"Good Morning America's" Claire Shipman on Wednesday conducted a fawning, mostly content-free interview with Supreme Court pick Sonia Sotomayor's brother about his sister's love for Salsa dancing, among other light topics. The ABC reporter asked Juan Sotomayor only one question on the substance of the nominee's comments that a "wise Latina" judge would come to a better conclusion than a white man.
After Shipman prompted, "I read somewhere she says she likes to party," the judge's sibling informed viewers, "She loves to party. She loves dancing. Had her 50th birthday party and she learned how to Salsa." Americans were also instructed on such pertinent information as the fact that, as a young girl, Sotomayor "loved reading Archie, and Casper and Richie Rich." Shipman, however, dwelled on Juan Sotomayor's anger towards criticism of his sister. She related, "And when we asked Juan what he thought about some conservative critics suggesting his sister is a racist, I thought he might jump out of his seat."
WARNING: Viewing the accompanying video could cause a dangerous rise in blood-sugar levels.
When Clarence Thomas was approaching his confirmation hearings, we all remember the touching, sentimental segments the networks ran on his challenging childhood. Or not.
On today's GMA, ABC's Claire Shipman took a sentimental stroll down memory lane with Dr. Juan Sotomayor, Sonia's likable younger brother. At one point, viewing a display about his sister in their old high school in the Bronx, Juan gets choked up. And there's Claire, shown not once but twice reaching out a comforting arm to console the Sotomayor sibling.
On Sunday’s This Week roundtable, ABC national correspondent Claire Shipman tried to argue that it would be “very hard” for Republicans to label Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor a liberal. “When you look at Sotomayor's record and look at the cases, it's very hard for people to make the case that she's a typical, you know, elite liberal judicial philosopher,” Shipman declared.
That was too much even for liberal columnist Cynthia Tucker, who is currently the editorial page editor of the Atlantic Journal-Constitution but will this summer move to Washington as the paper’s D.C.-based political columnist. “She is certainly liberal, she’s called herself liberal,” Tucker informed Shipman, but agreed that Sotomayor is “nobody’s knee-jerk radical.”
The article, written by Peter Baker and Jo Becker, does mention in passing the fact that she has used the quote on multiple occasions, but it did so in the manner of emphasizing her “focus on diversity and struggle.”
Cokie Roberts appeared on Friday's "Good Morning America" and agreed with Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor's 1994 comment that a wise woman would come to a better conclusion than a man. Roberts, cheered, "Of course, I would agree with her that they're better." Fellow ABC journalist Sam Donaldson empathized that if the judge made a mistake, "it was a Joe Biden problem. She blurted out the truth." [Audio available here]
Throughout two segments on the program, various reporters and guests justified Sotomayor's comments. Roberts attempted to explain away the comments, which are in addition to the now famous 2001 "wise Latina" quote. She sympathized to co-host Diane Sawyer, "You go before these big women's groups. And, Diane, I'm sure you've done it. I've certainly done it many times." With no hint of controversy, Roberts added, "And you do say things that kind of rev up the crowd and get women excited. And one of those things that you do say is that women are better than men."
CNN’s Soledad O’Brien went so far to use the role of food in “ethnic identity” to support Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor during Thursday’s “Newsroom” program. When she was asked about Sotomayor’s now-infamous “wise Latina” remark from 2001, O’Brien bizarrely cited a more culinary part of the nominee’s speech where she talked about “pig’s feet and the other special dishes particular, not just to Puerto Ricans, but many Latino families.”
Anchor Heidi Collins first read Sotomayor’s “wise Latina” remark in 2001 to set up O’Brien’s sympathetic and unusual take on the nominee: “Soledad, some people would say the context is not complete with that comment, and because of that, as usual, when you don’t have context, something might be lost?” The CNN special correspondent wholeheartedly agreed and replied that people should read the entire 2001 speech. She continued with her first emphasis on Sotomayor’s ethnic identity: “Puerto Ricans are Americans. She is not an immigrant to this country. What formed her identity, she says, are the shared traditions. And here’s a little bit of what she says about the food. She says, ‘For me, a very special part of being Latina is the mucho platos de arroz, gandoles y pernir- rice, beans and pork- that I have eaten at countless family holidays and special events.’ This is during her speech- she says in the speech back in 2001. She goes on to talk about the pig’s feet and the other special dishes particular, not just to Puerto Ricans, but many Latino families.”
