DANIEL VAUGHAN: The Alito Flag-Gate Controversy Implodes In Left's Face

 May 31, 2024

It was always a dumb controversy, but watching it collapse in real-time has been a treat. The New York Times threw many journalists and editors at a set of stories trying to claim that two flags at Justice Samuel Alito's house prove he's a radical conservative who should recuse himself from multiple cases. Not only does the Times have no proof anymore, but other liberals are quietly slipping out the door so they don't get noticed doing the same thing as Alito. It is a story that has imploded in the left's face and has shown them to be entirely out of touch with both history and reality.

The first story the New York Times tried to make a big deal about is an upside-down American flag. It was briefly outside the Alito house, and the Times called this a clear sign that Alito was in total agreement with what happened on January 6, 2021. Alito denied this characterization and said it was a dispute with his neighbors, and his wife put the flag out. The left tried mocking this explanation, but it turns out Alito was correct and vindicated.

The Washington Post revealed it knew about this incident three years ago and chose not to run it. The Post explained, "The Post, in its own story Saturday, said that it had been told of the story in January 2021 and investigated, choosing not to write about it because it appeared Alito's wife was responsible and that it was not clear the neighborhood argument was over politics."

The Post editor was interviewed by Semafor and asked about the decision. He said the Post had a "consensus" that it was a non-story about a neighborly dispute. "'I agreed with [Supreme Court reporter] Bob Barnes and others that we should not do a single-slice story about the flag, because it seemed like the story was about Martha-Ann Alito and not her husband,' recalled Barr of the deliberations. Instead, Barr said, he suggested a story on the bitter neighborhood dispute that Alito told them had prompted his wife to raise the flag. They would use the flag itself, he thought, as a detail in the story. But that story never took shape."

Does that mean the flag was in good taste for a sitting Supreme Court Justice? Certainly not, and Alito likely understands that point. However, an argument over optics is far different from the tale spun by The New York Times crew of journalists.

Undeterred, however, the Times pushed on. The Times unearthed a second flag that was supposedly just as egregious. The Times published photos of the "Appeal To Heaven" flag at Alito's beach house. The Times breathlessly told its audience that this flag was used by the January 6th riots at the capital and that Alito was throwing his lot in with this group.

This characterization of the Appeal To Heaven flag would be news to anyone with a passing knowledge of American history or current events. Initially used by a specific group of soldiers under George Washington, the Appeal To Heaven, or "Pine Tree Flag," goes back to the American Revolution and is steeped in American history, just like the Gadsen flag.

People have flown it and many other Revolutionary flags throughout the country's history. You can even find pictures of the flag at left-wing events, where liberal protestors bring it with them. After the Times ran its story, the San Francisco Civic Center removed the flag from its building, where it had flown for 60 years. I don't think anyone is accusing San Francisco of being some bastion of radical right-wing thought. These flags and symbols are ubiquitous in American history. If the Times ever left the deep-blue enclave of its offices, it might learn something.

Instead of being a sign of some right-wing conspiracy, the Times revealed that its staff and readers will believe any left-wing conspiracy theory. The stories on Alito's flags are like QAnon for the left, a deep rabbit hole from which few emerge sane. They want to believe the very worst, and anything that smells wrong gives them the belief that they're on the hunt.

This is why Alito was right to reject calls for his recusal, and Justice John Roberts is right to reject Senate Democrats' demands to discuss Supreme Court ethics and rules. These stories are a total sham meant to delegitimize the Court. Instead of defending American institutions, Senate Democrats and liberal outlets like the New York Times are declaring open season. The facts don't matter, only the conclusions they're trying to draw.

For all the endless stories we get on misinformation and the dangers of the conspiracy theory-raddled mind, we're seeing that play out on the left. The New York Times should be issuing apologies and retractions. Instead, we're getting them doubling down on a conclusion with no facts backing it up.

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