On Thursday's Good Morning America, ABC journalist Sam Donaldson touted a liberal hero for the Supreme Court, one that even made George Stephanopoulos chuckle: Al Gore. After arguing that Barack Obama should choose a politician, Donaldson enthused, "Let's go further...I give you Al Gore." [Audio available here.]
The veteran reporter, who was participating in GMA's Morning Mix panel, argued his case for the former Democratic presidential nominee: "He's 62. But, he's still a few years kicking [sic]. I think he's confirmable, although there would be a fight to some extent. I think he might make a very good justice."
Stephanopoulos, a former Democratic operative, incredulously responded, "There would be a massive fight!" He then broke out laughing. Donaldson, perhaps realizing the unlikely nature of this liberal fantasy, conceded, "I said to some extent." He, too, started laughing.
Here's the thing about the vast right-wing conspiracy: it doesn't really exist. The left's latest attempt to invoke the notion has ended in rebuttals from commentators on both sides of the political spectrum.
Conservative blogger Ben Domenech noted the White House's apparent desire to appoint a homosexual to the Supreme Court. He noted in a post at the New Ledger that at least three nominees -- Pam Karlan, Kathleen Sullivan, and Elana Kagan -- are gay. The White House vehemently denied the latter. The left was not happy.
Huffington Post contributor Sam Stein quoted a spokesman for Human Rights Campaign, who alleged a "shameless … whisper campaign" started by the "far right," echoing other groups' statments to the same effect.
But there is no evidence of any such campaign. Indeed, the extent of the evidence offered by Human Rights Campaign and other left-wing groups seems to be that propagating rumors regarding sexual orientation is "straight out of the right-wing playbook."
Timothy Egan, a New York Times reporter for 18 years before turning into a liberal blogger at nytimes.com, demanded in a Wednesday night posting that the next Supreme Court justice hail from a law school other than Harvard or Yale: "Supreme Club."
At last count, there were about 200 law schools in the United States accredited by the American Bar Association, but apparently only two of them -- Harvard and Yale -- can be a path to serving on the highest court in the land.
It was surprising enough to see that with the retirement of Justice John Paul Stevens, the Supreme Court will not have a single Protestant among its black-robed elite. But equally jaw-dropping was the fact that without Stevens, every member of the court has attended Harvard or Yale law school.
Fair enough. But he goes off the rails claiming that Stevens, who has held down the liberal wing of the court for years, is actually a moderate. In fact, Egan seems to go further than even liberal former Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse in bizarrely claiming that there are no liberals on the court, just four moderates, balanced, presumably, against five conservatives! This on a court that includes, besides Stevens, former ACLU lawyer Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Stevens, one of four moderates on the Court, has held that seat. He is not just the last World War II veteran to serve, but as a product Northwestern University Law School, he succeeded a very iconoclastic justice, William O. Douglas, whose law school days were not spent in Cambridge or New Haven.
The front pages of the New York Times over the weekend were dominated by the announced retirement of Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, with stories looking back at his legacy as well as looking toward the upcoming political battle over replacing him.
....some conservatives who led the fight against Justice Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation last year said they should learn from mistakes made then, like making grand claims about raising vast sums of money only to find that Republican senators were not as committed to an all-out battle.
"We will all be laughed at -- including laughed at by Republican senators -- by raising the war cries too loud and too early, when in fact the senators will not deliver what we are promising," said Manuel Miranda of the Third Branch Network, who organizes regular conference calls of like-minded conservatives about judicial nominations. Instead, he said, conservatives should take a more "modest" and "measured" approach at first.
Biskupic, a regular on PBS's Washington Week who left the Washington Post for USA Today ten years ago, contented “President Reagan and the first President Bush used their second Supreme Court nominations to make bold choices that strongly advanced their ideological interests” with Reagan picking “conservative jurist [Antonin] Scalia” while George H.W, Bush, after selecting “a moderate appeals court judge, David Souter,” settled on Clarence Thomas, “now one of the court's most conservative justices.”
In contrast, “when President Clinton got his second court vacancy, he opted for the pragmatic liberal Stephen Breyer rather than a real firebrand.” Repeating her point, with Clinton she saw more nuance than with the GOP Presidents: “His first pick was pragmatic liberal judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in 1993. His second pick Breyer, in 1994, was in the same mode.”
Retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens is actually a conservative according to Newsweek columnist Andrew Romano, who apparently hasn't read any Supreme Court decisions in the last 20 years or so.
Romano rejects the notion that Stevens is a liberal, going so far as to chastise his fellow members of the media who frequently get suckered by "whichever shorthand, cheat-sheet label gets repeated most frequently." Romano further writes that the current coverage is "myopic" and that the lowly uniformed "laypeople are being given little choice but to remember the hunched, bow-tied Stevens, 89, as really, really liberal—Dennis Kucinich in robes."
In his end-of-the-show commentary on Sunday's Face the Nation on CBS, host Bob Schieffer cited a Saturday New York Times article celebrating retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens: "that Justice Stevens 'may be the last justice from a time when ability and independence, rather than perceived ideology, were viewed as the crucial qualifications for a seat on the court.'"
Schieffer agreed with that assessment and declared that for President Gerald Ford "sending John Paul Stevens to the Supreme Court is not a bad legacy." He concluded: "As Justice Stevens's fine service was being rightly celebrated last week, I couldn't help but think of that as well."
Prior to his commentary, Schieffer spoke with CBS legal analyst Jan Crawford about possible nominees to replace Stevens. Crawford argued that President Obama and Democrats would attempt to "counter" Republican efforts to "beat up on their candidate," "by continuing to portray the Supreme Court as out of touch with everyday Americans."
Mike Barnicle just wrapped up the Obama Parrot of the Week. That's the award I hand out on my local TV show to the MSMer doing his sycophantic best to parrot the Obama party line. Barnicle gave his award-winning performance on today's Morning Joe, in the course of tossing two super-softballs to David Axelrod.
Barnicle's first lob bemoaned the difficulties of governing in this hyper-partisan, cable-TV age. His second softball chastised Republicans for their announced intention to oppose Pres. Obama's Supreme Court nominee. Which raises the question: do the names Robert Bork—or Clarence Thomas—mean anything to Mike Barnicle?
On the front of Sunday's Washington Post, Supreme Court reporter Robert Barnes unfurled the first liberal spin line of the battle over a new Supreme Court justice: that there's no way whoever Obama nominates will be more liberal than retiring John Paul Stevens. Barnes said "almost certainly" the court will be more conservative after Obama's second nominee is confirmed.
Can anyone imagine the media buying that spin for a second after, say, Chief Justice Rehnquist passed away? Oh, Bush can't possibly make the court more conservative. "Almost certainly," the court will be more liberal now.
Barnes completely accepted Justice Stevens laying down a marker for his half of the court, and made it the newspaper's own front-page spin:
On ABC’s This Week, when retired ABC newsman Sam Donaldson recommended that President Barack Obama nominate, to replace Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, someone who “is going to stand up for the principles – on the left, if you will – that he believes in,” Cokie Roberts jumped in: “I’m not so sure he is so far to the left.” Donaldson agreed: “Well, I’m not sure either.”
Minutes later, Roberts contended the efforts of state attorneys general, to get a federal court to rule unconstitutional ObamaCare’s requirement every citizen get health insurance, reminded her of the “nullification” which led to the Civil War:
You have these fourteen states attorneys general saying that they want to have the court overturn the recently passed health care law. I must say, I was just with my grand kids at Fort Sumter, and the notion of nullification made me extremely nervous because it was, of course, the first step toward the Civil War.
Appearing in the 11AM ET hour on MSNBC Friday, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams gushed over the legacy of retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens: "He was famously called a 'lawyer's lawyer'...He leaves the court approaching his 90th birthday here, with one of the great quality minds, 90 or not, on the Supreme Court. Always had a kind of finely tuned intellect and nuanced opinions."
Apparently, consistently handing down left-wing rulings is what Williams considers "nuanced. "
Williams went on to conclude: "It's just been so interesting to see his ideology change over the years. You never know what's going to happen to a person when you appoint them to the Supreme Court....no one in 1975 would have believed you if you'd said someday this man, President Ford's appointment, would be known as the lion of the liberal wing of the court in 2010."