I'm sure the talk show host can defend himself just fine; however, the following shows just how low MSNBC will go to trash Republicans and conservatives any chance they get. On last night's Rachel Maddow Show, the host used a long-known ersatz quote supposedly uttered by Rush Limbaugh to, well, y'know, get some cheap digs in:
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, CONSERVATIVE RADIO TALK SHOW HOST (discussing Newt Gingrich's views on Judge Sotomayor): I didn‘t know why he retracted it and I still don't. I'm not retracting it. Nobody's refuted it. She would bring a form of racism and bigotry to the court.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: When you get called racist by the guy who says the assassin of Martin Luther King, Jr. should get the Medal of Honor, consider yourself honored. Also, nauseated.
Given the small amount of attention yesterday's revelation that Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor made extremely similar derogatory comments about men back in 1994 as she did in 2001, the answer appears to be "No."
As most readers are aware, Sotomayor uttered the following roughly eight years ago during a lecture at Boalt Hall, the University of California, Berkeley's, law school:
Politico chief political columnist Roger Simon, a longtime correspondent for the Baltimore Sun and U.S. News & World Report, simply cannot believe it’s controversial for Sonia Sotomayor to claim a "wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences" makes a wiser judical decision than a presumably privileged white male. "I have read those words over and over, and I still fail to see what is wrong with them."
To Simon, that’s apparently as true as two and two make four. He complained that the White House tried to apologize for it as a poor choice of words:
Why? I don’t get it. Why was her word choice poor if "she was simply saying that her life experiences" gave her "information about the struggles and hardships" of people?
We all know why. If you are not white, you have to be careful what you say. You cannot hint that you may actually know more than white people.
It was a liberal-fest on MSNBC's weekly "New York Times Special Edition on MSNBC" show, hosted last Friday by John Harwood and Norah O'Donnell and featuring a rotating gaggle of Times reporters, both in studio and on location.
To preface a discussion about Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor about 20 minutes into the show, host Harwood (who also writes for the Times) broadcast a clip of former Republican presidential candidate Tom Tancredo describing the liberal Hispanic activist group La Raza, which Sotomayor once belonged to, as the "Latino KKK without the hoods and-or the nooses."
For that bit of commentary, Harwood called Tancredo "a little kooky." Next, reporter Adam Nagourney accused Rush Limbaugh of "incendiary" comments on Sotomayor, while Sheryl Gay Stolberg lamented that "with an African-American president trying to bring people together, now we're seeing those old ugly culture and race wars bubble up, and it'll be interesting to see if President Obama himself can kind of tamp that down."
In the run-up to Obama’s election, journalists were promoting him as a “post-racial” candidate. Now with the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor for Supreme Court we know that both the media and the candidate were lying to us.
As USA Today columnist DeWayne Wickham wrote on May 5, 2009, “For many people in the USA, Obama's election ushered in a post-racial era that was expected to push race to the back burner of our national consciousness.” But his presidency isn’t “post-racial.” It’s not just the obvious identity politics where craven political calculations are used to pick candidates of appropriate age/race/gender/class/shoe size. It has to do with Obama’s stance on using racism to correct racism.
That position was evident in Obama’s deliberate choice of Sotomayor who figured prominently in a major case of racial injustice. The case in question – Ricci v. DeStefano – involves 18 New Haven, Connecticut, firefighters who sued because they were blatantly discriminated against because of their race. The 17 white and one Hispanic firefighters took the lieutenant’s and captain’s exams and, when they did well and black firefighters did not, the city canceled the results. On appeal, our likely next Supreme Court “justice” ruled against the men even though the evidence was stacked on their side.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) admitted Tuesday that he "[hasn't] read a single one" of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor's opinions despite praising her as "the whole package."
Not surprisingly, the Obama loving media gleefully reported the latter while almost completely ignoring the former.
What a shock, huh?
Here's how Reid on Tuesday responded to the questions: "Is there anything in Judge Sotomayor's record that you think gives you trouble or that could make -- could cause her trouble? For instance, she, in January, ruled that the Second Amendment doesn't apply to the states. Is that something that you agree with, that you could see that -- or that you don't agree with and may be able to give her trouble?" (video and partial transcript embedded below the fold):
Thursday night, as my colleague Brent Baker noted, ABC and NBC fretted that Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor might not adhere to a strict liberal orthodoxy on abortion. NBC reporter Pete Williams said Sotomayor’s views on abortion were a “mystery,” while ABC’s Jan Crawford Greenburg declared “both sides in the contentious debate want to know more.”
