Is Alito's First Name "Conservative"? You'd Think so to Listen to Today Show

When Bill Clinton nominated ACLU general counsel Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the Supreme Court, what are the odds that, in the very first sentence of its report, the Today show described Ginsburg as "liberal"? Roughly the same as the Saints winning this year's Super Bowl, perhaps?

Yet this is how Katie Couric opened Today this morning: "Breaking news: President Bush is nominating conservative judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court."

Matt Lauer got into the spirit, adding Alito "is so consistently conservative he has been called 'Scalito,'" i.e., in the mold of Justice Antonin Scalia.

Tim Russert then weighed in, expressing skepticism that Alito could get 60-65 Senate votes.  Russert did acknowledge that Ted Kennedy praised Alito when he was nominated to the Appeals Court, but explained that that was 15 years ago and Kennedy will will make a distinction now that Alito is being nominated to the Supreme Court.

Couric then interviewed law prof Jonathan Turley, with Katie describing Turley as having been "absolutely brutal" in his initial comments on Harriet Miers' nomination, having called her "an amazingly bad choice."

Turley predicted a melee over Alito: "I think it's going to get pretty sporty around here.  There's a lot in Alito's background that is going to coalesce Democratic groups."

Turley foresaw Alito as being to join the Court's "hard right.  There will be no one to the right of Sam Alito on this court,"  he observed.

"Not even Scalia?" asked a shocked Couric. 

"So no smooth sailing for the confirmation hearings?" asked Katie.  "I think the Democrats are going to come out of the dugout on this one," predicted Turley

Katie inquired whether in picking Alito "ideology trumped gender?"

"No one on the conservative base can be unhappy with Alito.  The question is whether they can weather this storm," answered Turley.

Finkelstein has degrees from Cornell, SUNY Buffalo and Harvard. He lives in Ithaca, NY where he hosts "Right Angle," a local political talk TV show. He is currently seeking a publisher for his anti-terrorism thriller, "Albergue Olimpico."

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.