Wrapping a look at those whom President Obama may nominate to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, ABC’s Terry Moran worried Friday night if Obama can “even hold” the liberal ground espoused by Stevens given “today’s bitter political climate.” He fretted that “the real question for President Obama” is:
Could a nominee with positions as liberal as Justice Stevens on abortion, gay rights, presidential power -- could that nominee even get confirmed in today's bitter political climate?
Moran, from New Orleans, site of the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, on the Friday, April 9 World News:
New York Times legal reporter Charlie Savage's original online report on the long-expected retirement of liberal Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens (filed Friday afternoon) had a familiar ring to it which went beyond the usual effusiveness the paper bestows on liberal justices.
While noting Stevens held down the left wing of the Supreme Court, Savage twice emphasized the court's "increasingly conservative" nature in his original nytimes.com posting:
A soft-spoken Republican and former antitrust lawyer from Chicago, Justice Stevens has led liberals on a court that has become increasingly conservative. He was appointed by President Gerald Ford in December 1975 to succeed Justice William O. Douglas, who had retired the month before. He is the longest-serving current justice by more than a decade.
Confronted with a court far more conservative than the one he joined, Justice Stevens showed the world what his colleagues already knew: that beneath his amiable manner lay a canny strategist and master tactician, qualities he used to win victories that a simple liberal-conservative head count would appear to be impossible. A frequent dissenter even in his early years on the court, he now wrote more blunt and passionate opinions, explaining on several occasions that the nation was best served by an open airing of disagreements.
This next paragraph sounded very familiar to Times Watch:
On Sunday's Newsroom, CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin disputed the conclusion of the Los Angeles Times on the apparently shocking new political initiative of Clarence Thomas's wife Virginia Thomas, that it "could give rise to conflicts of interest for her husband...as it tests the norms for judicial spouses." Toobin defended Mrs. Thomas' grassroots conservative work.
Anchor Don Lemon brought on the senior legal analyst just before the bottom of the 10 pm Eastern hour to discuss Kathleen Hennessey's article in the Sunday L.A. Times, titled "Justice's wife launches 'tea party' group." The Times writer indicated that Mrs. Thomas' new organization somehow risked the partiality of the Court, as indicated in the article’s subtitle, "The nonprofit run by Virginia Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, is likely to test notions of political impartiality for the court." She continued later that "the move by Virginia Thomas, 52, into the front lines of politics stands in marked contrast to the rarefied culture of the nation's highest court, which normally prizes the appearance of nonpartisanship and a distance from the fisticuffs of the politics of the day."
The Media Institute, a Washington-based non-profit, has called on Keith Olbermann to apologize for comparing one of its Jewish staff members to a Nazi collaborator.
During a January 21 screed regarding the controversial Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission -- in which the Supreme Court granted all companies the same rights as MSNBC's parent company GE -- Olbermann called the Media Institute's Floyd Abrams, a Jew, "the Quisling of freedom of speech in this country."
Vidkun Quisling, for those who don't know, was a Norwegian Nazi collaborator who aided in the Third Reich's conquest of his country by disclosing vital defense information to the Nazis. If Benedict Arnold had been complicit in genocide, we might consider Quisling his Norwegian equivalent.
The New York Times published a scathing editorial Sunday condemning Americans who have the audacity to request that attorneys who represented terrorists not set national legal policy. The Times smeared them and their elected representatives as McCarthyites, and criticized them for noting that colossal conflict of interest.
"It is not the first time that the right has tried to distract Americans from the real issues surrounding detention policy by attacking lawyers," the Times states of controversy over Attorney General Eric Holder's reluctance to inform Congress who in the Justice Department has represented alleged terrorists, and in what capacity are they now serving.
But the left has done just that -- use nominees' records as means to block their appointments -- and the Times hasn't complained. So why the sudden outrage? Well, the paper's liberal editorial board doesn't mind when the left attacks. But when conservatives demand answers, they are evil McCarthyites on a political witch hunt.
Someone submit the Morning Joe java to Henry Waxman for analysis. There seems to be something in it causing top Dems to experience serious delusions . . .
