For a perfect example of opinion masquerading as journalism, check out this story in the New York Times which ran on A1 today entitled “Supporters Slow to Grasp Health Law’s Legal Risks” by Peter Baker.
The gist of the article is that the Democrats never took the Constitutional arguments against Obamacare seriously, and thus were unprepared for the robust challenge which, as early as today, may result in part or all of the legislation being overturned.
The fifth paragraph of the column tells the tale:
Looking back, Democrats said they had had every reason for confidence, given decades of Supreme Court precedents affirming Congress’s authority to regulate interstate commerce, and lawyers who defended the law said they had always taken the challenge seriously even if politicians had not. But they underestimated the chances that conservative judges might, in this view, radically reinterpret or discard those precedents.
The last line is the egregious offender. No defender of the law is quoted here, thereby making the assertion “they underestimated the chances that conservative judges might, in this view, radically reinterpret or discard those precedents” solely the view of the author. That is not reporting; that is straightforward opinion. What is more, the main issue in contention – the individual mandate – is front and center precisely because the opponents are arguing that it is not merely an extension of precedent, but a completely novel concept (forcing people into commerce) that has never been addressed before. By claiming that the justices may “radically reinterpret” precedents, Baker is starting from the assumptions of the law’s defenders, not a neutral point.