Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
February 18, 2016

Between the Sheets: On that Photo of Scalia’s Bed at the Luxury Ranch

 A Sunday file photo shows the "El Presidente" suite at Cibolo Creek Ranch, where Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was found dead Saturday.

Clearly, what you are looking at now are some of the most famous pillows and wrinkled sheets in history. Because Justice Scalia’s presence there was a secret, I guess the photo of the bed in the “El Presidente” suite at the Cibolo Creek Ranch is supposed to tell us all we need to know about the passing of Justice Scalia. Giving a wire photographer access to his last luxury accommodation, however, is far from putting the judge’s death to rest.

With all the doubters and deniers out there, for example, you’re asking for trouble when you tell people Scalia was found with a “pillow over his head.” “There was a pillow over his head, not over his face,” said John Poindexter, owner and corporate magnate, addressing the logistics. “The face was entirely clear.”

But what about everything else we can’t see?

What we can’t see is who paid for his charter flight to Texas? (Poindexter said “he didn’t.)

We can’t see why Scalia received free room and board like the other 35 guests at the 30,000-acre luxury ranch near the Mexican border. (The room typically goes for $700/night.)

Enjoying such repose, we can’t see Scalia’s relationship with Poindexter, the owner of the 4,000-employee J.B. Poindexter & Co., a manufacturing firm targeted in an age-discrimination lawsuit that the Supreme Court declined to hear last year.

If, according to Poindexter’s statement, Scalia was at the resort with somebody else, is there some else (literally or figuratively) he might have been in bed with?

And we can’t see why there was no autopsy, or why a county judge (marvelously named Cinderela) agreed to declare Scalia dead based on the information from law enforcement officials and Scalia’s doctor. (Texas law does permit a justice of the peace to declare someone dead without seeing the body.)

Given all we can’t see, what this simple, widely-circulated photograph does reveal is how the rich and powerful are different from the rest of us. …And, how that should be enough.

Photo: MATTHEW BUSCH/GETTY IMAGES; Caption: A Sunday file photo shows the “El Presidente” suite at Cibolo Creek Ranch, where Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was found dead Saturday.

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