On today's show, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius claimed that the people of her home state of Kansas are "wildly supportive" of the substance of ObamaCare. Unfortunately, suggested Sebelius, they're just too ignorant to know what's in the blessed bill.
Later, DNC Chairman Tim Kaine didn't deny that the Obama admin had engaged in two sleazy patronage deals, involving Joe Sestak and Scott Matheson. Instead, the DNC Chairman laughed off the cynical, and possibly illegal, arrangements. "Life is life," smirked Kaine.
To Morning Joe's credit, the patronage deals and the Charlie Rangel situation were discussed throughout the show. The withdrawal of Dem Rep. Eric Massa from his re-election race, amidst allegations he sexually harrassed a male staffer, was also discussed, though not raised with Kaine. Would an RNC Chairman appearing on the show the day after the Mark Foley affair erupted have gotten a similar pass?
"I pray God when the Democrats take back control we don’t make the kind of naked power grab you are doing." - Joe Biden, 2005
Few Americans would be shocked to hear that members of Congress are not always consistent, and occasionally outright hypocritical. Very often, however, the liberal media attempts to downplay Democratic double standards and highlight Republican ones.
Each recent change in the congressional majority, it seems has brought calls from the newly dominant party for an end to the filibuster. This Democratic majority is no different.
When noting rhetorical inconsistencies, however, the mainstream media has jumped at the chance to note that Republicans, now using the filibuster as a potential means to block Democratic health care legislation, were ardent advocates of majoritarianism in the Senate only a few years ago (as demonstrated in the video below the fold).
It's hardly news that black conservatives are reviled among much of the left. There seems to be a sense among much of the liberal media that they have betrayed their own interests through their conservative principles.
Few, however, would have the (dare I say it) audacity to lump prominent and accomplished African American political figures in with oppressive genocidal dictators and serial killers.
But TheRoot.com, a blog owned by the Washington Post, seems to have no qualms about doing so, as evidenced in its list of 21 "Black Folks We'd Like To Remove From Black History". Among the names are Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele.
Also included on the list: murderous Ugandan military dictator Idi Amin, the notorious "DC Sniper" John Allen Muhammad, Zimbabwean kleptocrat Robert Mugabe and the ruthless father-and-son Haitian dictators "Papa Doc" and "Baby Doc" Duvalier.
Update - 7:15 PM | Lachlan Markay: The questions from the poll phrase the issue in similarly misleading language. Details below.
The news media have a tremendous potential to shape public opinion. So when they misreport important events, it has significant consequences for public opinion and public policy.
An ABC News/Washington Post poll released today shows that 80 percent of Americans disagree with the Supreme Court's ruling in the Citizens United v. FEC decision last month. Perhaps if the Post stopped misleading its readers about the decision as it did today in reporting the poll, public opinion would look differently.
The misinformation begins right in the lede, where reporter Dan Eggen claims the SCOTUS decision "allows corporations and unions to spend as much as they want on political campaigns." That statement is utterly false. The decision allows corporations and unions to spend unlimited dollars on political advertising. Restrictions on campaign contributions are still in place.
The left is up in arms over the Supreme Court's recent decision in "Citizens United v. the Federal Elections Commission". But few voices have been louder than those emanating from the echo chamber at MSNBC. It seems that the cable network's talking heads feel that their parent company, General Electric, deserves a special exemption to what should be a blanket ban on unrestricted corporate speech.
First a bit of background for those unfamiliar with the Supreme Court decision. The court struck down in a 5-4 ruling a ban on corporate (or union) spending on political speech specifically endorsing or attacking a candidate for office within 30 days of a primary or 60 days of a general election. It ruled that the ban violated the First Amendment.
Few liberals seemed to notice that in attacking corporate speech they were also effectively undermining their own employers, media corporations who employs them for the express purpose of engaging in political speech. Surely Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow would defend MSNBC's right to speak (and spend) freely without interference from the federal government--especially in the run-up to an election when free speech is most important and must be protected.
During CNN’s post-State of Union coverage on Wednesday night, three liberal commentators- Paul Begala, James Carville, and Roland Martin- put up an energetic defense of President Obama’s rebuke of the Supreme Court during the address. Begala and Carville took issue with Republican panelist Alex Castellanos’s reproof of the President, while Martin rebuked Justice Samuel Alito’s reaction.
