Chris Matthews, on Tuesday's "Hardball," couldn't contain his excitement over Obama's nomination of Sonia Sotomayor as he brought on David Axelrod to praise, to the White House advisor's face, the rollout of the Supreme Court nominee as he cheered, "It was a brilliant piece of work....it couldn’t have been done any better," and then later gushed that Barack Obama, "Wowed us!" with the pick. Matthews also claimed the only opposition to Sotomayor was made up of the "crazies," and "whack jobs," like Rush Limbaugh as Matthews told Axelrod "The only critics of this nomination with any kind of violence are that R.N.C crowd: Rush, Newt and...Cheney."
The following exchanges were aired on the May 26 edition of "Hardball":
CHRIS MATTHEWS TO AXELROD: You know since you fellows came to the White House I've been looking at the patterns, the, the team of rivals aspect of bringing Senator Clinton aboard as Secretary of State. The, sort of, the Reagan model of getting things done as quickly as you can because you only have so much mandate. And then I've looked at the Chicago model, which is to act as if there's only one governing party and then basically do warfare with the crazies out there,
Norah O'Donnell and Rachel Maddow can't seem to make up their minds. In the same segment, Maddow argues - and O'Donnell fails to question - that Judge Sonia Sotomayor was not picked as an affirmative-action nominee, and follows with the mystifying non-sequitur that opposing "the first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice" would be politically damaging for the Republican party.
O’Donnell was interviewing Rachel Maddow (normally exiled to the prime-time wing-nut section of MSNBC programming, Maddow instead made an appearance just after three PM on Tuesday), and immediately served up a steaming dish of Rush Limbaugh controversy. In keeping with the liberal myth of Republican racism, Maddow immediately pounced:
While NBC's Matt Lauer, Pete Williams and Chuck Todd all appropriately applied the liberal label to Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, on Tuesday's "Today" show, Lauer did try to sell the concept, advanced by the Washington Post, that Sotomayor wouldn't be "reflexively liberal."
MATT LAUER: Right, however in the Washington Post, back in May Pete, when writing about her judicial philosophy they said this, quote, "Sotomayor would probably be a reliably liberal vote on the Court, split into conservative and liberal blocks, on many issues, but her friends and colleagues and former clerks say, she would not be reflexively liberal or results oriented but would adhere to the law and the Constitution." We talking about a fine line there?
The following is a full transcript of the segment as it occurred on the May 26 edition of the "Today" show:
MATT LAUER: NBC News has learned that President Obama has tapped federal appeals court judge Sonia Sotomayor as his first nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court. We'll get more on this right now from NBC's chief justice correspondent Pete Williams. Pete, good morning, what can you tell me.
Gender and sexual orientation matter more than judicial philosophy and experience, at least according to the CBS "Early Show" on May 14.
The morning news program focused its discussion of only two of the potential Supreme Court nominees - two openly gay women.
Co-anchor Julie Chen announced the story saying, "Washington is all a buzz over the two openly gay women under consideration." Senior White House correspondent Bill Plante's story followed, which he began by asking "Is America ready for a gay Supreme Court justice?"
When the late Playboy centerfold and tabloid-media celebrity Anna Nicole Smith graced the white marble steps of the Supreme Court in 2006, the network news operations couldn’t get enough of the story. The blonde floozy had married a fabulously wealthy Texas oilman who happened to be 62 years her senior, and now she wanted to collect his estate. It was a serious legal challenge, and a salacious gossip story, and the networks covered it religiously.
But when a Supreme Court decision affects the networks directly, and adversely, there’s no coverage.
The Supreme Court ruled on the case of ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox all suing the federal government for the right to drop F-bombs and S-bombs on young children. The Second Circuit had agreed with the networks that regulation of "fleeting" expletives was "arbitrary and capricious." There was great interest then. Both ABC and CBS put on full stories to discuss the issues. But last week, the Supreme Court overturned the lower court. I bet you didn’t know that, and if you didn’t, it’s because the networks didn’t report it.
