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Media, VIPs Get Prime Seats at Hearing

By Paul Kane
A quick review of seating arrangements at today's confirmation hearing for Sonia Sotomayor shows who's the most important constituency here today -- the media, not the public.

We've got 6 super-long tables in the middle of the room seating almost 110 journalists. Then, not at the tables, are another two rows of seats for press, an additional 50 or so seats.

The cushiest seats in the room are the four rows directly behind the nominee's table, a collection of nearly 50 VIPs selected by the administration as the nominee's advisers, friends and other key people whose faces will be frequently seen in Sotomayor's backdrop. Among those VIPs are Louis Freeh, the former FBI director, and Wade Henderson, head of the influential Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. The big loser in the set up of the hearing room inside Hart 216 -- the general public.

Just two rows of seats, all the way in the very back, are reserved for the the Average Joes and Average Joses who've made the trek to come to see this historic confirmation of the first Latina ever nominated for the Supreme Court. In all, less than 50 seats are reserved for the public, who will be shuttled in and out of the room throughout the day to try to allow as many people as possible to view the hearing.

By Paul Volpe  |  July 13, 2009; 9:47 AM ET
Categories:  Hearings , Supreme Court  
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Next: The Committee's Opening Statements


50 short timed seats for the entire US population, while the press and self proclaimed VIPs get the majority of and best seats? Whets wrong with this picture? Sounds more like a Kangaroo court.. Why have the hearing at all?

Posted by: UnitedStatesofAmerica | July 13, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

yes, indeed; 50 seats for the regular citizens. This is our famous "american democracy" at work.

Posted by: RIVASF1@WESTAT.COM | July 13, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

IMHO, the "prime" seat at a hearing, is the one that is in the camera's blind spot. Better yet, to be in a completely different building, lest you be caught on tape with your eyes rolling up into the back of your head.

Posted by: trambusto | July 13, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Was this article texted from a cell phone? "Another" and "director" have typos.

Posted by: pinkkitup | July 13, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Code Pink ruined for all of us. And also, our press is not likely to throw shoes.

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld | July 13, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Um, ok. Presumably - if the media are doing their job - the reason for their elevated place at the table is obviously to meaningfully relate the proceedings to the other 300 million members of the U.S. population who couldn't make it to the hearing.

Unfortunately - as amply demonstrated by Volpe's inane commentary here - the media rarely fulfill that elevated role. Instead of providing nuance and context, they just twitter slackjawed factoids and lazy opinions, absorbing and relaying about as much meaning from the proceedings as Mr. Average Joe.

Posted by: why1201 | July 13, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

To poster "why 1201," I couldn't have said it better.

To Volpe or Kane, whoever posted this inane article, I can only assume you did not volunteer to leave the hearing room to allow an additional member of the public access. 'Nuff said.

Posted by: dwanebivens | July 13, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

yes, indeed; 50 seats for the regular citizens. This is our famous "american democracy" at work.

Posted by: RIVASF1@WESTAT.COM | July 13, 2009 12:29 PM

the key pivot is the press reports back via media and the 50 or so ding-a-lings who want to punch a date in their memory scrap book report back to.... a few family members maybe. Besides, as I noted earlier, the process is clogged by Code Pink. These things are like fundraisers for them. C-Span has these hearing gavel to gavel, with no press commentary, so we the public are there... make no mistake about that.

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld | July 13, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

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