Last August, a federal judge ruled that it was unconstitutional to monitor overseas conversations with suspected terrorists. On August 18, 2006, ABC’s "Good Morning America" treated the decision as a monumental event. However, Saturday’s GMA greeted the overturning of that decision by a federal appeals judge with a solitary 13 second news brief.
In contrast, reporter Jessica Yellin described the original ruling last August as a "stinging setback" and the program highlighted a professor who said it could ultimately lead to President Bush’s impeachment. Yellin, who colorfully described the decision as "essentially accus[ing] the President of acting like a king,"also highlighted this comment about Bush from George Washington University professor Jonathan Turley:
Jonathan Turley: "He could be impeached. And people should not be underestimating that."
The following was submitted by Jason Aslinger, a private practice attorney in Greenville, Ohio. Portions in bold below are the added emphasized of NB managing editor Ken Shepherd. It's a long post but it's worth the read:
In the wake of last week’s Supreme Court decision regarding racial
integration in public schools, the media have gone out of their way to
obscure the facts for the purpose of advancing its familiar political
agenda, not to mention skipped over giving readers a glimpse of the concurring opinions of Justices Thomas and Kennedy, both of which shed light on the case's significance to the average American.
In a prior NewsBusters post, I called out MSNBC's Keith
Olbermann for his false and race-baiting claim that the Supreme Court
had “overturned” the landmark decision of Brown v. Board of Education.
The subsequent commentary by the media has at least been more clever,
but no less false. Undoubtedly, the press and “expert commentators”
have calculated that the general public would not check their factual
(and political) conclusions by reading the Court’s 185-page opinion.
Without knowing the specific facts, the media distortions can not be
fully appreciated. Below we'll take a look at the facts of the case as well as the reasoning from the justices, reasoning that all too often is glossed over if not outright ignored in the media.
The storyline. That's the thing. Feed the storyline.
The media has been just enthralled with the idea that the removal of political appointees, and their replacement with other political appointees, somehow constitutes a grand scandal, since it's a Republican adminstration that did it. The storyline was promoted again in a Reuters piece on Friday.
An assistant attorney general at the Justice Department announced her resignation on Friday, becoming the seventh official to quit the department since the Democratic-led Congress launched an investigation in March into the firing of nine federal prosecutors. Rachel Brand, assistant attorney general for legal policy, said she would step down on July 9. No reason was given.
Sounds pretty suspicious, doesn't it? Pretty sinister? Just more fuel on the fire that is the scandal of the President exercising his power to appoint and remove federal prosecutors.
When it comes to the First Amendment, too many people in this country have a distorted sense of what that document actually means.
This is especially true of the liberal elite media which construe the First Amendment in the following manner: 1) Congress shall not make any attempt to censor or diminish the rights of any media outlet--except those dominated by the right. 2) Congress shall not restrict flag burning or any form of pornography. 3) Religious people do not have the right to express their religion in public. 4) Political speech is equal to money and therefore can be censored at whim.
To those who doubt that, take a gander at this recent Kansas City Star editorial, denouncing the new John Roberts court:
result, made clear in rulings handed down this week and earlier, is
empowerment for the powerful and callousness toward individuals.
On Saturday's NBC Nightly News, correspondent Pete Williams presented a one-sided look at the Supreme Court's "shift to the right," conveying complaints by liberals over recent court rulings, but without showing any conservatives who supported some of the court's recent right-leaning decisions. Williams began his piece by quoting liberal Justice Stephen Breyer's complaint that "It's not often in the law that so few have so quickly changed so much," before playing a soundbite of the ACLU's Steven Shapiro: "Civil liberties and civil rights took a beating virtually across the board from race to religion to abortion to speech to the basic right to come into court and sue when you've been a victim of discrimination." Williams also found that Chief Justice John Roberts "has turned out to be more conservative than even some of the court's liberals thought he would be." (Transcript follows)
The following was written for NewsBusters by Jason Aslinger, a private practice attorney from Greenville, Ohio. Portions in bold below reflect the editor's emphasis.