Now that Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. has been named the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, some on the far-left are gunning for Alabama's junior senator. The battle is happening as President Barack Obama is on the verge of naming an appointee to the Supreme Court to fill void of Justice David Souter.Some of the left-wing points that suggest Sessions has racist tendencies were incorporated into a May 6 Politico story by John Bresnahan and Manu Raju.
"By elevating Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions to their top spot on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Republicans have selected their chief inquisitor for President Barack Obama's first Supreme Court nominee: a Southern, white conservative man who has drawn fire for racially insensitive comments in the past," Bresnahan and Manu Raju wrote. "Democrats like how this is looking."
The story sets up Sessions to be on the defensive about race by spinning the senator's own history. According to the Politico story, Sessions had been accused of unfairly targeting black civil rights workers for election fraud charges as a federal prosecutor during a 1986 Senate hearing for a spot on the federal bench.
NBC anchor Brian Williams' Web surfing centers on liberal sites, as at least evidenced by the reading list he recommended in his Monday afternoon entry on The Daily Nightly blog consisting of four articles, all from left-leaning sites: Slate, The New Republic and The Daily Beast. “Because of my Souter departure obsession,” he explained, “today I want to share with you some interesting writing I found over the weekend.”
The suggested reading started “with a former Souter clerk (a familiar name from American history).” That would be “Justice Cincinnatus: David Souter -- a dying breed, the Yankee Republican,” by Kermit Roosevelt on Slate who maintained: “I think Souter is indeed in many ways a Republican; it's just that his sort of Republican no longer really exists.” Translation: liberal. Roosevelt hailed Souter's resistance to overturning Roe v Wade: “The charge fell short in the end, turned back by just a few people, Souter crucially among them, who found themselves in the right place at the right time.”
Second, Williams highlighted “a great essay by a journalist who covers the court.” That's “Justice Heartbreaker: David Souter leaves the court that left him behind,” also on Slate, by Dahlia Lithwick. She quoted President Obama's wish for a justice who has “that quality of empathy, of understanding and identifying with people's hopes and struggles as an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes.” Lithwick then concluded: “He could have been describing Justice Souter, a man who may have looked on the surface like he preferred books to people, but in reality, and perhaps unbeknownst even to himself, always put people first.”
New video has surfaced of possible Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor remarking that the courts are the place "where policy is made." Sotomayor, who is a federal judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, was giving a speech at Duke University in 2005 when the footage was shot. She quickly added, "And I know this is on tape and I should never say that, because we don't make law. I know." As the audience laughed, the judge, who is rumored to be a replacement for retiring justice David Souter, qualified, "I'm not promoting it and I'm not advocating it." More snickering from the crowd followed.
This is the same person that ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos touted on last Friday's "Good Morning America." The "This Week" host spun, "She would be not only a woman, but the first Hispanic on the court. She's built up a strong centrist record on the court." Noting that Sotomayor was nominated by President George H.W. Bush (who, it should be pointed out, also picked the liberal Souter), Stephanopoulos asserted, "So, she has got some bipartisan credentials."
In a brief item Monday evening about Jack Kemp's passing, the NBC Nightly News delivered an obit on Kemp's life, but while Brian Williams didn't find room in his 37-second update to mention how Kemp was behind the successful, supply-side Regan tax cuts, he decided it was newsworthy to point out how “Kemp was a conservative purist who, in a letter to his grandchildren months before his death, said the election of Barack Obama was proof that we live in a great country.”
So, was Williams just trying to make Kemp look good -- or was he trying to impugn other conservatives who weren't so excited about Obama's victory or, third option, was it a way for Williams to convey to his liberal audience and the Manhattan social circuit that Kemp really wasn't one of those awful conservatives the media so often denigrate? Or all of the above? I ask, you decide.
Souter was nominated by the first President Bush but disappointed conservatives by often voting with the court's liberal bloc, which may be why Greenhouse wished him such a fond farewell:
David H. Souter had no agenda 19 years ago when he took his seat on the Supreme Court, but he did have a goal: not to become a creature of Washington, a captive of the privileges and power that came with a job he was entitled to hold for the rest of his life. In this, no matter what else can be said about his tenure on the court, he succeeded brilliantly.
