ABC’s “Good Morning America” program on Wednesday led their 7 am Eastern hour with three positive reports about Judge Sonia Sotomayor, highlighting her judicial background and personal story.
Anchor Diane Sawyer began the program with a promo of this coverage: “The battle begins: How will President Obama’s Latina powerhouse handle the opposition?...And we also go home to bring you personal details about the girl from the housing projects, nominated for the Supreme Court.”
Correspondent Claire Shipman went so far as to play up trivial details from the nominee’s personal life: “She’s also an avid Yankees fan, a mean guacamole maker, and a fierce biker.” None of the coverage explained how making a killer chip dip adds to her qualifications for the Supreme Court.
After Sawyer’s initial promo, fellow anchor Chris Cuomo immediately chimed in and highlighted the presence of Sotomayor’s mother at the president’s press conference: “Now, I know that the selection of a nominee to the Court is supposed to be about the law and philosophy, but what a human moment to see Sonia Sotomayor talking about her mother. It was really a great human moment yesterday. There’s her mom, literally brought to tears by such a special occasion.”
The two anchors then turned to correspondent Jonathan Karl, who outlined how the two parties on Capitol Hill saw the judicial pick: “Democrats are praising her as a brilliant legal scholar and the embodiment of the American dream....To conservatives, Sotomayor is a liberal activist who uses the courts to impose her personal views.”
During the second segment, Cuomo asked ABC News legal correspondent Jan Crawford Greenburg, “Time will tell, but in terms of the record, nothing is sticking out there in terms of, here is a line of thinking, or judicial philosophy, that Sotomayor has come up with that’s controversial?” Greenburg focused on the “empathy” trait emphasized by President Obama:
JAN CRAWFORD GREENBURG: On that federal appeals court, she’s done a lot of technical, business cases, like you said, not a lot of those hot button issues. But President Obama, in a way, teed this up pretty nicely for Republicans by saying he was looking for empathy. So now you’re going to see a lot of the Republicans kind of scouring her record for any clues on where she might have relied on her feelings, instead of just looking at the law -- which conservatives, of course, say is -- that’s what you’re supposed to do.
Correspondent Claire Shipman’s report on Sotomayor’s personal background was the most glowing of the three segments. It had all the marks of a human interest story:
CLAIRE SHIPMAN: Even as a little girl, growing up in a drug-ridden South Bronx housing project, stricken with juvenile diabetes, she had that trademark knack: instead of seeing dead ends, young Sonia saw possibilities; instead of giving up, she investigated every angle....Friends say her family and her Latina heritage are critical to her life....She’s also an avid Yankees fan, a mean guacamole maker, and a fierce biker.