The media’s contempt for the conservative U.S. Supreme Court reached new lows this week when it used a dishonest play on words to imply that the Court was against racial diversity in public schools.
That distortion, however, paled in comparison to MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, who announced on his blog (appropriately named “The News Hole”) that the landmark case of Brown v. Board of Education had been overturned!
Olbermann would have you believe that the U.S. Supreme Court had returned us to the days of segregated public schools.
Under the intentionally inflammatory heading “TURNING BACK HISTORY,” Olbermann's "Countdown" staff wrote:
The landmark Supreme Court ruling which found that schools cannot diversify their student bodies based on race alone gave NBC the launch pad they needed to talk about the conservative nature of the Supreme Court.
NBC’s coverage on Nightly News was remarkably stacked to the left. Reporter Pete Williams led his package with this sentence: “This decision vividly reveals how divided this current supreme court is on social issues.” In reporting the ruling Williams described the majority ruling as coming from “the five most conservative justices.” But he never quoted Chief Justice John Roberts’ opinion which included the statement, “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race, is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.” He did, however, quote this statement from the minority opinion of Justice Stephen Breyer, “It's not often that so few have so quickly undone so -- changed so much.”
CNSNews.com staff writer Monisha Bansal has done something I've seen very little, if any of, in mainstream media coverage. Reporting on yesterday's Supreme Court ruling striking down two race-based preference structures that governed public school districts in Louisville, Ky. and Seattle, Ms. Bansal documented the reaction of the lawyers who won the lawsuits in question.
As NewsBusters has repeatedly noted, most of the media focus has been on the political dimensions of a "rightward" shift in the Court, in Kennedy as the new swing justice, etc.
Below is an excerpt of Bansal's June 29 article, portions in bold are my emphasis:
The following is submitted by Jason Aslinger, a NewsBusters reader and a private practice attorney from Greenville, Ohio. Cohen pictured at right (file photo).
In his June 28 "Court Watch" article, CBS News legal analyst Andrew Cohen laments the
conservative bent of the U.S. Supreme Court under Chief Justice John
Roberts. But rather than give readers sound legal critiques, Cohen sounds out a decidely political lament.
With a title like “Rightward Ho!” you might think that
Cohen would attack the Court’s conservative justices, and he
does, dismissing Justice Samuel Alito as a "rigid starboard-facing
ideologue" while he derides Chief Justice John Roberts as "silly and
Cohen lists several cases from the 2007 term in which, in Cohen’s
view, Justice Alito delivered the deciding vote. Cohen writes:
I could not leave this untouched. Joan Biskupic, the same Supreme Court reporter I accused of sounding like a John McCain press flack, has given us a gem of a skewed report on a 5-4 decision today about the use of race as a factor in managing public school registration.
Let's walk through it shall we?
When reporting on a key Supreme Court ruling, it's kind of nice to give readers a glance of the reasoning of the majority first. Makes sense, right. After all, the focus is supposed to be the party at suit that, well, WINS. But Chief Justice Roberts, who wrote for the majority, isn't quoted until the 9th paragraph. Justice Kennedy's more restrained concurring opinion is referenced in the fourth, but it's dissenting liberal Justice Stephen Breyer who draws first ink in the third paragraph.
Below are the first four paragraphs (my emphasis in bold), punctuated by my commentary:
As a follow-up to my previous post, I thought I'd take a look at the inane headlines for coverage of the 5-4 ruling today that restricts school districts from using race to manage school populations. Time and the Los Angeles Times are real howlers:
In a landmark 5-4 case today, the U.S. Supreme Court found that two school systems had improperly used race as a consideration in managing the public school districts. Web sites for many newspapers have carried Associated Press coverage of the ruling, and the later the revision of the AP report, the more information tends to be packed in them.