Just a few decades ago, this would hardly have been a singular accomplishment. Even the most distinguished Supreme Court justices often disappeared from public view, speaking only through their opinions -- the full texts of which were all but inaccessible to ordinary citizens without access to a law library. But in this media-saturated age, the justices are everywhere. If they are not on book tours, they are opining on the authorship of Shakespeare's plays, or mingling with their peers in Europe, or on C-Span addressing high school students, or at least delivering named lectures at law schools.
None of this held any appeal for David Souter, who after returning home from his Rhodes scholarship at Magdalen College, Oxford, crossed the Atlantic only once again, for a reunion there. Who needed Paris if you had Boston, he would remark to friends. When the court is in recess, he gets in his Volkswagen and heads to Weare, N.H., to the small farmhouse that was home to his parents and grandparents.
Greenhouse took sides on a recent Supreme Court decision:
Friday afternoon, CNN anchor Rick Sanchez observed that since “Obama is essentially replacing...a more liberal judge with what will eventually probably be a liberal judge doesn't really change things a lot,” but, he contended, a President McCain would have caused an “extreme” shift, as if one more non-liberal on the court would cause an “extreme” change: “If John McCain were the President of the United States today, this court would be changing in extreme ways, wouldn't it?” Of course, if McCain were President there wouldn't now be an opening on the court and it presumes McCain would nominate a conservative.
Sanchez's formulation, in which had cited RNC Chairman Michael Steele's point that Supreme Court openings are why conservatives should have supported McCain, came just after CNN's legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, described the court's current make up as consisting of “four very conservative justices” and four just plain “liberal justices” -- apparently not “very” liberal.
During the 3PM EST hour of live coverage on MSNBC, anchor Norah O’Donnell turned to White House correspondent Savannah Guthrie for reaction to President Obama’s surprise appearance at the daily press briefing to discuss the retirement of Supreme Court Justice David Souter: "Savannah, let me just start with you, the shock factor. I mean, you've got that seat right there by where the President walked out. Were you surprised?" Guthrie replied: "Shocked is more like it, Norah. I felt a little bit like I was having a dream sequence minus the pink unicorn. I have to say, we attend those briefings every day, they are rarely so exciting." [audio for download here]
Guthrie went on to explain: "I had kind of been giving Gibbs a little bit of a hard time, saying, 'look, why does everyone in Washington know this and you're telling us there's been no communication between Justice Souter, the Supreme Court, and the White House?' And sure enough, the President walks in and said ‘I just got off the phone with Justice Souter.’" O’Donnell asked: "Are you suggesting, Savannah, it was your questions that were the reason the President walked out? Because that sounds like where you're going with this." Guthrie humbly replied: "Well, I'm not quite that self-centered. But all I'm saying is I'm very happy to have my question answered, and certainly, personally by the President."
What should President Obama’s impending Supreme Court Justice be? A thoughtful jurist? A legal scholar with impeccable credentials? An experienced, accomplished, wise legal expert to judge whether laws are Constitutional?
Apparently, the most important thing to remember is that this justice should be a Hispanic woman.
Joe Scarborough of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” was conducting pundit interviews this morning for analysis on Justice Souter’s newly announced retirement. One such pundit was Tavis Smiley, and as a gentle segue into the subject of identity politics, Scarborough brought up Justice Clarence Thomas [emphasis mine]:
While reporting on the announced retirement of Supreme Court Justice David Souter on Friday’s CBS Early Show, correspondent Wyatt Andrews explained: "Souter quickly stunned conservatives in 1992, casting the crucial fifth vote to uphold Roe vs. Wade in the landmark abortion case Planned Parenthood vs. Casey. Souter evolved into one of the court's more liberal justices."
Andrews went on declare that: "Obama specifically promised to appoint justices who are pro-abortion rights." A clip of Obama on the campaign trail was played: "That's why I am committed to appointing judges who understand how our laws operate in our daily lives, judges who will uphold the core values of our Constitution, that's why I won't back down when it comes to defending the freedom of women." Andrews concluded: "In the search for his replacement, the President will face significant pressure, not just to name a liberal justice, but also to appoint a woman justice."
