Reporting on Sonia Sotomayor responding to questions about her "wise Latina" comments during Tuesday’s confirmation hearing, CBS’s Wyatt Andrews glossed over the multiple times she made the remark: "What did she mean in her 2001 speech to Hispanic law students at the University of California that "a wise Latina woman...would reach a better conclusion than a white male?"
In addition to the Evening News story, Andrews similarly reported on Wednesday’s Early Show: "She said it in a speech to a mostly Hispanic audience at the University of California in 2001." In reality, Sotomayor made some version of that controversial statement at least four other times during speeches in 1994, 1999, 2002, and 2004.
In the Early Show story, Andrews went on to depict the comment as an isolated incident: "At the hearing, she first explained she was trying to inspire the students, that she was misunderstood. But pressed hard by Senator John Kyl, she admitted to some overheated rhetoric...But she also argued the comment did not reflect some deep-seeded bias."
Former Democratic strategist-turned-journalist George Stephanopoulos appeared on Wednesday's Good Morning America to coo that Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor "didn't make any mistakes" and "did exactly what she had to do" in her confirmation hearings on Tuesday. In contrast, during Sam Alito's confirmation hearings in 2006, Stephanopoulos related Democratic complaints about membership in a supposedly discriminatory group.
The ex-Clinton aide enthused that Sotomayor brushed aside evidence that she was difficult to deal with: "On the question of bullying, she answered that with her manner all day long. No matter how many tough questions she got, she stayed even. She stayed calm. She stayed cool." He added, "She didn't meltdown. She didn't make any mistakes."
CNN's Wolf Blitzer late Tuesday afternoon characterized it as “an incredibly important exchange” and a “very, very dramatic moment” when Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor “concurred” with Senator Lindsey Graham that he would have paid a heavy price if he had ever maintained “a wise white man would make better decisions than a Latina,” yet neither ABC nor NBC mentioned in their evening newscasts Sotomayor's acknowledgment about the impact of her assertion “a wise Latina woman” would “reach a better conclusion than a white male” if reversed.
ABC's Jan Crawford Greenburg, who described the hearing as “grueling,” NBC's Pete Williams and CBS's Wyatt Andrews all highlighted Sotomayor's defense of her “wise Latina” reasoning, but none cited the exchange with Graham. CBS's Jeff Greenfield, however, noted Graham's point, if not Sotomayor's acceptance of it: “We saw Lindsey Graham of South Carolina -- very pointedly and conversationally -- saying to her, 'you know, if I'd said such things about the superiority of a Caucasian male I'd have had my head handed to me.'”
MSNBC hosts Tamron Hall and David Shuster on Tuesday repeatedly grumbled at the tough questions Senator Lindsey Graham posed to Sonia Sotomayor over the judge's ability to keep her feelings in check. At one point during live coverage, Shuster derided the lawmaker's remarks as "patronizing" and fretted that "the blogs are already going crazy over this." Hall saw the statements as insinuating the nominee is too "hot blooded."
The comments that drew the ire of the anchors were Graham's quizzing of Sotomayor as to reports that lawyers have found her difficult to deal with in the courtroom. Graham probed, "I never liked appearing before a judge who was a bully. Do you think you have a temperament problem?"
Co-host Hall vociferously objected to Graham's queries. Responding to news articles about the subject, she complained, "These are anonymous sources....One might read into this that he's [Graham] talking about her being a hot-blooded person or a woman who can't control her emotions."
NPR’s Nina Totenberg apparently needs to brush up on her knowledge of judicial philosophy and American jurisprudence. On the July 13 edition of “Charlie Rose,” Totenberg told Charlie Rose that Supreme Court nominee Sonya Sotomayor has “a pretty conservative record.” There are many words and phrases that could be used to accurately describe Sotamayor: intelligent, successful, to name a few. But conservative?
Totenberg went on to tell Rose that Sotomayor’s record is “very much in the mainstream,” and that “you could say that she's more conservative than some members of the Supreme Court, including Justice Scalia, perhaps.” Judge Sotomayor’s decision to uphold the New Haven firefighter case, Ricci v. DeStefano, which was overruled by the High Court this May, and whose majority included all four of the “conservative” justices, clearly illustrates that Sotomayor is in no way, shape, or form a conservative.
When a well-known individual creates a disruption at a highly public, widely televised event and is then arrested, any news organization worth the name would include the incident in its coverage of that event. Right?