As of 1:15 a.m. Eastern when I started this post*, the Los Angeles Times front page linked to an AP story published just before 11 a.m. Eastern. But in that version of the AP story, Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote the majority opinion, is not quoted at all. Yet a similar AP story (perhaps the same story but with fewer paragraphs edited out) was published just minutes later in the Washington Examiner.
Myra Langerhas of "Snarking Dawg" had this pointed take on those vaunted "campaign finance reform" champions at the liberal New York Times that I thought I'd share with you:
Typical editorial from every litterbox's paper of record. Boil it down
to bones - 'Bong hits 4 Jesus' banner by a high school student during
class hours demands 1st Amendment protection, but an ad from a private
group that asks Senators to vote on judicial nominees needs to be
censored by the Federal Gubmint.
Wow, and the 'smart guys' read this fodder.
Our very own Clay Waters scoops out that litterbox regularly. You can track his record of the Times' droppings at TimesWatch.org.
In its rush to paint yesterday's Supreme Court ruling that struck down an issue ad ban contained in the so-called McCain-Feingold Law, the Chicago Tribune described the case as a win for President Bush and the GOP, even though the Bush administration's lawyers lost the case in question and even though the case benefits liberal activist groups as much as it does conservatives. What's more, Bush's appointees to the court actually restrained the conservative majority from taking a bigger swipe at the campaign finance law.
Here's the lede from the Tribune staffer David Savage:
WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court gave President Bush and Republican
leaders two important 5-4 victories Monday by clearing the way for
corporate-funded broadcast ads before next year's election and by
shielding the White House's "faith-based initiative" from challenge in
Oh really? President Bush signed the campaign finance bill into law, it was his Federal Election Commission that pleaded and lost the case, and he's not able to run again for reelection, yet somehow he won yesterday by virtue of his Federal Election Commission losing?
What's more, Republicans, conservatives, and business interests can certainly benefit from the change in the law, but so can Democrats, liberals, and labor unions, a point that the Washington Post's Robert Barnes picked up on in his reporting, which tracked favorable reaction from labor and business leaders:
As the media and their alarmists like soon-to-be-Dr. Al Gore have shamefully convinced enough of the population that man can actually impact the climate, law firms around the nation are gearing up to sue possible offenders.
I kid you not.
As reported in Monday’s Dallas Morning News (h/t NBer alamojb, emphasis added throughout):
CBS legal analyst Andrew Cohen found the rulings from the Supreme Court today to be a boon for conservatives, but he couldn't resist hinting about his personal opinions about those cases. He didn't seem to agree with any of them. (emphasis mine):
Conservatives go 4-4 today at the Supreme Court
Let's stay with our baseball theme today.
and political conservatives hit for the cycle Monday morning when they
"won" four long-awaited rulings from the United States Supreme Court.
The Justices further chipped away at the wall that separates church and
state, took some of the steam out of the McCain-Feingold campaign
finance law, neutered federal regulators in environmental cases to the
benefit of developers and slammed a high school kid who had the
temerity to put up a silly sign near his high school.
Today the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to ban interest groups from running issue ads close to an election. The McCain-Feingold Act bans any issue ads by interest groups that mention a candidate running for reelection from airing within 60 days of a general election (and 30 days before a primary), even if the ad does not expressly advocate voting for or against the named candidate.
The way Ariane de Vogue of ABCNews.com reports it, the ruling is not a victory for free speech and political participation, but a blow to "reform." (emphasis mine):
Reigniting the debate over campaign finance regulation, the Supreme
Court struck down a part of the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act on
That legislation, also known as the McCain-Feingold law,
restricts corporations and labor unions from broadcasting ads at
election time using general funds. Proponents of campaign finance
reform fear Monday's ruling will create a major loophole in the
legislation and cause an influx of so-called "sham issue" ads that
McCain-Feingold was created in part to combat.