In a promo on Thursday’s Early Show, CBS asked if same-sex “marriage” is “inevitable in all 50 states,” and during their segment on the issue, seemed to answer this rhetorical question affirmatively. The network also lined up four sound bites from three individuals who supported the legalization of such unions against one from a leader of a conservative organization. Additionally, correspondent Priya David made one factual error about California’s Proposition 8 during the report.
David began the segment by outlining which states had passed same-sex civil unions, which states permit domestic partnerships, and which states “offer full marriage rights for same-sex couples.” She continued by actually using a political label for the “marriage” states: “In allowing same-sex marriage, Vermont has joined its neighbors in the north, Massachusetts and Connecticut, which are traditionally liberal states. But now there’s support in a place you might not expect.”
Liberally slanted legal reporter Neil Lewis has a scoop-let on President Obama's anticipated first court appointment, the "moderate" Judge David Hamilton, to the federal appeals court in Chicago ("Moderate Is Said to Be Pick for Court").
Lewis saw this upcoming move as a "signal" Obama's future appointees would be "moderate" as well. But how truly moderate is David Hamilton, federal trial court judge in Indiana and former board member for the Indiana ACLU?
Lewis provides no evidence, only the vague assertion that Hamilton "is said by lawyers to represent some of his state's traditionally moderate strain." But that seal of approval has a certain "strained" quality itself; if Hamilton is "said" to "represent some" of Indiana's moderation, then he's not all moderate, but something else as well. Probably something liberal. Why?
For one, the liberal Obama picked him. For another, his only memorable rulings, according to Lewis himself, were two anti-conservative ones. In one case, he sided with the ACLU on prayer, a ruling later overturned. Third, Hamilton clerked for a liberal judge. Lewis's assertion is contradicted by factual evidence from his own story.
This is not a story of bias in the media. It is a story, rather, that affects both the Old Media of newspapers, TV and radio, as well as the New Media of the Internet. Our disagreements with the Old Media aside, we both stand to see trouble if a recent court case in Massachusetts gains momentum or is applied liberally henceforth.
The Associated Press reports on a libel case in Boston that pits a fired employee of the Staples office supply chain against his former employer. Staples, as it happens, sent out an emailed newsletter informing its employees that salesman Alan Noonan was fired for padding his expense account. Noonan sued for libel. Alarmingly, even though the emailed newsletter was reporting the strict truth the court held that truth was no defense in this case.
What does this mean to us? Journalists (and that means us too, folks) have been protected for decades by the concept that "truth isn't libelous" allowing things of a nature vexing to people in the news to be published without fear of a lawsuit. Even though this court case is not about journalism per se, it could come back to bite us all if this ruling is applied broadly.
On the December 9, 2008, Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann charged that Bush administration members – whom he did not specify by name but presumably President Bush was meant to be included – deserve to be "in hell," as he cited a report that a post-war insurgency in Iraq using roadside bombs to attack U.S. troops had been predicted by the U.S. military before the invasion. During the show’s regular "Bushed!" segment, Olbermann lambasted the Bush administration:
So not only did the Bush administration and the Bush Pentagon ignore the prewar intel, that the WMD we sought to recover were not in Iraq, but the Bush administration and the Bush Pentagon ignored that if we removed Saddam Hussein an insurgency of some sort would develop in Iraq. And now we learn the Bush administration and the Bush Pentagon ignored the prewar intel that when an insurgency did develop, it would use roadside bombs to kill the troops we needlessly sent there.
I don’t know what, if any religion you belong to, but I suspect you’ll agree that people who ignored that many foretellings of preventable death should have a long time to think about it in hell!
Below is a complete transcript of the "Bushed!" segment from the December 9, 2008, Countdown show on MSNBC, with critical portions in bold:
Among the five "Scenes From an Inauguration" letters the Washington Post published from readers in its January 21 edition, one took the cake for over-the-top left-wing derangement.
The letter, by one Ed Burke of Warrenton, Virginia, launched a screed at Chief Justice John Roberts, calling his mistake reciting the presidential oath for Barack Obama "a disgrace" whether it was "through design" or "an amazing lack of preparation."