On Wednesday’s CBS Evening News, correspondent Wyatt Andrews sounded the same alarm: “Pro-abortion rights groups worried aloud today that the President — who promised an abortion rights nominee — never asked Sotomayor, who is Catholic, where she stands.”
On Thursday’s Today, co-host Matt Lauer opened the show by demanding to know “Where does she stand? Liberal activists voicing concerns over Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor and her stance on abortion. This morning, they’re demanding to know if she’s pro-choice or pro-life — and why President Obama never asked.”
But this isn’t the first time the networks have channeled the worries of liberal pro-abortion groups about a Democratic President’s Supreme Court nominee.
Displaying a caricature of a celebrity enraptured by President Barack Obama, although apparently quite serious in the underlining attitude he conveyed in an over the top manner, on Friday's Larry King Live actor Denis Leary (IMDb page) proclaimed: “I think that President Obama is the greatest President in the history of all of our Presidents and that he can do no wrong in my book.”
Asked about Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, Leary, co-producer and star of FX's Rescue Me, exclaimed: “Fantastic!” Guest host Joy Behar prompted him to affirm: “You love her?” He repeated his earlier mantra: “Everything you ask me about President Obama I'm just going to say it's the greatest thing ever. I love the guy!”
Leary, who made the appearance ostensibly to plug his book, 'Why We Suck: A Feel Good Guide to Staying Fat, Loud, Lazy and Stupid', as a Father's Day gift, also related how he likes to “torture” pro-Bush friends and colleagues by gloating over Obama. “I do have to say that I enjoy upsetting people -- friends of mine who might be in the Republican world” by telling them: “President Obama is the greatest thing that ever happened.”
NBC provided a platform Friday for President Obama to fire back at conservative critics of his Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor, as Brian Williams cued him up to agree her comment that a Latina judge would make better decisions than a white male one, is “one of those she'd rather have back.” Obama naturally agreed as NBC Nightly News aired his response for an uninterrupted two-plus minutes -- an eternity on TV news.
Fill-in anchor Lester Holt led with how “critics on the right tonight are finding some traction in comments she made back in 2001 suggesting a female Hispanic judge would often reach a better conclusion than a white male judge. And late today the President addressed it head on.” Viewers soon saw a clip of Williams at the White House with Obama, for a two-part prime time special next week:
This is the quote: “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life.” It's your judgment -- perhaps having talked to the judge -- that, as we say, that's one of those she'd rather have back if she had it to re-do?
Obama began by agreeing “I'm sure she would have re-stated it” -- and he wrapped up his retort two minutes and ten seconds later by predicting “all of this nonsense that is being spewed out will be revealed for what it is.”
Back in the 2006 nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court , Barack Obama criticized the philosphy on confirming Supreme Court Justices stating the Senate should "only examine whether or not the Justice is intellectually capable and is nice to his wife." He further objected that, "once you get beyond intellect and personal character there shouldn't be further question to whether the justice should be confirmed. Meaningful advice and consent includes an examination of a judge's philosophy, ideology, and record."
Today’s (Friday’s) Washington Times picks up on a recent report from the Media Research Center (you can read it here) documenting the outpouring of positive coverage for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. The piece, by reporter Jennifer Harper, quotes NewsBusters senior editor Rich Noyes, but also included a quote from Democratic operative Dan Gerstein claiming, “If President Bush had appointed someone with the same background — working class, an up-by-the-bootstraps story — the coverage would have been exactly the same.”
As TimesWatch editor Clay Waters pointed out yesterday, the press had a far more cynical reaction to the “up-by-the-bootstraps” story of Clarence Thomas, elevated to the Supreme Court by the first President Bush back in 1991.
During a segment on Friday’s “American Morning,” CNN correspondent Carol Costello used two liberal talking heads to cast doubt on the “judicial activist” label used by conservatives. Costello used three sound bites from Jonathan Turley of George Washington University Law School, who branded the use of the term as “perfectly juvenile,” and one from NPR’s Nina Totenberg to cast aspersions on conservatives who are concerned about judges legislating from the bench.
Costello’s report, which began 20 minutes into the 6 am Eastern hour of the CNN program, began by labeling the “judicial activist” term itself an “act” by politicians: “We hear politicians say it all the time, ‘we don't need an activist judge legislating from the bench.’ But what exactly does that mean? Critics roll their eyes when they hear, ‘we don't want an activist judge on the bench,’ when, in reality, that’s exactly what they want. I’m just saying, if that’s true, why not drop the act and tell voters what you really mean?” She further explained that it was a “buzzword that’s got staying power.”