Not CBS’ “Evening News with Katie Couric.” And NBC’s “Nightly News” only gave the story 21 words. On July 13, Norma McCorvey, better known as “Jane Roe” in the infamous Roe v. Wade case that made abortion legal, was arrested for disrupting Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings on Capitol Hill.
While discussing the Sotomayor confirmation hearings with former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, CBS Early Show co-host Harry Smith wondered: "Senator Lindsey Graham said, ‘unless you have a meltdown, you're going to get confirmed.’ So is this all theater then, or is this a process that should literally be paid attention to?"
Gonzales responded by describing the importance of a Supreme Court seat: "This is a lifetime appointment. She will be making decisions that will affect the lives of millions of Americans for decades. And so I think the members of the Senate have taken an oath of office to the Constitution and to the American people to ensure this is a person that should serve on the Supreme Court. So it's more than theater. I think it's – it’s a learning experience, a teaching experience."
Earlier, Smith asked Gonzales if Sotomayor’s assurances of objectivity would be enough for Republicans: "Because she pledged her fidelity to the law. She said, ‘my personal and professional experiences help me to listen and understand with the law always commanding the result in every case.’ Is that going to make any difference to Republicans? What she says and her track record?"
If you want to see how liberals in the media “do” their thing, nothing has been a better example than the analysis by CNN’s Jeffery Toobin. We’ve highlighted some on-air work of his Sotomayor coverage, but he also has a written piece on CNN.com that is a perfect example of how the left spins rhetoric to legitimize leftist precepts.
In his July 13 piece, for instance, Toobin calls Sotomayor a “cautious and careful liberal” like Ginsburg and Breyer. So, it makes one wonder, has Toobin ever called anyone on the right a “cautious and careful conservative”?
On the first day of Senate hearings, CBS's Wyatt Andrews on Monday night again insisted Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor cannot be categorized ideologically and highlighted how “the hearing marked the first spotlight moment for former comedian, now Senator, Al Franken who cast himself as new but ready,” all before anchor KatieCouric fretted “some Republicans didn't really treat her with kid gloves.”Couric and Bob Schieffer squeezed in just a few seconds for how a new CBS News poll discovered “President Obama's overall job approval rating is down six points since June.”
Back in May, Andrews insisted Sotomayor had “no clear ideology on discrimination, gay rights, or abortion and who can't be easily defined by political labels.” Monday evening, he spotlighted vindication in a month-old report (PDF) from the Congressional Research Service, which he stressed is “non-partisan,” that Sotomayor “defies categorization along ideological lines.”
Though the only critical comment CBS showed from a Republican Senator was a pretty mild one -- Lindsey Graham advising “I think your experience can add a lot to the court, but I don't think it makes you better than anyone else” -- Couric wondered: “As we saw, some Republicans didn't really treat her with kid gloves. If she's heading for confirmation, what do you think their objective was?”
On Monday’s Newsroom program, CNN’s senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin stuck with his analysis of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor from late June- that the judge was “mainstream,” and that it would be difficult to use the reversal of her decision in the New Haven firefighters case and her “Wise Latina” comment against her.
When anchor Rick Sanchez asked if one of those issues was more problematic, Toobin replied, “I think it’s a combination....some Republicans will use [it] to paint a picture of her as kind of an activist...someone who is more interested in helping her community than in interpreting the law. That’s a very tough sell, but I think that’s the argument that they’re building towards.”
During an earlier appearance on the June 29, 2009 edition of the CNN program with anchor Heidi Collins, the very day that the Supreme Court issued its ruling in the Ricci/firefighters case, the analyst stated that the decision “will be a main focus of the attack against her by conservative senators, who will say that her views are out of step with the Supreme Court. Now, that will be a somewhat-tough argument to make, because...her views are clearly in-step with four justices on the Court, including the justice she will be replacing. So, it’s not like her position was so far out the mainstream on this case that you couldn’t even get a single justice to agree with her.”
On Monday’s Fox and Friends, FNC judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano summarized the implications for the Supreme Court when President of liberal ideology is elected in a way rarely seen in the media. As he explained the goals that Republicans will have during this week’s confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor, Napolitano contended that electing a liberal President can lead to the appointment of judges with some of the "strange" and "odd" views and rulings exemplified by Sotomayor. Napolitano:
The Republicans want to accomplish making the country aware of the fact that when you elect a liberal Democrat as President, you get a judicial nominee with these strange ideas. Like, if you take a test, and you pass the test and you're supposed to get promoted, well, you won't get promoted because not enough people from another race passed the test. A lot of Americans will reject that attitude which she embraced. ... If they can show her as embracing odd attitudes like that, they can show up the President for being the liberal that we know he is and that the American people might not be willing to accept.