Of course, most observers -- apart from Joe Klein -- regardless of political leaning would say it was likely an innocent rookie mistake, this being the chief justice's first of hopefully many inaugurations to come. Yet the Post saw fit to publish Burke's melodramatic screed.:
A federal judge threw out a spurious lawsuit by serial atheist litigant Michael Newdow. Yet in reporting the story in its January 16 print edition, the Washington Post made it sound like a federal judge has ended the suspsense and permitted prayers to be offered at the inauguration, as though they were seriously in danger in the first place.
"Judge Clears the Way for Prayer at Swearing-In," declared the page B4 headline in the Inauguration Watch digest. Staff writer Del Quentin Wilber echoed the headline's language in his lede:
A federal judge yesterday cleared the way for government officials and ministers to pray and make references to God during the swearing-in.
Wilber explained that "U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton refused to grant an injunction in a lawsuit seeking to block such references." Nowhere in his 3-paragraph-long brief did Wilber mention Newdow by name, nor his history of frivolous litigation such as trying to remove "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance and "In God We Trust" from U.S. currency.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer are "moderate" liberals. And GOP opposition to Obama Supreme Court nominees would constitute a "fake fight" demonstrating that Republicans remain mired in the culture wars. Such was the collective wisdom of two of the roundtable members on ABC's "This Week" today.
Before moving to the substance, a word about the roundtable's lopsided composition, which resembled nothing more than Homecoming for public radio types. To "balance" David Brody of CBN, ABC chose Kurt Andersen of Public Radio International, Alison Stewart of NPR, and John Dickerson of Slate and . . . NPR. Andersen kicked off the Supreme Court segment with his "moderate" liberal comment. Dickerson followed with his pre-emptive warning about that potential Republican "fake fight."
In the interview for Wednesday’s Barbara Walters Special on ABC with Barack and Michelle Obama, excerpts of which were also shown on Wednesday’s World News with Charles Gibson, Walters asked few questions that put the Obamas on the defensive, in contrast with her January 2001 interview, aired on 20/20, with then-President-elect Bush in which she challenged him on a number of fronts. Most notably, she seemed to chide Bush for choosing John Ashcroft as Attorney General because he "openly opposes abortion," and claimed that Ashcroft was "not considered a friend to civil rights." She asked Bush about reports that, as governor of Texas, he "spent relatively little time studying specific issues," and "only does a few hours of work" a day. The ABC host also challenged Bush from the left on the trade embargo against Cuba, and even asked Laura Bush if her more "traditional" plans for her time as First Lady would be a "setback for women." It is also noteworthy that Walters asked Bush about his plans for dealing with Saddam Hussein and cited "people in the know" who contended that the Iraqi dictator was "stronger than ever."
Liberal CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin appeared on the Tavis Smiley show on PBS on Wednesday night, and Smiley focused on several "hot button" issues that were largely ignored in the general election: campaign finance reform, abortion, racial preferences, and gun control. Toobin insisted that Obama’s long list of small (and unidentified) donors suggests "there’s less risk of corruption, I think." On Supreme Court picks, he said Obama will pick someone with liberal views on abortion and racial preferences, but insisted that Obama really matches Reagan appointee Sandra Day O’Connor’s views on race. On gun control, Toobin defined the struggle strangely, like he wasn't very smart about weapons: "What's the line between a handgun in D.C. and a surface-to-air missile? I think the courts are going to have to figure that out."
First, Toobin found no need for reform of the current campaign finance system, with the favorable results and all:
SMILEY: The money in this campaign, with all due respect to Barack Obama and the three-quarters of a billion dollars he raised in this campaign, do we need to get back now to a serious conversation about campaign finance reform? Because everybody can't do what Obama did.
We've seen some major cases of left leaning bias in the media, especially during the late presidential campaign. Many of these cases have been blatant and over-the-top in style but, while covering the brazen cases of such bias, it is easy to forget that there are every day cases of the more subtle bias to the left in the media. Today, we have a perfect example of a more subtle left leaning bias in the media with a Reuters story headlined "Obama likely to push courts away from right." In it there are lies, distortions and tricky wording all used to pat Barack Obama on the back for his assumed sharp turn to the left he'll take as he appoints judges during his forthcoming presidency. The same tricks of the trade are used to attack George Bush and conservatives for their judicial turn to the right these last eight years.
The headline, of course, is a classic example of leftist bias. Just take a look at the language: "Obama likely to push courts away from right." More properly this headline should read: "Obama likely to push courts to the left." But, notice that instead of saying "push to the left," they say "push away from the right." This gives Obama cover for what he's really doing and takes the emotional impact away from the fact that Obama is, indeed, going to veer to the left by placing the negative connotation on the right. Reuters is assuring people that Obama ISN'T going left, no, no, no, he's only going "away" from the right!
Someone at The Phoenix, a small Boston weekly, is off his medication. It's hard to believe sanity is a familiar state, at least, when reviewing the silliness passed off as serious political analysis, anyway. For the lead editorial in The Phoenix this week is a fantastic display of hyperbole filled with "truther" propensities. The editorial, you see, is all worried that John McCain will make himself a "dictator" if he wins the election next month. No, they are serious, so quit laughing.
And how is it that he will become a "dictator"? Why, it's because he will be able to appoint a new Supreme Court Justice, you see. Yes, that is the only proof posited for this idiotic theory.
The "argument" this editorial pushes on an unsuspecting reader is that if McCain appoints another eeeevil conservative Justice, then the Courts will turn over all the power in the land to the president. After that, I suppose the writer of this schlock posing as analysis imagines that the rest of the government will just turn off the lights and go home, or something.
I thought Sarah Palin did more than fine on Saturday Night Live [Noel's got the video here]. In particular, during her Weekend Update appearance Palin displayed a speaking poise and polish exceeding that of the other candidates on both tickets. But Republicans who agree to appear on such shows put themselves in the lap of the liberal media gods. And those lesser deities abused their power last night, running a nasty joke at Clarence Thomas's expense during Weekend Update shortly before Palin appeared.
The set-up was the fact that, in a dissenting opinion published this past week, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts employed the style of a hard-bitten detective novel. That set up this . . .
For someone who doesn't know something as obvious as the fact that—given her upcoming book—Gwen Ifill has a financial stake in an Obama win, Maggie Rodriguez has an awfully high opinion of the knowledge level of ordinary Americans. Rodriguez interviewed a feisty Fred Thompson on today's Early Show. During the course of the contentious exchange:
Questioning Thompson on Sarah Palin's inability to name a Supreme Court decision other than Roe v. Wade with which she disagreed, Rodriguez claimed that “everybody” and “ordinary Americans” can cite Supreme Court cases.
When Thompson stated that Palin would be dealing tonight with a moderator with a financial interest in an Obama win, Rodriguez retorted “I don’t know about that.”
A Federal judge from Louisiana is under a cloud of impeachment and if he's convicted it'll be the first federal judge impeached in almost 20 years. The story was covered by the new wire service named ProPublica, a service that claims to be non-partisan. Yet in two stories on this judge there is not one mention of the fact that he was appointed to the bench by President Bill Clinton, nor that his corruption was known by the Department of Justice when Clinton made the appointment. I wonder why ProPublica didn't find that relevant, don't you?
A while back, I wrote of a new wire service that was starting up to be called ProPublica. This new service claimed that it was going to be a non-partisan service but the fact that it was being funded by left-wing billionaires made me wonder about the veracity of that claim. I have to admit that I haven't paid much attention to ProPublica since my first look into it, but this judge story piqued my interest. So, I gave ProPublica a look see.
On Sunday's The Chris Matthews Show on NBC, during a discussion of how well a President McCain might work with a Democratic Congress, host Matthews seemed to generalize about the political opinions of women as he contended that "one of the biggest fears women especially have" is that McCain would appoint pro-life Supreme Court justices, whom Matthews branded as "hawkish" on abortion: "One of the biggest fears women especially have is that we'll have a Supreme Court judge retirements or deaths or whatever, need to [be] replaced. McCain could come in there, he's a pro-lifer, pick some real hawkish people on the topic of a pro-life anti-abortion stance." He also euphemistically referred to the Democratic majority's ability to block pro-life appointments as being a "safety net." Matthews: "Would one of the safety nets be for the Democrats, they've got almost 56, almost 60 Democratic Senators that would say no way?" (Transcript follows)