Thursday's "Political Points" podcast at nytimes.com featured New York Times reporters David Kirkpatrick, Adam Liptak, and Jodi Kantor talking about the Sonia Sotomayor nomination and displaying various liberal tics.
Kirkpatrick accused Newt Gingrich of "ad hominem attacks" against Sotomayor, while Kantor pondered the Republican dilemma: of possibly seeing "this bank of white male senators grill in a possibly antagonistic way the first Latina woman nominated to serve on this bench." Plus: Sotomayor will "not only speak to the cafeteria workers but she'll speak to them in Spanish."
An excerpt from about seven minutes into the podcast:
David Kirkpatrick: "There's a debate going on within the Republican Party right now over how to play this. There are some, including I think former speaker Newt Gingrich, who think it's appropriate at this time to begin ad hominem attacks, calling her a racist, attacking her sensibility, calling her manifestly unqualified. And there's another school of thought that says, We're gonna lose. They've got the numbers. We might as well have a high-minded debate about how we would approach the law versus how they would approach the law, rather than get dragged down into the mud.'"
Host Sam Roberts: "And also doesn't the Republican Party risk, among other things, alienating Hispanic voters whom they've been trying to hard to woo?"
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.”
You'd expect to see this in the liberal blogosphere or possibly some of the national mainstream media outlets with an obvious agenda. But now some of the preemptive strikes against Republican senators leading up to the Senate confirmation hearings and eventual vote to confirm President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor, are finding their way into local newspapers.
An op-ed published in The Anniston (Ala.) Star on May 28 by Ari Rabin-Havt, the managing director of the left-wing Media Matters Action Network, attacked the new ranking Republican of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. He alleged that if Sessions and other Senate Republicans didn't commit to taking a filibuster off the table for Sotomayor's confirmation, they would be guilty of hypocrisy.
Judge Sonia Sotomayor and Judge Clarence Thomas both had compelling life stories when they were nominated for the Supreme Court. But only Sotomayor's story has been celebrated that way by the New York Times.
Sotomayor's rise from a housing project in the East Bronx to Supreme Court nominee was "a compelling life story" in Thursday's lead article by Peter Baker and Adam Nagourney.
By contrast, the lead July 2, 1991 story by Maureen Dowd, then a White House reporter, was rather curt when it came to extolling the conservative Thomas's riveting life history. Dowd dispensed with Thomas's inspiring rise from poverty in Pin Point, Ga., where he was raised by his grandparents, in two and a half paragraphs, and suggested a cynical political motivation on the part of President George H.W. Bush. Thomas's life wasn't necessarily inspiring but was merely "offered as inspiring" by the president:
ABC senior legal correspondent Jan Crawford Greenburg on Thursday examined a controversial decision judge and Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor made on racial discrimination, while, at the same time, repeatedly declaring that it would be "almost impossible" for Senate Republicans to derail her promotion to the high court. Talking with "Good Morning America" host Robin Roberts, Greenburg asserted, "She's qualified. She's experienced. It's going to be almost impossible for Republicans to do anything to stop her."
Later, after recounting the large Democratic majority, she again proclaimed, "And it's going to be almost impossible, like I said." Now, considering the unfolding revelations about Sotomayor's comments on legislating from the bench, her assertion that a "wise Latina woman" would often reach a better conclusion than a white male, wouldn't it make more sense to not portray the federal judge's nomination as inevitable and as a self fulfilling prophecy?
On balance, however, Greenburg should be commended for filing a report that actually examined the 2003 case of a white, New Haven, Connecticut firefighter who filed a discrimination lawsuit after being denied a promotion, despite obtaining the highest score in a exam. Greenburg pointedly explained the involvement of the nominee: "Sotomayor and two fellow judges dismissed the white firefighters claims and 2000 pages of court papers and filings in one paragraph."
A baffled CBS. The CBS Evening News, which in 2005 had no doubt about how John Roberts and Samuel Alito were dangerous conservatives, expressed bewilderment Wednesday evening over where Obama's Supreme Court nominee stands. “Pundits usually label judges as either liberal or conservative, but that won't be easy with Judge Sotomayor,” Katie Couric propounded in setting up a piece from Wyatt Andrews, who concluded:
President Obama, then, has found a judge with 17 years experience but no clear ideology on discrimination, gay rights, or abortion and who can't be easily defined by political labels.