Most notoriously, the Court, for the first time in its history, upheld a categorical ban on an abortion procedure. The case dealt with so-called partial-birth abortion—a procedure performed rarely, often when there are extraordinary risks to the mother, the fetus, or both.
Writes Brian, as he nominates this for stupidest quote of the year: "Oh, sure. As if an abortionist takes risks to the fetus into account!" What genius from the Harvard man (B.A. 1982, J.D., 1986)!
In the MSM world of NBC, the only "rights" groups are liberal ones. And Supreme Court justices, at least women ones, are there to serve as advocates for their sex.
That was evident from the segment "Today" ran this morning, focusing on Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The gist was that with Sandra Day O'Connor gone, it's a lonely struggle for Ginsburg as the high court's sole woman. "Today" portrayed that struggle not between liberals and conservatives, but between conservatives and various "rights" groups.
Campbell Brown introduced the segment.
'TODAY' WEEKEND TODAY CO-HOST CAMPELL BROWN: One thing as clear as the Court moves into its final weeks of the current session, it is much different place with just one female place among nine high court justices."
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the liberal Supreme Court justice, took the unusual step of reading from the bench her dissent against the Court's recent 5-4 ruling in a case against pay disparity in the workplace. The New York Times' Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse celebrated Ginsburg's activism in her Thursday "Supreme Court Memo," "Oral Dissents Give Ginsburg a New Voice on Court."
"Whatever else may be said about the Supreme Court's current term, which ends in about a month, it will be remembered as the time when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg found her voice, and used it.
"Both in the abortion case the court decided last month and the discrimination ruling it issued on Tuesday, Justice Ginsburg read forceful dissents from the bench. In each case, she spoke not only for herself but also for three other dissenting colleagues, Justices John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter and Stephen G. Breyer.
"Over Ginsburg's Dissent, Court Limits Bias Suits," blared the May 30 front page headline by the Washington Post Supreme Court reporter Robert Barnes. While the 5-4 ruling in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co.
hinged on a plain and simple application of a 1964 federal law, Barnes
front-loaded his article with the dissent of liberal Associate Justice
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, buried the majority's rationale deep in the
article after pro-Ginsburg feminist talking points, failed to include
comment from Goodyear Tire, and gave readers an unbalanced portrait of
the ruling focused on feminist reaction.
Let's take a look at how Barnes's bias unfolded, starting with the lede and second paragraph:
USA Today's "On Deadline" blog this morning picked up on a 5-day old McClatchy Newspapers item that showed Justice Clarence Thomas spoke exactly zero words during Supreme Court oral arguments since February. The original article it referred to seemed to take subtle swipes at the 58-year old George H.W. Bush-appointed jurist.
Mum's the word for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Very, very mum.
reticence to new heights, Thomas zips his lip during the robust
intellectual combat known as the oral argument. While his eight
colleagues joke, thrust, parry and probe, Thomas leans back in silence.
And that's how he stays.
Yet rather than leaving Thomas's silence to his quiet demeanor or personality, Doyle went on to suggest to readers that the taciturn Thomas was not intellectually engaged in his work (emphasis mine):
In today's Washington Post, staff writer Carol Leonnig heavily
skewed in favor of the District of Columbia gun ban. The stringent 1976
gun law was overturned earlier this year by a three-judge panel of the
D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals but may be appealed to the Supreme Court. Notice the skew of the article in favor of the D.C. government's position in the first two paragraphs of "Gun Ban Ruling Puts Fenty on the Spot.":
D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty
must make a risky choice about the District's gun ban: defend it before
the Supreme Court or write new, looser laws governing how city
residents can keep guns in their homes.
As he wades into a
high-stakes debate over the Second Amendment, the new mayor of the
nation's capital faces the possibility that the city could lose the
case and undercut decades of hard-fought gun-control legislation across
Yeah, because it's a darn shame when laws that undercut a
constitutional right might, you know, be repealed by the highest Court
in the land.
