Former Washington Post Editor Admits He Should’ve ‘Pushed Harder’ to Publish Alito Flag Story in 2021

Cameron Barr explains why the publication did not move forward with Bob Barnes’ reporting of the Alitos’ upside-down American flag

samuel-alito-upside-down-flag
Photo of the American flag hanging outside Samuel Alito's home obtained by the New York Times

Former Washington Post editor Cameron Barr admitted he should have “pushed harder” to publish the outlet’s reporting on the upside-down American flag flying from the Virginia home of Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. back in 2021.

In January 2021, Alito’s wife, Martha-Ann, told Washington Post Supreme Court reporter Bob Barnes that the upside-down flag — which was embraced by Trump supporters following the 2020 election — was “an international signal of distress,” though the Post never published the report. That is, until the New York Times broke the story earlier this month.

“I agreed with 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 in a Sunday interview, referencing the neighborhood dispute that appeared to be the impetus of the flag.

Barr told Semafor he had suggested the story would focus on the neighborhood disagreement that would include mention of the flag, though that story was never published either.

“In retrospect, I should have pushed harder for that story,” Barr said.

In the Post’s 2024 story on the flag, a Post spokesperson stated the incident was not initially published “because the flag-raising appeared to be the work of Martha-Ann Alito, rather than the justice, and connected to a dispute with her neighbors,” leading to uncertainty if the argument “was rooted in politics.”

While the upside-down flag has long stood as a sign of distress used by the military and protestors in situations of civil unrest, in the months following the 2020 election, Trump supporters used the flag as part of the “Stop the Steal” movement, which claimed President Joe Biden “stole” the election from Trump. Several upside-down flags appeared during the Jan. 6 insurrection.

The Post’s reporting of the upside-down flag at the Alitos’ home in Fairfax County marks one of two flags associated with Jan. 6, as an “Appeal to Heaven” flag was flown from Alito’s beach house in New Jersey. That flag dates back to the American Revolution and is used in far-right circles to signify a “right to revolution.”

Amid reports of the flags, pressure is mounting on Alito to recuse himself from two Supreme Court cases: one regarding Trump’s bid for immunity and the other surrounding Jan. 6.

Comments

One response to “Former Washington Post Editor Admits He Should’ve ‘Pushed Harder’ to Publish Alito Flag Story in 2021”

  1. Kevin Avatar
    Kevin

    In 2006, Ted Kennedy gave us all an emotional warning (now a factual account) on the Senate floor of the dangers of Alito’s extreme ideology: “If you are concerned and you want a justice that’s going to stand for the working men and women in this country—it’s not going to be Judge Alito. If you are concerned about women’s privacy rights, about the opportunity for women to gain fair employment in America—it’s not Judge Alito. If you care about the disabled … the Disability Act that we have passed to bring all of the disabled into our society, if you are looking for someone that is going to be a friend of the disabled—it’s not going to be Judge Alito. And finally, if you are looking for someone that is going to be willing to stand up to the executive branch of government … it’s not going to be Judge Alito.”

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