At least not by the CBS newscast, which back in 2005 asserted Roberts would move “the court further to the right” and fretted over the Alito pick “tilting the Supreme Court in a solidly conservative direction for years to come.”
Ann Coulter and James Carville went head-to-head on Good Morning America this morning. Incredibly, James Carville survived.
At least, it sounds incredible until you read the transcript. A total of nine questions were asked of the two pundits, seven of which went to Coulter. Carville, on the other hand, was simply allowed to respond to Coulter without questioning - an unfiltered rebuttal, with free airtime provided by ABC.
This, however, was not the most egregious point of controversy. Carville was allowed, with no challenge from the host, to provide ad-hominem attacks against conservatives – as well as irrelevant, non-sequitur praise for Judge Sonia Sotomayor. The transcript speaks for itself:
After playing a clip of Rush Limbaugh charging Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor with bigotry and racism, Chris Matthews, on Wednesday's "Hardball," implied Limbaugh was the racist as he asked a guest panelist Jeanne Cummings of the Politico, "Is this the pot calling the kettle black?" To which Cummings responded that the radio talk show host was going to "chase," all the Hispanics away from the GOP:
Well all I know is it's the worst nightmare for the Republicans, I mean they're trying to calculate whether they should vote against her, how aggressively they should try to sort through her record and challenge her during hearings. And with things like that, and all that calculation to try to keep Hispanic support, even as small as it's gotten for Republicans. Rush Limbaugh can chase ‘em all away in an afternoon with that kind of talk." [audio available here]
The following is the full segment as it was aired on the May 27 edition of "Hardball":
The Washington Post front page for May 27, 2009 announces the Sonia Sotomayor nomination to the Supreme Court with this large headline: "First Latina Picked for Supreme Court; GOP Faces Delicate Task in Opposition." There’s no reference to Sotomayor being a liberal.
Below that is a story on her ethnic identity headlined "Heritage Shapes Judge’s Perspective." Reporters Amy Goldstein and Jerry Markon notice three paragraphs in that she spoke at a conference "bluntly rejecting the argument of conservative legal thinkers that judges should decide cases purely on close readings of facts and law, excluding their own frames of reference." How did previous Supreme Court nominations do in labeling the ideology of nominees? Unsurprisingly the Post highlighted the conservatism of recent Republican nominees, but placed Democratic nominees in the middle.
Here’s a list of Washington Post front-page headlines on the first day after the official nomination that hinted at an ideology:
Samuel Alito (November 1, 2005)
"Alito Nomination Sets Stage for Ideological Battle; Bush's Court Pick Is Appeals Judge With Record of Conservative Rulings"
During the 3:00PM EST hour on MSNBC on Wednesday, political analyst Pat Buchanan wondered why President Obama’s short list for the Supreme Court only included women, in response, anchor Norah O’Donnell declared: "Did it ever occur to you, Pat, that maybe there weren’t any white men who were qualified?" (video here)
Buchanan replied: "No, it did not occur to me...You mean there are no white males qualified? That is – that would be an act of bigotry to make a statement like that." O’Donnell defended her remark by claiming past discrimination against women in the nominating process: "In the past there have been no women that have been qualified." Buchanan argued: "They certainly have been qualified in the past. I don’t doubt there are. But probably half of the great lawyers and judges are white males in this country. And to rule them out, why? Because of their sex and because of their race is wrong, I think. At least it’s affirmative action."
O’Donnell rejected Buchanan’s claim: "I don’t think you have proof that they did that." Buchanan asked: "How did he come down to four women?" O’Donnell simply repeated White House talking points: "He said that they were the best and that met the views that he had, the particular criteria." Buchanan summed up that "criteria": "One of them, it’s got to be a woman, and the other it got down to be, ‘hey, it’s an Hispanic,’ that’s affirmative action."
According to a posting at MediaBistro's TVNewser, FNC's Geraldo Rivera admitted to being so excited about Judge Sonia Sotomayor's selection for the Supreme Court that he got "goosebumps" when he heard the news and bumped his head on a light fixture when he sprang from his chair in excitement. TVNewser's Gail Shister writes: "The Fox News host was so excited about the high court's first Hispanic nominee that he leapt from his chair in his home office and bopped his head on a low-hanging light fixture."
She went on to quote Rivera: "This is as important to us as Obama was to the African-American community. I have goosebumps."