The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Wal-Mart on June 20, saying that the hundreds of thousands of women who filed a class-action lawsuit against the retail giant hadn't proved the company has a "nationwide policy" that led to discrimination.
The 5-4 decision angered many on the left, including some in the news media which love to beat up on Wal-Mart. That night, ABC "World News with Diane Sawyer" was one of the reports that slanted their coverage in favor of the losing plaintiffs in Wal-Mart Stores v. Dukes. The many women suing Wal-Mart claimed they had been discriminated against, but the Supreme Court didn't see it that way.
Anchor Diane Sawyer teased Terry Moran's biased report with this question: "Can there be mass discrimination if there is no explicit policy? Or, as the senior female justice tried to argue, is discrimination more subtle than that?"
Sawyer's statement ignored Justice Antonin Scalia's majority opinion, which stated that "The crux of this case is commonality-the rule requiring a plaintiff to show that 'there are questions of law or fact common to the class.'" Scalia stated elsewhere in his decision: "They [the plaintiffs] have little in common but their sex and this lawsuit." Individually, the women may still sue Wal-Mart, which Moran later characterized as giving Wal-Mart the ability to "crush" them one woman at a time.
But "World News" saw the ruling as a blow against equality for women and quoted four people who disagreed with ruling and only one (the Court decision itself) that agreed.
Moran lamented that the Supreme Court's decision was "a huge victory, not just for Wal-Mart, but for corporate America as a whole." He then declared that "it will have a tremendous effect on women coming together to fight discrimination in the workplace."
"World News" portrayed the debate as a David and Goliath-style fight, using the headline "Battle for Equality." Moran sympathized with the first plaintiff Betty Dukes saying "it's been a decade of struggle against the world's largest company." He then included a quote from Dukes who vowed to continue the fight against Wal-Mart.
The only voice of agreement with the SCOTUS decision, was the decision itself written by Scalia. Moran quoted part of that opinion, which stated that "The women failed to show that Wal-Mart has a policy of discrimination that worked to harm all female employees."
But Moran found plenty of disagreement to include from Dukes to Justice Ginsburg, to Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and a woman on the street. Moran noted that "All three women on the court dissented" and that Justice Ginsburg "shot back at Scalia," saying "discrimination was more subtle." Moran quoted Ginsburg saying, "Managers, like all humankind, may be prey to biases of which they are unaware."
Moran neglected to mention that the Supreme Court unanimously agreed that that the case could not go forward in its current form. Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor, Kagan, and Breyer had all agreed with Scalia that the lawsuit, as it stood, could not go forward. They argued in Ginsburg's dissenting opinion that the case could go forward in a different form in lower courts.
But those crucial facts were ignored by ABC, which painted the case as a victory for corporate discrimination against women.
When ABC turned to Pelosi for reaction she claimed that the Supreme Court "set back the cause of equality for women."
Moran then asked a woman on the street a leading question: "If you had to go against your employer in a case, would you feel that the system was on your side?" Predictably, the woman said no. Moran nodded in the background when the woman gave her answer.
Moran closed his report with a blatant attack on the retailer. After saying that women would have to sue Wal-Mart individually, Moran warned that "A giant company like Wal-Mart has the resources to crush them [women] one at a time."
The media has a long history of Wal-Mart bashing - a tradition continued in this instance by ABC.