NBC and ABC Barely Touch Kagan Hearings, CBS Promotes Her As 'Very Agile'

Jan Crawford, CBS While ABC's Good Morning America and NBC's Today spent little time on the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan on Tuesday, the CBS Early Show featured a report from legal correspondent Jan Crawford, who cheered Kagan finally being able respond to Republican "attacks" in a "very agile" way.

Good Morning America devoted only a single news brief early in the 7AM ET hour to the hearings as news reader JuJu Chang noted how Kagan "will be questioned by Republicans who say she is too liberal and too political." Chang added: "Kagan promised to take a modest approach to judging."  

On Today, correspondent Kelly O'Donnell offered only a brief 7:09AM report on the hearings: "Weeks after her nomination, seated in silence for hours, finally Elena Kagan gets to make her case....[she] describes herself as a daughter of the American dream." O'Donnell described the arguments from both sides of the aisle: "No surprise, Democrats praised her intellect and the chance to broaden the Supreme Court....Saying they would be respectful, Republicans did not hesitate to get tough. From abortion rights to immigration, they found various ways to call her liberal." In an 8:04AM news brief, news reader Natalie Morales declared: "Republicans portrayed Kagan as a liberal activist with no judicial experience. Kagan promised an even-handed approach to the law."

In contrast, the Early Show devoted a full 7:10AM segment to Kagan, as fill-in co-host Chris Wragge proclaimed: "Day two of Elena Kagan's Senate confirmation hearings get underway this morning and the gloves are expected to come off." Crawford began the report that followed by observing: "After nearly two months of public silence while Republicans attacked her, Elena Kagan was sworn in and answered back. She vowed to uphold the law fairly."

Crawford previewed Tuesday's hearings: "...today the questions and the fireworks begin. Republicans say the questions won't be easy, as they try to paint her as a liberal activist." Wragge asked about the tone of the hearings: "...every word yesterday from Elena was just so measured and so deliberate. Can we expect more of that today with every response from the questions she'll be fielding?" Crawford replied: "No, it's going to have a very different tone today....they're really going to start pressing her on all these issues....what we'll see today is how agile and how effective she is at answering those and responding to those, engaging these senators without saying anything that can be held against her."

Wragge concluded the segment by asking Crawford to predict Kagan's performance. Crawford responded by gushing: "I think she's going to do, actually, very, very well. I've seen her argue before the Supreme Court. She's very agile, she spars with those conservative justices very well, so I don't think these Republicans are going to have too much of an easy time, you know, pressing her on some of these issues."

Here is a full transcript of Crawford's June 29 report:
7:10AM

CHRIS WRAGGE: Day two of Elena Kagan's Senate confirmation hearings get underway this morning and the gloves are expected to come off. CBS News chief legal correspondent Jan Crawford is on Capitol Hill with a look at today's session. Jan, good morning.

JAN CRAWFORD: Good morning, Chris. Well, you know Elena Kagan really stayed out of the public eye for two months and Americans finally got a glimpse of her, but today, she's going to face a lot of questions from the Republicans on this side of the aisle and they're going to see if she can handle the heat. After nearly two months of public silence while Republicans attacked her, Elena Kagan was sworn in and answered back. She vowed to uphold the law fairly.

ELENA KAGAN: I will listen hard to every party before the court and to each of my colleagues.

CRAWFORD: And she told a bit of her life story.

KAGAN: My parents lived the American dream. They grew up in immigrant communities. My mother didn't speak a word of English until she went to school. But she became a legendary teacher and my father a valued lawyer.

CRAWFORD: Kagan sat stoically for hours while senators gave their opening statements, but today the questions and the fireworks begin. Republicans say the questions won't be easy, as they try to paint her as a liberal activist.

JEFF SESSIONS: It's not a coronation, as I've said, but a confirmation process. Serious and substantive questions will be asked.

CRAWFORD: But Democrats will be ready to come to her defense.

CHARLES SCHUMER: She is brilliant, she is thoughtful, and I think she is straight out of central casting for this job.

SESSIONS: But proving that to the senators is what Elena Kagan is going to have to do and it all starts, Chris, in just a couple of hours.

WRAGGE: Jan, the last thing I would ever do is sit here and say this has got to be pretty easy on someone, but every word yesterday from Elena was just so measured and so deliberate. Can we expect more of that today with every response from the questions she'll be fielding?

CRAWFORD: No, it's going to have a very different tone today, Chris. You know, yesterday, her face – I mean, she really showed no expression all day, she just sat there and listened to these senators deliver these long opening statements. So today they're really going to start pressing her on all these issues that they've got ready. So what we'll see today is how agile and how effective she is at answering those and responding to those, engaging these senators without saying anything that can be held against her.

WRAGGE: And quickly, on a separate note here, I want to talk about this Supreme Court ruling. They ruled that had state and local governments cannot ban guns. Now what's the importance, if you can just tell us quickly, of this 5-4 decision?

CRAWFORD: Chris, this was a huge ruling that basically extended gun rights nationwide. It said cities and states across the country cannot flatly outright ban handguns, that you have a fundamental right to own a gun in your own home to protect yourself.

WRAGGE: Can I ask you real quickly, you know Elena Kagan very well. How do you think she'll perform today?

CRAWFORD: I think she's going to do, actually, very, very well. I've seen her argue before the Supreme Court. She's very agile, she spars with those conservative justices very well, so I don't think these Republicans are going to have too much of an easy time, you know, pressing her on some of these issues.

WRAGGE: Alright, Jan Crawford, thank you very much. We look forward to your report later on today.

CRAWFORD: Thanks, Chris.
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC