Media Previously Painted Sen. Specter as 'Conservative' 'Grand Inquisitor'

While the media are now painting turncoat Sen. Arlen Specter ( D-Pa.) as a Republican moderate who laments how the party has left him behind, a search through the Media Research Center's archives finds that the MSM have painted the Keystone State liberal anywhere from being a mere "conservative" to a traitorous Torquemada to pro-choicers.

During the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings in October 1991, Time reporter Julie Johnson noted on the October 18 edition of "Washington Week in Review" that:

Arlen Specter took on this role as the Great Inquisitor. Some people [feminists] think he pilloried Anita Hill, that with his sort of low-blow hit on perjury, they're saying to a friend in Pennsylvania, who's been pro-choice, been on their side: 'How could you do this to me?'

On June 30 of the same year, NBC reporter Jim Miklaszewski laughably characterized the pro-choice Specter as a conservative pertaining to the abortion issue:

Miklaszewski on "Nightly News": Above all, Bush is advised to avoid the abortion question. Even conservatives warn that politically, it's just too hot to touch.

Senator Arlen Specter: Well, I think that the President has a good bit to lose if we start to marshal a lot of people to look at this kind of issue when 1992, when the presidential election comes up.

The Specter-as-conservative label is relatively rare as the media often preferred to tag him as a moderate or even an "alternative candidate to the far-right fringe." Yet on the July 22, 2001 "Evening News," reporter Sharyl Attkisson dusted off the conservative label in this voiceover of footage of the Pennsylvania senator:

Adding yet another twist to the President's dilemma, even conservative Senators from his own party are urging him to support stem cell research.

MRC Director of Research and NewsBusters Senior Editor Rich Noyes dug up the preceding and other juicy examples of media bias after combing through the MRC's 21-year archive of Notable Quotables.:

A Liberal's Kind of Conservative

Reporter Jim Miklaszewski: "Above all, Bush is advised to avoid the abortion question. Even conservatives warn that politically, it's just too hot to touch."
Senator Arlen Specter: "Well, I think that the President has a good bit to lose if we start to marshal a lot of people to look at this kind of issue when 1992, when the presidential election comes up."
-- June 30, 1991 NBC Nightly News. Specter has a lifetime American Conservative Union rating of 34 percent.

Arlen Specter: Source of All Evil

"The lowest point on the first day of the hearing came when Pennsylvania Republican Arlen Specter implied that Hill had simply fantasized Thomas' asking for dates and his lurid remarks about pornography. It is all but inconceivable that a similarly qualified man, black or white, would be accused not merely of lying but of imagining things."
-- Time Senior Editor Jack E. White, October 21, 1991.

"Arlen Specter took on this role as the Great Inquisitor. Some people [feminists] think he pilloried Anita Hill, that with his sort of low-blow hit on perjury, they're saying to a friend in Pennsylvania, who's been pro-choice, been on their side: 'How could you do this to me?'"
-- Time reporter Julie Johnson, October 18, 1991 Washington Week in Review.

"Arlen Specter accused her of perjury. If you read the record, Arlen Specter was the one who distorted what she said. Orrin Hatch even suggested that she got one of her charges by reading The Exorcist, I mean that she was besieged by demons. Orrin should really stick to talking dirty. He does that better. Alan Simpson, for those of us who were too young to know what Joe McCarthy was really like, Alan Simpson showed us. `I have in my pocket two dozen card-carrying smearers against this awful woman,' and then he produced those smears, those bombshells, and they were duds."
-- Wall Street Journal Washington Bureau Chief Al Hunt on CNN's Capital Gang, October 19, 1991.

Speaking of "Usual Suspects"....

"The usual suspects lined up with Packwood -- Alan Simpson, Jesse Helms, Arlen Specter, et cetera. Will they be hurt by a vote that Patty Murray tried to characterize as a with-us-or-agin-us women's rights vote?"
-- Today co-host Bryant Gumbel on the Bob Packwood diaries vote, Nov. 3, 1992. (In her book Inside Today, former Today producer Judy Kessler charged Gumbel with feeling for women's bras and making crude remarks.)

Alternative to the "Far Right Fringe"

"And now joining us from Philadelphia, Senator Arlen Specter, who casts himself as an alternative candidate to the far-right fringe."
-- Today weekend host Giselle Fernandez, February 19, 1995.

Heard of Bob Dole? Lamar Alexander?

"Republican moderates may have reason to feel more threatened than turkeys on this Thanksgiving. With Arlen Specter's out-of-money exit from the '96 White House race, they have no presidential candidate to call their own."
-- Judy Woodruff on CNN's Inside Politics, November 23, 1995.

Say You're Sorry, Arlen

"You know you, you angered a lot of feminists when you accused Anita Hill. In fact, you detailed how she changed her testimony during questioning, during the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings. And you accused of her publicly, quote, ‘Flat out perjury.' Any regrets?"
- Katie Couric to Sen. Arlen Specter, March 6, 2001 Today.

Jeffords Switch = Excuse To Push GOP Left

"Even top Republicans are acknowledging that some soul searching is necessary now regarding how dissenting voices are treated within the Republican Party. Even Senator Arlen Specter said Jeffords' defection is a very loud wake-up call. Isn't it?"
- Question to Karen Hughes from CBS's Jane Clayson, May 25, 2001 Early Show.

"Conservative" Arlen Specter

"Adding yet another twist to the President's dilemma, even conservative Senators from his own party are urging him to support stem cell research."
-- CBS's Sharyl Attkisson's voice-over of video of Republican Senator Arlen Specter, who has a lifetime conservative rating of only 41 percent from the American Conservative Union, on the July 22, 2001 Evening News.

CNN Presents "Words of Wisdom"

Anchor Wolf Blitzer: "Let's get some words of wisdom from Jack Cafferty. He's in New York right now. Jack?"
CNN's Jack Cafferty: "I don't know about wisdom, but you'll get a little outrage. We better all hope nothing happens to Arlen Specter, the Republican head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, because he might be all that's standing between us and a full-blown dictatorship in this country....Does it concern you that your phone company may be voluntarily providing your phone records to the government without your knowledge or your permission? If it doesn't, it sure as hell ought to...."
Blitzer: "Words of wisdom, as I said, Jack, outraged, as you clearly are. Thanks very much."
- CNN's The Situation Room, May 11, 2006.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters