As first reported by Matt Cover at the Media Research Center's news wing CNSNews.com, Kagan offers up this gem:
"If there is an ‘overabundance' of an idea in the absence of direct governmental action -- which there well might be when compared with some ideal state of public debate -- then action disfavoring that idea might ‘un-skew,' rather than skew, public discourse."
So if talk radio suffers from an "overabundance" of conservative voices, government action to "un-skew" this particular public discourse is just fine by her.
Hello so-called "Fairness" Doctrine. Not to mention Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Diversity Czar Mark Lloyd's liberally "skewed" interpretations of FCC "media diversity" and "localism" rules.
For absurdly spinning Elena Kagan to the right, consider Washington Post editorial writer Eva Rodriguez, who asked in Tuesday's newspaper: “Is Kagan a bleeding heart or right-wing Bushie?” Specifically, Rodriguez argued Kagan took positions “loathed by the left” that would deny the broadest menu of civil liberties to terrorist suspects:
So which Kagan are we getting: the warm and fuzzy defender of Obama's "little guy" or the hard-right ideologue who would have fit right in as a "loyal Bushie"? The truth: Maybe both, maybe neither. We don't know. At least not yet.
Brent Baker remembered NPR reporter Nina Totenberg found Judge John Roberts carried conservatism to wretched excess. On NPR's All Things Considered back in 2005, she prefaced “conservative” with three verys, describing him as “a very, very, very conservative man.” But in a taped soundbite on the next day's Good Morning America on ABC, she cut back to merely “a very, very conservative man.”
But Totenberg matched other media liberals in finding no measurable ideology in Elena Kagan when her nomination was announced. Within minutes (for the West Coast stations still in Morning Edition time), Totenberg could only exclaim Kagan was "was a star student at Princeton, at Oxford, at Harvard Law School -- then clerked for the man she calls her mentor, Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, who used to refer to her as Shorty."
It’s more than a little tiresome to contemplate that every current liberal Supreme Court justice was touted by the national media as a moderate or even a conservative when they were originally announced, from John Paul Stevens to Sonia Sotomayor. Dan Rather even claimed the last retiree, David Souter, was dangerously “anti-women’s rights” when he was nominated in 1990. So it was less than shocking that the latest liberal nominee, Elena Kagan, drew the same phony “moderate” baloney.
ABC anchor Diane Sawyer greeted the nomination with goo: “She is expected to play a role as somewhat of a conciliator, the bridge across the conservative and liberal wings of the Court. In fact, she loves opera, which Justice Scalia loves.” What more evidence of her judicial philosophy do we need?
CNN's Jack Cafferty expressed skepticism of President Barack Obama's nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court during a commentary on Tuesday's Situation Room. After outlining Kagan's elite background, Cafferty noted that many thought that "someone who has spent so much time in elite academic settings is out-of-touch with average Americans."
The CNN commentator began by pointing out a promised made by the President in the past: "President Obama promised us all Supreme Court candidates who can relate to the real world and how the law affects ordinary Americans, but there are questions about whether Elena Kagan fits that description. Kagan comes from a world unknown to most Americans: from Manhattan's Upper West Side, to Princeton University, and on to Harvard Law School."
60 Minutes journalist Lesley Stahl on Monday appeared on Morning Joe and touted Barack Obama's Supreme Court pick as a "mediator" who was chosen "in his image." The CBS correspondent enthused that a conciliator is "what [Obama] was." [Audio available here.]
Continuing the media spin that Elena Kagan might not be a liberal, Stahl proclaimed the judge's moderation: "And that he went for that instead of a brilliant ideological liberal to sort of balance Scalia."
In a seemingly contradictory moment, Stahl extolled, "I love that she's a woman and it's not a big deal." But, she then lobbied for a quota system for females on the court: "And we need to have six. We're halfway there."
But the early stories on President Obama’s nomination of Elena Kagan routinely avoided describing her as a liberal. In six evening news stories and eight morning news segments since her official press conference on Monday morning, the broadcast networks have employed only one liberal label, on CBS. ABC and NBC offered none.
Do Republican presidents really pick "strong conservatives" for Supreme Court nominations, while Democrats are reduced to picking moderates who end up disappointing true liberals? Clinton's 1993 liberal nominee, former ACLU lawyer Ruth Bader Ginsburg, would seem to rebut that view, as would George H.W. Bush's 1990 selection of David Souter, who moved to the left upon appointment to the dismay of conservatives.
Kagan serves as solicitor general and was dean of Harvard Law School. Strongly pro-choice and pro-gay rights, her condemnation of the military's policy of "Don't Ask Don't Tell" led her to ban military recruiters from the campus. Yet the Times forwarded liberal complaints that Kagan may not be sufficiently activist to hold up the liberal wing of the Supreme Court.
In an interview with Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith lamented President Obama's nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court: "Liberals feel let down because she would be filling a seat left by John Paul Stevens, they don't feel like she's enough – has enough gravitas to fill his shoes."
