New: Confrontation Over Flag Outside Alito's Home Sparks Media and Political Debate

 May 26, 2024

A recent news story has sparked interest in Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito's residence and the behavior of the press.

A Washington Post reporter got into a heated argument with Justice Samuel Alito's wife over an upside-down American flag, but the newspaper did not report the incident.

As reported by Mediaite, in January 2021, a reporter from The Washington Post, Robert Barnes, visited the Alito home on President Joe Biden’s inauguration day to inquire about an upside-down American flag. Martha-Ann Alito confronted Barnes, explaining that the flag's position was due to a “distress” signal, not a political statement. This was triggered by a harsh dispute with a neighbor, not national events.

Details Emerge Around Heated Exchange

The confrontation heated when Martha-Ann Alito expressed her distress. She discussed a vulgar remark made by the neighbor involving offensive language that escalated the disagreement. Martha-Ann Alito reacted by replacing the American flag with a novelty flag during the exchange, asking rhetorically, "There! Is that better?"

The Washington Post initially did not report on this event, as it seemed to involve personal grievances rather than political statements. However, the narrative changed when The New York Times and Fox News later picked up on it, aligning it with broader political implications like the January 6 insurrection.

Further reports highlighted that besides the American flag, an “Appeal to Heaven” flag was also seen outside Alito’s beach house in 2023. This flag, tied to revolutionary-period contexts, added layers to the political readings of the Alitos' flag displays.

Political Repercussions Follow Media Reports

The resurfacing of this event in the media led to significant political responses. Congressman Steve Cohen proposed a resolution on May 17, 2024, suggesting that Justice Alito be censured and recused from cases related to political disputes, including those linked to the Capitol riot. The proposal highlighted the perceived intertwining of personal actions and political implications.

Justice Samuel Alito addressed the flag incident, affirming that his wife hung the flag upside down due to distress caused by a neighborhood dispute and not as a political protest.

Martha-Ann Alito was publicly frustrated, demanding, “Ask them what they did!” referring to the neighbors involved in the dispute. This statement highlighted the personal nature of the flag incident.

Broader Implications of Media Choices

The decision by The Washington Post not to report the incident initially raises questions about journalistic ethics and choices, considering the potential implications of the Alitos' flag use becoming a political talking point.

The delayed reporting by major news outlets allowed the incident a different narrative frame when it eventually hit the public eye, suggesting shifts in media perspectives based on political climates and news cycles.

Justice Alito's response to Fox News revealed further details of the vulgar exchange with his neighbors. Reporter Shannon Bream quoted him highlighting the severe nature of the vulgarity, which included unacceptable and inflammatory language.


What started as a neighborhood dispute escalated into a media and political controversy. The flag incident has been critiqued, analyzed, and politicized, transcending the initial personal grievances to evoke broader discussions on ethics, media responsibility, and the intersections of personal actions with public and political perceptions. This series of events illustrates the potent influence of media in framing political dialogue and the far-reaching consequences of reporting decisions.

About Victor Winston

Victor is a freelance writer and researcher who focuses on national politics, geopolitics, and economics.

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