During live coverage of Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation hearing on Monday, MSNBC's Chris Matthews gushed about the judge's opening statement, saying "Well, I'm getting one of those thrills I get about America. I'm sorry, I'm shouldn't say this. And I'm getting it again." Matthews, who famously proclaimed that Barack Obama gave him a "thrill" up his leg, also offered a fawning aside about what a "genius" the President is.
Responding to a comment the Supreme Court nominee made about working hard to advance herself in school, the "Hardball" host followed-up his "thrill" remark by rhapsodizing, "When she talked about sitting at that table and not being a genius like Barack Obama, not being one of these people that can walk into a college scholarship, who had to sweat for it." [audio available here]
Responding to Senator Jeff Sessions describing Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor as a "typical liberal activist judge" CBS Early Show co-host Harry Smith argued: "You feel like her record indicates that? I mean, she gets a glowing review from the American Bar Association. Her record doesn't seem to necessarily match up with her – what – some of the things she said."
Later in the Monday interview, Smith defended Sotomayor’s record, particularly her decision in the New Haven firefighter case: "But basically, she was following precedent. I think people who would actually look at it would agree she was kind of acting as any judge in that position probably would – most judges would have acted in that position. Do you really believe – you really believe her words indicate that there are – she's a different person than her record would indicate?" Sessions replied: "I think philosophically her – her statements indicate an approach to judging that's outside the mainstream so far as I can tell."
On Monday, CBS correspondent Wyatt Andrews reported on the beginning of confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor and declared: "To Democrats, Sotomayor is the perfect nominee. That a child of the projects would progress through Ivy League schools and later a 17-year career as a federal judge makes hers an all-American story."
The Early Show segment began with co-host Julie Chen citing poll numbers that showed the American people were not fully impressed with that "all-American story": "A new CBS poll finds that 23% of Americans have a favorable opinion of Judge Sotomayor [decrease from 33% in June], while 15% were unfavorable [up from 9% in June]. 6 in 10 are still undecided or have not heard enough yet [62%, up from 58%]. And 35% say it's very important to have another woman on the high court." An on-screen graphic of the numbers showed a shift from June, but Chen failed to note the change in people’s attitudes toward Sotomayor.
New York Times White House reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg issued another flattering bunch of factoids about Obama's Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor -- she controls her diabetes: "Court Nominee Manages Diabetes With Discipline." Stolberg suggested that Sotomayor's "no-nonsense" approach to her insulin injections was a sign of how she will tackle Supreme Court cases.
Judge Sonia Sotomayor carries a small black travel pouch, not much larger than a wallet. It contains the implements she needs -- a blood sugar testing kit, a needle and insulin -- to manage diabetes, a disease she has had for 46 years. Friends say she is not shy about using it.
"She'll be eating Chinese dumplings," said Xavier Romeu Matta, a former law clerk to the judge, "and she'll say, 'Excuse me sweetie,' and pull out the kit and inject her insulin."
That no-nonsense attitude, combined with the attention to detail that characterizes her legal opinions, has been a hallmark of Judge Sotomayor's approach to Type 1 diabetes, according to friends, colleagues and her longtime doctor, Andrew Jay Drexler. An endocrinologist in Los Angeles, Dr. Drexler pronounced her "in very good health" in a letter provided by the White House.
The Washington Post’s Saturday story on the approaching Sonia Sotomayor confirmation hearings tried to suggest that conservative allegations that the New York appeals judge is a liberal activist who rules with her feelings have been crushed.
The trio of reporters Robert Barnes, Michael Shear, and Perry Bacon cited "one recent study" that readers might suppose is nonpartisan – but the cited study came from a very liberal, pro-Sotomayor source, the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University -- a think tank named after liberals' favorite activist justice. Here’s where that study emerged:
The White House and Sotomayor's supporters in the Senate and elsewhere say charges that she has let her feelings influence her rulings has not registered with the public in an environment roiled by the still-faltering economy and a showdown on health-care reform.
The allegation has also been refuted by a series of studies that show Sotomayor's decisions in 17 years as a district judge and on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit fit comfortably in the mainstream, if on the liberal edge of it. One recent study said that on matters of constitutional interpretation, she has sided with the majority 98 percent of the time.
On the eve of Senate hearings on the appointment of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, her supporters are urging the media to attack the Connecticut fireman in the middle of a key ruling she made that could impact the proceedings.
