WaPo knew about the Justice Alito flag story in 2021 but passed on it: Report

 May 28, 2024

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito has dominated headlines -- in the establishment media realm -- over flags he flew at his private residence in 2021. 

As Ben Smith and Max Tani wrote for Semafor, prior to the Dobbs decision, that story was a non-story for virtually every Supreme Court reporter, as those reporters gave justices distance from the political garbage journalism of the day.

But as the two writers noted, coverage of the high court now seems as if there's a pre-Dobbs and post-Dobbs contrast, which has become quite evident in reports regarding several conservative Supreme Court justices.

The piece pointed out that editors at the Washington Post at the time knew about Alito's flag-flying, but chose not to run the story, as it was more of a story about his wife.

What's happening?

The writers noted that after The New York Times reported on the flag earlier this month, it has created a firestorm of controversy, and calls for Alito to recuse himself from Trump and election-related cases.

Former Washington Post editors and one of its Supreme Court reporters chose not to run the story at the time.

Semafor noted:

Nine days after the flag scoop, a deadpan Post report acknowledged that the D.C. paper learned of the upside-down flag incident more than three years ago, but chose at the time not to report on it.

It was noted that Cameron Barr, the former senior managing editor of the outlet, took responsibility for choosing not to run the Alito flag story at the time. Martin Baron, then the Post's editor-in-chief, said he wasn't aware of the story at the time.

"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," Barr told Semafor.

They would eventually come up with another Alito-related angle regarding a "bitter neighborhood dispute" about the flag, but as Semafor noted, the story never grew legs. Barr told Semafor that he wished he had "pushed harder" to run the story.


The New York Post jumped on the revelation that WaPo passed on the story at the time, penning a piece this week titled, "The Alito flag smear is so absurd, even the Washington Post passed on it."

The Post pointed out that the upside-down flag was flown at the Alito household at the time due to a dispute with a neighbor. Alito's wife reportedly flew the flag, and it was a non-story.

That is until liberal media outlets decided to attempt to connect Alito to the Jan. 6 protest, which must mean that Alito needs to recuse himself from related cases.

As the Post also noted, even if Alito himself raised the upside-down American flag, such actions are protected by the First Amendment, and he has nothing to worry about.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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