In his first question to Biden, Smith fretted: "Some people have said she's a person so careful as to leave no footprint. Do you really know what you're getting? Do the American people know what they're getting?" Smith went on to question Kagan's qualifications: "she's never been a public defender, she's never been a prosecutor, she's never been a judge. Most of her career has been in Washington or in an ivy or ivory tower."
In an interview with Republican Senator Jeff Sessions immediately following the Biden interview, co-host Maggie Rodriguez went so far as to wonder if Kagan would have a conservative influence on the court: "When she worked for the Clinton administration, Ms. Kagan asked the President to support a ban on all abortions of viable fetuses except when the mother's health was at risk. And some analysts have used that example to show that she may actually shift the court to the Right, compared with Justice Stevens. How do you respond to that?"
Twice in the span of ten minutes, MSNBC on Tuesday ran segments touting left-wing complaints that Elena Kagan may not be "liberal enough." News Live host Peter Alexander seriously speculated of the Supreme Court pick: "...But who is really most frustrated with the pick? It seems as many liberal groups are upset by this as are conservatives."
Later in the 10am hour, Alexander worried, "And also right now on the left, she may not be liberal enough. That's the complaint there. Some progressives say she's too much of a blank slate to know how she stands on any issue." He also uncritically listed the issues Kagan is supposedly conservative on, including "supporting banning late term abortions."
In what may be a sign of the media's confidence that Elena Kagan will be easily confirmed to the Supreme Court, NBC's Matt Lauer, on Tuesday's Today show, didn't feel the need to sell Kagan to viewers and actually asked somewhat tough questions to Vice President Joe Biden. Lauer even hit Biden from the right when he asked the following: "When we say maybe does she or does she not understand the plight of ordinary people, is that even important? Isn't the job of a Supreme Court justice to understand the Constitution only and interpret it?"
However Lauer returned to liberal form, when questions turned to the oil spill in the Gulf when he pressed: "Given the fact we're facing an environmental and economic disaster here Mr. Vice President, are the President's plans to expand offshore drilling dead in the water?...Are people gonna have an appetite for more drilling after all this?
The following is the full interview with Biden as it was aired on the May 11 Today show:
At The New Yorker website (his other gig), CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin explained that he is a longtime friend of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan and went to law school with her, even studied with her in a small group -- and yet, her political views are somehow a "mystery" to him. Not even liberals are buying this (take Matthew Yglesias at Think Progress). Toobin stated:
The justices are not really managers of people, certainly not in comparison to the dean of a major law school. Judgment, values, and politics are what matters on the Court. And here I am somewhat at a loss. Clearly, she’s a Democrat. She was a highly regarded member of the White House staff during the Clinton years, but her own views were and are something of a mystery. She has written relatively little, and nothing of great consequence.
In quite a contrast to the immediate tagging of the Bush and Obama Supreme Court nominees as “conservative” (and that includes Sonya Sotomayor), on Monday night ABC and NBC refrained from applying any ideological description to Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan while CBS snuck in one. CBS's Jan Crawford declared “her career has put her solidly on the left,” but contended “she will have significant conservative support among academics and lawyers” and warned “that support alarms some liberals.”
Amongst the non-ideological superlatives: ABC's Diane Sawyer trumpeted the “historic nomination” of the “five foot three inch powerhouse,” CBS's Crawford insisted “her interests reflect her openness. She loves softball and poker” (poker reflects “openness”?) and NBC's Pete Williams hailed her as an “accomplished poker player, opera lover.”
ABC, CBS and NBC all highlighted Kagan's high school yearbook picture of her in a robe and holding a gavel (ABC's Moran: “Even in high school, check out her yearbook photo here, she had her sights set on the high court”), but none pointed out the explicitly very liberal polemical points she made just a year or two later, nor did CNN's The Situation Room.
In the 7:30AM ET half hour on Monday's CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez lobbed softballs to disgraced former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer about his college friend and Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan: "She's been labeled as moderate. If you had to put a label on her, would you say that one is accurate?" A headline on screen read: "Who is Elena Kagan?"
Spitzer replied: "I guess you could say moderate....it's very hard to pigeon hole her." Rodriguez's question was prompted by his insistence that Kagan "is not an ideologue of the Left or the Right and that is clear from what she did as dean of Harvard Law School. Just a perfect temperament to be a justice." Of course, during Kagan's tenure as dean of Harvard Law, she pushed for military recruiters to be barred from campus because of her opposition to 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy.
Rodriguez wondered about Kagan's college days: "Can you think of a story or an anecdote from back then?" Spitzer recalled: "a friend and I were going back and forth about who could eat more, she goaded us into having a spaghetti eating contest." Rodriguez looked for the best way to spin the story to make it relevant: "I'm trying to take something from that, could it be that she's persuasive, can bring people together, which is what the President is hoping?" In response, Spitzer declared that once on the Supreme Court, Kagan "will get the fifth vote."
President Barack Obama's second nominee to the Supreme Court, Elena Kagan, is drawing fire from both liberals and conservatives to such an extent that her challenge in the confirmation hearings "will be to show that while she may hail from Harvard, she has the heart of an empathetic, all-American patriot."
