In the 48 hours following President Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, CBS correspondent Jan Crawford had a tough time deciding whether he was a “moderate” pick to appease Republicans or a “solid liberal vote” to satisfy left-wing activists. In the end, she concluded he was both.
Just hours before the President named Garland on Wednesday, Crawford appeared on CBS This Morning to label the chief D.C. Appeals Court judge “no liberal firebrand” and a “compromise.” On Thursday, Crawford reiterated he was “a moderate, a centrist.” She admitted he was “certainly liberal,” but not a “liberal flame-thrower.”
By Friday, as liberal groups and even Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders began to complain that Garland was not liberal enough, Crawford once again took to the morning show and seemed to contradict her two previous days of reporting: “I mean, Sanders may have his concerns but there is no evidence that Garland would be anything other than a liberal justice....Now, Garland also doesn't bring diversity, so some groups on the left, you know, aren't all that fired up. But he would be a solid liberal vote...”
During the Friday report, Crawford scolded Republicans for not meeting with the nominee: “And as he started his visits here on Capitol Hill, other Democrats gave him a warm welcome....Most of Republican doors are closed.”
She touted how Senator Patrick Leahy “stepped up the pressure on Republicans” and played a soundbite of the Vermont Democrat ranting: “I think they owe it to their constituents, they owe it to the country, more importantly, they owe it to the Constitution.”
Crawford observed: “The White House is hoping with enough pressure Republicans will cave.”
NBC’s Today also covered the Supreme Court fight on Friday, with correspondent Pete Williams similarly noting: “It's a Supreme Court nominee's ordeal, meeting senators one on one, hoping to win them over for a confirmation vote. But so far, the welcome mat is out only at the offices of Democrats...”
Williams wrapped up his report by touting liberal astrotrurf activism:
The White House released this photo of President Obama meeting with Garland and said Mr. Obama told supporters in a conference call Thursday to make themselves heard in demanding confirmation hearings. The Supreme Court's remaining eight justices are back in the courtroom next week and White House supporters are launching a website to push for Garland's confirmation, WeNeedNine.org.
ABC’s Good Morning America did not cover the topic on Friday.
Here is a full transcript of Crawford’s March 18 report:
7:08 AM ET
GAYLE KING: The Vermont senator [Bernie Sanders] is also offering a critique of the President's Supreme Court pick. Sanders says he strongly supports the nomination of Merrick Garland, but, if he wins the election in November he says he would ask the President to withdraw the name. He wants a more progressive Justice. This morning, Republicans remain united in their refusal to consider Garland. Jan Crawford is on Capitol Hill, where the partisan fight is spilling into the Senate’s Easter recess. Jan, good morning.
JAN CRAWFORD: Well, good morning. I mean, Sanders may have his concerns but there is no evidence that Garland would be anything other than a liberal justice. And as he started his visits here on Capitol Hill, other Democrats gave him a warm welcome.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: A Supreme Mission; Garland Visits Senators Despite GOP Roadblock Vow]
Garland's first meetings were friendly. Starting with the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, who stepped up the pressure on Republicans.
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY [D-VT]: I think they owe it to their constituents, they owe it to the country, more importantly, they owe it to the Constitution.
CRAWFORD: Most of Republican doors are closed. Only a handful have singled they will meet with Garland, although Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley left open a crack.
SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY [R-IA]: It's a case of an hour meeting with Judge Garland. You know, it's pretty hard to say no to that. If I can meet with a dictator in Uganda, I can surely meet with a decent person in America.
CRAWFORD: The White House is hoping with enough pressure Republicans will cave. For now, they’re holding the line for the next president.
SEN. DAVID PERDUE [R-GA]: The responsible course of action is to avoid the political theater.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL [R-KY]: Republicans think the people deserve a voice in this critical decision.
SEN. JOHN CORNYN [R-TX]: The American people deserve to be heard and their voice heeded.
CRAWFORD: In a conference call with supporters, President Obama said that issue was settled. “The American people did have a say back in 2012 when they elected me president.”
MAKAN DELRAHIM: The biggest challenge for the White House is going to be keeping the attention of the American people.
CRAWFORD: Makan Delrahim, former Judiciary Committee chief counsel, says to prevail, the White House will have to keep beating that drum.
DELRAHIM: You have outsized personalities as candidates. And there are going to be issues that will be coming up, and, you know, I don't think the American people are going to be paying as much attention to the nomination of Judge Garland.
CRAWFORD: Now, Garland also doesn't bring diversity, so some groups on the left, you know, aren't all that fired up. But he would be a solid liberal vote, and with his temperament and intellect, perhaps someone who could build consensus on a court of nine. John?
JOHN DICKERSON: Jan, thank you.