As Interest Surges, Battle to Define Court Nominee Starts Online
By Jose Antonio Vargas
Inevitably, and very quickly, the online battle to define President Obama's first Supreme Court nominee has begun.
As word leaked this morning that U.S. Appeals Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor had been selected to replace retiring Justice David Souter, the Washington-based Heritage Foundation went on Google and bought search terms. Any minute now, when you Google "Sonia Sotomayor" and "Supreme Court Justice" on Google, you will see a link to an ad paid for the by the conservative think-tank -- a form of online rapid response that other conservative groups are likely to follow in coming days. Robert Bluey, who hosts a weekly conservative bloggers briefing at Heritage, confirmed the online ad buy to The Post.
A quick survey of Hispanic-written blogs indicate that they are -- not unexpectedly -- excited by the announcement. One of the bloggers changed into a shirt with the Puerto Rican flag on it, took a photo and posted it on her blog. The 54-year-old Sotomayor, if confirmed, would be the first Hispanic on the Supreme Court -- and the first to be raised in a public housing project. But some bloggers are anxious, too. Anticipating the reaction to Sotomayor, Liza Sabater, a black Puerto Rican and founder of Culture Kitchen in New York, is conducting open pollon her blog, which she titled: "Reasons why anybody (including 'liberals') would want to put una mujer" -- a woman -- "in her place."
"I don't know anything about Sonia Sotomayor's record but am not going to lie: some of the harshest and most despicable bigotry I've had to endure as a Puerto Rican black woman online has come from so-called liberal/progressive/leftist allies," Sabater wrote, explaining the open, unscientific poll. "So let's see which is the most popular put-down used against you or any of your Latina amigas."
Some of the coded insults included in the poll include, "She makes no apologies for coming from a working class background" and, with 12 votes in, the top vote-getter, "She is not intimidated or overwhelmed by the eminence or power or prestige of any party, or indeed of the media."
But the mainstream media aside, how will Sotomayor and the White House deal with all the online attention?
According to a Google spokesman, as of 12 p.m. CT, 7 of the top 10 fastest-rising terms on Google were related to Sotomayor. One of the two fastest-rising terms is "Sonia Sotomayor biography."
This is one in a series of online columns on our growing "clickocracy," in which we are one nation under Google, with e-mail and video for all. Please send suggestions, comments and tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted at 2:22 PM ET on May 26, 2009
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