The only question is whether or not Obama-loving press will comply with these wishes...or is that really even a question?
While you ponder, the following was reported by McClatchy Friday:
Imagine, if you will, an expert on the federal judiciary told a Washington Post reporter a few years ago during the Sam Alito nomination that the conservative jurist took "a kind of carpet-bombing" approach to the law, showing a determination "not to just defeat the other side, but to annihilate it" when rendering his opinions from the bench.
It's hard to image that being buried deep in an article on the jurist.
But of course the nominee in question isn't Alito, it's President Obama's pick of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to replace outgoing liberal Justice David Souter. Post reporter Jerry Markon opened his July 9 front-pager -- "Uncommon Detail Marks Rulings by Sotomayor" -- by noting Sotomayor's "unusual" attention to detail for an appellate judge.
On Tuesday’s Special Report with Bret Baier on FNC, substitute anchor Megyn Kelly read a brief story informing viewers that now more people oppose the confirmation of Judge Sonia Sotomayor than support it. According to a new Rasmussen poll, those in opposition outnumber supporters by 39 to 37 percent, in contrast with its poll from two weeks ago which found she was favored 42 to 34 percent.
Kelly: "Well, public support for Judge Sotomayor appears to be slipping. A new Rasmussen Reports survey indicates just 37 percent support her confirmation now, while 39 percent oppose it. Compare that to two weeks ago, when her confirmation was favored by a 42 to 34 percent margin."
The Washington Post and The New York Times published similar Supreme Court "analysis" pieces on their front pages Wednesday offering the theme that the court under Chief Justice John Roberts is moving boldly to the right, and the confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor will have no effect on this bold shift. It sounded like two newspapers trying to cool down the controversy over judicial liberalism as the Sotomayor hearings approach.
The Post headline was "Term Saw High Court Move to the Right: Roberts-Led March Likely to Continue." Reporter Robert Barnes argued:
The court's term avoided the blockbuster decisions that at one point seemed inevitable. But its path was clear: a patient and steady move to the right led by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., one that is likely to continue even if President Obama is successful in adding Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the high court -- and perhaps two others like her.
While conservatives were unhappy with the incrementalism of some Roberts opinions, Barnes wrote:
Following up on Monday’s Supreme Court ruling in favor of New Haven firefighters who were denied promotion after no black applicants passed a written exam, ABC’s Bob Woodruff on Tuesday’s Good Morning America approached the decision from a liberal perspective, wondering if “the ruling really make future workplace discrimination harder to prove” — as opposed to wondering whether the ruling will protect workers from discriminatory tactics from employers seeking to achieve nebulous goals such as workplace “diversity.”
Woodruff also asked correspondent Jan Crawford Greenburg whether the ruling could “tarnish” the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor, who was part of a three-judge panel that ruled against the firefighters.
Greenburg stressed the arguments of Sotomayor’s supporters: “Oh, Bob, right away we saw critics say this was a clear rebuke to Judge Sotomayor, since she had ruled against those white firefighters. But, her supporters said, ‘Look, she was just following the law,’ and they pointed out that the Court, the Court itself, was deeply divided. The four liberal justices would have agreed with her, including that justice she’s been nominated to replace, David Souter.”
In the midst of pretty balanced ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscast stories on the Ricci reverse discrimination case involving New Haven firefighters, who were victorious, one quibble: CBS's Wyatt Andrews framed the ruling as issued by the Supreme Court's “conservative” justices and opposed not by liberals but by “civil rights leaders,” as if the majority of justices who ruled against the racial discrimination were not advancing civil rights.
Andrews announced that “in a close 5 to 4 decision, the court's swing vote, Anthony Kennedy, sided with conservatives,” before he set up a soundbite from a representative of the NAACP: “Civil rights leaders also predicted an era of confusion over when minorities are protected and when they are not.” The NAACP's John Payton declared: “I think it hurts the cause of having a discrimination-free workplace.”
Neither ABC's Jan Crawford Greenburg nor NBC's Pete Williams applied a conservative or liberal label.
On Monday’s Newsroom program, CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin couldn’t find a consistent argument about the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of New Haven firefighters who accused their city of reverse discrimination. Toobin first reported that Justice Kennedy, “the swing vote in this case, as in so many others,” wrote the decision, but minutes later, he labeled it as a ruling by “the five conservatives on the Court.”
When news of the Court’s decision broke early in the 10 am Eastern hour of the CNN program, anchor Heidi Collins brought on Toobin, the network’s senior legal analyst, to comment on the five to four ruling. He began with a summary: “The Supreme Court- five to four- in a decision by Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is the swing vote in this case, as in so many others, ruled that the New Haven firefighters were the victims of reverse discrimination.”
