Here's a particularly noteworthy "Name That Party" follow-up.
In a February post ("AP’s ‘Name That Party’ Twist: Disgraced PA Judges’ Dem Party ID Disappears After Initial Inclusion"; at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted that the Associated Press had originally identified the party of two Democratic judges involved in a shocking scheme that pushed thousands of juvenile offenders into detention centers for minor offenses in return for millions in kickbacks.
However, in longer subsequent reports, the AP dropped the party affiliation of Luzerne County Judges Mark Ciavarella (pictured at left) and Michael Conahan.
This evening, in a 5-paragraph story (as of 7:47 p.m.; story could change over time) about a federal judge's refusal to accept plea agreements from the pair, AP Writer MaryClaire Dale stayed consistent with the wire service's see-no-Democrats approach to developments in this grisly story:
Four years ago, on June 23, 2005, a 6-3 Supreme Court majority ruled in Kelo v. New London that the New London, Connecticut government could condemn houses in that city's Fort Trumbull area in the name of redevelopment. A bit over a year later, the city settled with the area's final two holdouts, the Cristofaro family and Susette Kelo.
Since then the city has without success tried to engage a developer to build a hotel on part of the now-leveled area, and to put apartments or condos on the rest. Yes, you read that right; they're building residences where residences used to be.
The idea behind the hotel was that it would serve as lodging for visitors to the anticipated U.S. Coast Guard Museum.
NBC's Matt Lauer, on Wednesday's "Today" show, invited on conservative columnist and author Michelle Malkin to discuss several topics ranging from Henry Louis Gates Jr.'s arrest to Malkin's critique of Michelle Obama, but when the subject of only one Republican voting for Sonia Sotomayor in the Senate Judiciary committee came up, Lauer wondered if that would hurt the GOP with Hispanics as he queried: "After the, the last election it was said that the Republicans need to broaden the tent, they need to reach out to minorities. Reach out to Hispanics. Is that, are those six 'no' votes gonna hurt Republicans down the road?"
Lauer also expressed incredulity that Malkin dared to "take on," the First Lady as seen in the following exchange:
MATT LAUER: Let me ask you about your book. In it -- I mean clearly we know by the co-, we know by the title where it goes – you take on Michelle Obama-
MICHELLE MALKIN: I certainly do.
LAUER: -in this book. You call her the "First Crony."
The serially dishonest Frank Rich, a New York Times columnist, wouldn't know an example of racism if it sat on his head.
In his latest column he haughtily bloviates in an attempt to turn the tables on Republican senators by accusing those who grilled Judge Sonia Sotomayor during her Supreme Court confirmation proceeding last week of being the real racists.
Yet the Sotomayor show was still rich in historical significance. Someday we may regard it as we do those final, frozen tableaus of Pompeii. It offered a vivid snapshot of what Washington looked like when clueless ancien-régime conservatives were feebly clinging to their last levers of power, blissfully oblivious to the new America that was crashing down on their heads and reducing their antics to a sideshow as ridiculous as it was obsolescent. [...]
During CNN’s coverage of the Sotomayor hearings on Wednesday, legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin implied that the Supreme Court’s 2008 decision to uphold the Second Amendment was revolutionary: “When I was in law school...the idea that you had a Second Amendment right to a gun was considered preposterous....But the Supreme Court [in Heller]...said that...individuals have a personal right to bear arms.”
Just after the bottom of the 12 noon hour of the network’s coverage, anchor Wolf Blitzer raised the Second Amendment issue with Toobin, a graduate of Harvard Law School, and the others on their panel analyzing the hearings, which included anchor/correspondent John King; senior political analyst Gloria Borger; and correspondent Candy Crowley, as well as Republican strategist Alex Castellanos and former Clinton administration official Maria Echaveste. After playing a clip of Republican Senator Tom Coburn asking Sotomayor about the right to keep and bear arms, Blitzer asked Toobin what were the nominee’s “positions, specifically on the federal obligation to support the Second Amendment, as opposed to local communities or states?”
The CNN senior legal analyst harkened back to his law school days in his answer, and possibly revealed a bit of his formation as a liberal:
Might Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) have some "'splainin' to do" about racial insensitivity? Both Associated Press editor Michael Giarrusso and Politico's Glenn Thrush raised the question in blog posts filed this morning.
Shortly before noon, Giarrusso noted that "Sen. Tom Coburn evoked a 1950s TV show in a quip responding to Sonia Sotomayor’s scenario about what he might do if she -- hypothetically, of course -- attacked him."
For online readers unaware of the half-century-old pop culture reference, Giarrusso explained:
With the start of Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s Supreme Court nomination confirmation hearings the topic of abortion naturally arises – not only because it one of our most polarizing legal and social issues, but also because Sotamayor claims to be Catholic, a religion that adamantly and explicitly teaches the evil of abortion.
And while her Catholicism scares some liberals, others are using it as a selling point, and in doing so desecrating a holy image of the Virgin Mary. Felix Sanchez, the CEO of D.C. government and public relations firm TerraCom and chairman of the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts, has updated his Twitter page with a background of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Over Our Lady’s face, the likeness of Sotomayor has been superimposed (shown at right).
The patron saint of all the Americas, Our Lady of Guadalupe has a special place in the hearts of Hispanic Catholics, especially Mexicans (which Sotomayor is not). But Sanchez seemed to use the image to appeal to all Hispanics and to promote his plea to “Confirm Sonia Maria Sotomayor,” as his Twitter page says.
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."
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."
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?"
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.”
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.
In a July 7 New York Times Magazine article ("The Place of Women on the Court"; HT to an e-mailer) apparently scheduled to appear in its July 12 print edition (based on its URL), Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg told the Times's Emily Bazelon that "at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don't want to have too many of."
Who is this "we" Ginsburg refers to?
Alleged reporter Bazelon did not follow up on this astounding admission.
Here, in full context of the Q&A discussion about women's reproductive rights, is Justice Ginsburg's statement:
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."
"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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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."