When’s a “Stare” a “Glare?”

Was Sonia Sotomayor “glaring” (as in, per Merriam Webster, staring angrily or fiercely or expressing hostility by staring angrily) throughout yesterday’s hearings? That’s how the AP’s Larry Neumeister saw it, using the word “glare” three times to describe Sotomayor’s expression. Writes Neumeister:

[F]or the most part Sotomayor maintains a steady glare at those speaking to her, just as she has glared at the lawyers who’ve come before her in the 17 years she’s been a federal judge in New York.

Sotomayor’s eyes never stray from the face of the speaker, however unsavory the message coming her way. Her lips remain closed…

Her demeanor Monday was familiar to those who have watched her over the years in the courts, where she generally kept her comments to the legal issues before her and glared intently at each speaker, sometimes leaning over the bench.

Funny, while Neumeister (who “has covered the federal court house in Manhattan for the 17 years that Sotomayor has been a federal district and appeals court judge there”) saw angry or hostile staring, what I saw more often resembled trying-to-keep-eyes-open-while-senators-drone-on. Eye of the beholder, I suppose.

UPDATE: Maybe 17 years is long enough for one reporter to cover one person and it’s time the AP gets some fresh eyes on Sotomayor. The New York Times’s Mark Leibovich describes Sotomayor yesterday as “mostly smiling and sitting quietly while senators spoke (and spoke).” No mention of angry or hostile stares. No glares in the Washington Post’s account, either (Sotomayor was “understated” in one response and “incidental to much of the action yesterday,” having mostly “listened.”) In another Post story, Sotomayor is described as “sitting at a table alone for hours, pleasantly impassive, waiting her turn to speak.”

Scanning other coverage, I see mentions of the “glare” of the bright lights on Sotomayor yesterday, as well the “media glare,” but so far just Neumeister saw “glares” from Sotomayor.

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.