Here's something most likely to go unnoticed as the mainstream media continues reporting on the fallout of the New Haven firefighter case.
In his "Bench Memos" blog, National Review's Ed Whelan explains in "9-0 Against Sotomayor" how even the four liberal justices in today's Ricci v. DeStefano ruling thought Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor goofed in issuing summary judgment for New Haven when the case was before her (italics Whelan's, bold mine):
In footnote 10 of her dissent, Justice Ginsburg states: "Ordinarily, a remand for fresh consideration [whether the City of New Haven in fact had good cause to act] would be in order." But because the majority saw no need to remand, Ginsburg explains "why, if final disposition by this Court is indeed appropriate, New Haven should be the prevailing party." (Emphasis added.)
In other words, Ginsburg doesn't believe that final disposition of the case is appropriate. She and her fellow dissenters therefore believe that Sotomayor and her Second Circuit colleagues and the district court were wrong to grant summary judgment to the City of New Haven.
While discussing the appointment of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court on MSNBC Monday, guest Eliot Spitzer made a startling observation: "Democratic presidents nominate very centrist justices to the Supreme Court. The Republican presidents over the past 10-15 years have nominated very extremely conservative justices and that’s why the court has eschewed to the right."[audio available here]
Spitzer, the former Governor of New York who resigned from office in 2008 amid a sex scandal with a prostitute, went on to lament the unwillingness of Democratic presidents to appoint more liberal justices: "And the role of the Democratic judges – justices – has been to play the middle... And that is, I think, at a larger ideological point, a discussion we should have, because Democratic presidents have been hesitant to put really liberal justices on the court."
MSNBC anchor Dylan Ratigan, who was premiering his new show "The Morning Meeting," did not challenge Spitzer’s absurd assertions, but rather turned to Washington Post editorial writer Jonathan Capehart and asked: "Yeah, Jonathan what do you think about that? That the Republicans have papered it with very conservative judges and that Democrats have tried to go more middle or slightly left of center, as opposed to way left judges?" Capehart agreed with Spitzer: "Well look, I respect everything my – Governor Spitzer says."
As Dan Rather sees it and decrees it, Sonia Sotomayor will make a fine Supreme Court justice. So the former CBS Evening News anchor told MSNBC's Carlos Watson this morning. The pair were discussing the impact of the high court's reversal today of Sotomayor's pro-affirmative action ruling in the New Haven firefighters case.
In Rather's opinion, while Sotomayor would have preferred the Supreme Court to rule the other way, her confirmation will nonetheless sail through, and once she ascends to the bench, she will be "a very good" Supreme Court justice.
Good Morning America on Thursday unearthed archival footage that featured Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor on the show in 1986 complaining about discrimination against women. The clips highlighted her fretting, "There are different styles. And because of those styles, I think that's what affects the ability of women to get ahead in the workplace."
In the video, Sotomayor can be seen talking to then-GMA host Joan Lunden and asserting that men inadvertently discriminate against women: "Well, I found in my experiences that it's not that men are consciously discriminating against promoting women. But, I do believe that as people, we have self-images of what's good. And if you're a male that grew up professionally in a male-dominated profession, then your image of what a good lawyer is a male image."
For those who hold out hope that perhaps Sonia Sotomayor will be a pro-life surprise on the bench, there are sobering reminders. First, all of the modern "surprise" justices have been closet liberals appointed by Republicans. Clinton's appointees have hardly turned out to be closet conservatives.
Consider that from 1980 until October 1992, Judge Sotomayor served on the board -- at times as vice president and at times as chairman of the litigation committee -- of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund. The New York Times in 1992 described her as "a top policy maker on the board." During that time period, the fund filed briefs in not one, not two, but at least six prominent court cases in strong support of "abortion rights."
Reports have been circulated in the past few months that would suggest The Federalist Society will be marginalized under a new administration that places a greater premium on “empathy” than it does on the rule of law. But this assessment overlooks the enormous progress that has been made since the early 1980s in the re-establishment of “originalist” thinking in jurisprudence as an alternative to activism detached from the fixed meaning of the Constitution.
The dialogue now taking place in academic settings on the proper role of the judiciary and the importance of limited government that the society helped start is more vital now than ever with the nomination of Sonia Sotomayer to the U.S. Supreme Court. Although her confirmation is virtually assured, the overall ideological balance on the court is not likely to change.