On his must-read "Best of the Web Today" column for Opinion Journal, the online home of the excellent Wall Street Journal editorial page, James Taranto did a nice analysis on Associated Press reporter Mark Sherman:
On his blog at National Review, talk-show host and longtime conservative legal eagle Mark Levin reports that New York Times reporter William Glaberson called him for comment, but couldn't seem to abide putting conservative counterpoints in his story on attempts to limit the attorney-client communications surrounding terrorist suspects at Guantanamo: "Apparently my comments didn't fit his scenario." Levin described his conversation with the Times reporter:
I told him that prior to 2004, unlawful enemy combatants held outside the United States had no access to federal courts; that if these lawyers had access to classified information they would be ethically compelled to discuss it with their clients in order to properly and zealously represent them; that they were constantly trying to move the bar by expanding the supposed due process rights of the detainees; and many other things. Of course, none of this made it into his story. I could tell when he interviewed me that he was basically carrying water for the terrorists' lawyers when he took exception to my calling them "defense counsel." I said, "If they're not defense counsel, then what are they?" He had to concede the point, which seemed rather obvious to me.
On April 19, the ladies of "The View" offered their analysis of the Gonzales v. Carhart decision upholding a federal partial birth abortion ban. Most of the segment was a back and forth between Rosie O’Donnell, who clearly opposed the decision and Elisabeth Hasselbeck, who supported it. Joy Behar and Barbara Walters chimed in occasionally with Behar clearly in the abortion rights camp and Barbara Walters mildly there. Video: Real (1.4 MB) or Windows (1.6 MB); plus MP3 (256 KB)
Rosie expressed horror that there are five Catholics on the Supreme Court and Catholics on the Court apparently violate the "separation of church and state"
I noticed an excellent item by Patterico today on selective reporting from the Los Angeles Times's David Savage regarding the "safety" of partial-birth abortion as compared to other methods of abortion and thought I'd excerpt it for you below:
Savage highlights the fact that some doctors say that the ban creates “significant health risks.”
What he doesn’t mention is that many others disagree.
This disagreement is a major point of the opinion, and is stated again
and again (though not mentioned by Savage). Here are some
representative quotes from the opinion:
four papers included descriptions of the gruesome abortion procedure,
although none described the suctioning of the unborn child's brain from
the skull as the manner of ending the fetus's life, and the NY Times
failed to mention the brain suction at all. While all four papers also put "partial-birth abortion" in quotes or chalked the label up to pro-life rhetoric, the NY Times's
Linda* Greenhouse piled on, calling the label "provocative" and describing the ruling as a shift from a focus on the
"rights" of women to the "fate of fetuses."
CBS "Public Eye" editor Brian Montopoli explained in an April 18 post that when covering today's Supreme Court ruling upholding an abortion ban, "CBSNews.com has decided to go with this phrasing whenever possible: 'what the law calls a partial birth abortion.'"
And the reason?
"Both 'late term abortion' and 'partial birth abortion' are now phrases
that signify a position, so we will use this phrasing though it is
cumbersome," CBS editorial director Dick Meyer noted in an e-mail to CBS staffers.
Of course, it's cumbersome and ridiculous to imagine that language being used to describe a number of other things defined under federal law, but on a more basic level, "partial-birth abortion" is not political invective, it's descriptive layman's language to describe a medical procedure.
Earlier this morning the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a federal ban on partial-birth abortion. What's more, Justice Anthony Kennedy, whom many in the media often focus on as the "moderate" and "swing" justice on the Court, penned the majority opinion. While the mass murder at Virginia Tech is still the top story in the media, Fox News found room to give this landmark ruling prime real estate on its Web site. CNN, however, relegated the story to a link nine entries deep into its "latest news" list.
The screenshots I've included in this post are taken from Fox News and CNN's Web sites from around 11:30 a.m.