough questions get asked.

“If someone’s in custody, as in Abu Ghraib . . . if you listen to the expression ‘cruel and unusual punishment,’ doesn’t that apply?” Stahl queries.

“No, no,” Scalia replies. “Has anybody ever referred to torture as punishment? I don’t think so. What’s he punishing you for?”

Stahl: “Well, because he assumes you either committed a crime or you know something that he wants to know.”