At least that's Stuart Taylor Jr.'s take in a May 10 Newsweek "Web exclusive" that garnered prominent real estate on the magazine's Web site today (see screencap above at right).
Taylor presented Kagan more as a technocratic "establishmentarian" than an ideologue or partisan, despite her current and former affiliations with the Obama and Clinton administrations respectively:
Who said the cable networks were predictable? The Elena Kagan nomination has drawn surprising fire from Obama-friendly Roland Martin of CNN, and surprising praise from Fox News legal analyst Lis Wiehl. In a CNN.com commentary, Martin hammered Kagan's record of hiring a pile of whites at Harvard Law:
Guy-Uriel Charles, founding director of the Duke Law Center on Law, Race and Politics, has heavily scrutinized Kagan's hiring record as head of Harvard Law School. In a scathing blog post, he has said that of the 29 positions Kagan had a chance to fill, 28 were white and one was Asian-American. And of the group, only six were women -- five white and one Asian-American.
These numbers on the surface are appalling, and would be ripped to shreds by those who value diversity, but my gut tells me that even though Kagan has been tapped by Obama, the normally vocal and persistent voices in this area will be tight-lipped and quiet, unwilling to oppose or heavily criticize the nomination of a woman to the court, and especially one made by an African-American Democratic president.
What has gotten into Roland? He sounds like Tavis Smiley all of a sudden, suggesting Obama isn't serving the black community with enough affirmative action:
On Monday's GMA, ABC's George Stephanopoulos dealt with the Elena Kagan Supreme Court nomination by interviewing former Obama official Greg Craig, but no one from the conservative/Republican side as a guest. The anchor did raise potential threats to Kagan's nomination, but failed to follow through when Craig omitted a key detail about the nominee's anti-military record as dean of Harvard Law School.
Stephanopoulos led off the interview, which began 8 minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour, with a softball question: "What's the single thing that impresses President Obama most about Kagan?" After the former White House counsel and former Clinton administration official played up Kagan's allegedly "extraordinary" amount of experience, the ABC anchor then asked, "What do you think is the single greatest threat to her nomination- to confirmation?"
NBC and ABC on Thursday night framed stories around concerns of “abortion rights” advocates who want proof Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor is on their side, but both cloaked their pieces around the proposition “both sides” of the debate are equally worried.
With “Where Does She Stand?” as the on-screen heading, as if there is genuine belief Obama would have selected the judge without knowing she'd uphold Roe v Wade, NBC anchor Lester Holt set up a story through the prism of pro-abortion activists as he announced that White House “spokesman Robert Gibbs says the President did not specifically ask her about the right to privacy, a key issue in the abortion debate.” Reporter Pete Williams proceeded to declare that Sotomayor's stand on abortion is “a mystery” as “both sides on the abortion issue agree...they're eager to know exactly what Sonia Sotomayor thinks about abortion and the constitution.” Viewers then heard only from one side, an “abortion rights advocate.”
Amazingly, after showing no reluctance in 2005 to describe John Roberts and Sam Alito as “conservative” or worse, the Tuesday network evening newscasts, particularly ABC and NBC, applied more “conservative” tags to Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor's critics than “liberal” labels to her, as the coverage suggested calling her a liberal was a hasty judgment from accusatory partisans. In total, ABC's World News and the NBC Nightly News combined for a piddling two uses of the “liberal” term while issuing a “conservative” tag eight times. (CBS viewers heard “liberal” four times and “conservative” just once.)
Setting up a look at Sotomayer's record, ABC anchor Charles Gibson fretted about how conservatives had “already” assessed her: “Even before the President announced his decision, conservatives were reviewing Judge Sotomayor's judicial record and were already saying she would be an activist on the court.” Jan Crawford Greenburg then framed any notion of Sotomayer as liberal as based on accusations from conservatives: “...which conservatives have called code for,” “...conservatives today seized on this comment” and “already, conservatives have jumped on the decision.”
Over on NBC, Pete Williams presumed a conflict between her rise from poverty and being liberal: “Despite her remarkable personal odyssey, Judge Sotomayor is already being called a liberal activist by some conservative groups.” (That sentence included NBC's only liberal label utterance during four segments.)
During ABC’s live coverage of President Obama’s nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, Diane Sawyer and a quartet of correspondents failed to find a single thing to criticize about the new nominee. Instead, Sawyer touted it as a “history making day” (although why is unclear, since she's the fifth woman to be nominated), and touted Kagan as a feminist “trailblazer” and a “conciliator” between “the conservative and liberal wings of the Court.”
Good Morning America co-anchor George Stephanopoulos agreed Kagan had a “reputation for bringing conservatives and liberals together,” and recounted how he and Kagan worked side-by-side in Bill Clinton’s White House: “She does have a great temperament, very easy-going, a good sense of humor.” Then, as Kagan and President Obama strode to the podium, Sawyer quoted the nominee complimenting herself: “We had a soundbite from her saying she had a reputation for being a very good teacher.”