Anchor Wolf Blitzer played a clip of the relevant portion of the President’s speech, where Mr. Obama condemned the Court for its recent decision on campaign finance regulations, and highlighted how Justice Alito shook his head and mouthed “not true” in response. Blitzer then turned to the panel for its take on the moment. His fellow anchor Campbell Brown, who was moderating the panel, first questioned Castellanos on Alito’s reaction: “Was that appropriate, Alex Castellanos, to have that kind of reaction from Alito when he said that?”
The guy has an hour-long television show that isn't the highest-rated program on cable television, but does fairly well considering the circumstances. Yet, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, who has expressed his own "unhinged" anger about the Supreme Court ruling that corporations have a free speech right to participate in elections, says there is a deficiency of anger about the ruling.
Olbermann, on the Jan. 22 "Countdown," launched into another one of his abbreviated tirades, or what he calls is a "Quick Comment" and blasted his colleagues in the media for not being as "enlightened" as he thinks they should be.
"I worked full-time in sports for about 20 years and I've worked full- time in news for about 10 years," Olbermann said. "And after yesterday, I must finally say aloud what I have long thought but have been reluctant to voice. The average person in the American news industry appears to be about one-fifth as plugged into the world he or she covers, as does the average person in the American sports industry.
Near the end of the 3PM ET hour of CNN’s Rick’s List on Friday, host Rick Sanchez couldn’t seem to figure out who was protesting at the March for Life in Washington D.C.: “It’s the 37th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade case....both sides being represented today, but it does appear to me, as I look at these signs that – which side is represented the most....Do we know?”
Sanchez directed that question to his executive producer Angie Massie as he went to a commercial break. Of course, the March for Life, as it’s name implies, is an annual gathering of pro-life activists in the nation’s capital to voice their opposition to abortion on the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. As Rick puzzled over which side was more represented, live footage appeared on screen showing a seemingly equal number of pro-abortion and pro-life protestors.
Returning from the commercial break, Sanchez clarified that most of the protestors “seem to be” pro-life, but still seemed completely unfamiliar with the annual event: “As far as we can tell, following this protest on this day, the bulk of the protesters that we have seen here – that doesn’t mean there aren’t others, because we haven’t gone out and counted them individually – seem to be anti-abortion activists. We’ve seen more pro-life signs than we have the others.”
As the nation's leading newspaper and a beneficiary of the American tradition of free expression, the New York Times would of course celebrate a First Amendment victory at the Supreme Court, right? Well, not exactly.
Friday's lead slot was dominated by the Supreme Court's expected but still momentous decision rejecting limits on corporate campaign spending in elections.
But the subhead to Adam Liptak's story, "Justices, 5-4, Reject Corporate Campaign Spending Limit," ignored the victory for free speech in favor of dour liberal fears: "Dissenters Argue That Ruling Will Corrupt Democracy."
Overruling two important precedents about the First Amendment rights of corporations, a bitterly divided Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the government may not ban political spending by corporations in candidate elections.
The 5-to-4 decision was a vindication, the majority said, of the First Amendment's most basic free speech principle -- that the government has no business regulating political speech. The dissenters said that allowing corporate money to flood the political marketplace would corrupt democracy.
A publicly-traded corporation, The Washington Post Company (NYSE: WPO) publishes a daily newspaper which includes daily editorials aimed at influencing public opinion inside the corridors of Congress, White House, and regulatory agencies, and ultimately over voter preferences at the polls.
Yet when it comes to conservative groups or non-mainstream media for-profit corporation engaging in the same use of "unlimited independent expenditures" to influence voters, that's an entirely different story for the Post, which slammed yesterday's Supreme Court ruling as "Judicial Activism Inc.":
CNN legal analyst Lisa Bloom condemned the voter-approved Proposition 8 in California in an editorial on CNN.com on Tuesday, and labeled the Supreme Court’s Lawrence v. Texas decision in 2003 as “the gay community's Brown v. Board of Education.” Bloom would later imply that the supporters of Prop 8 were “lunatic-fringe bigots.”
The legal analyst began the January 12, 2010 editorial, titled “Prop 8 is simply unconstitutional,” by contrasting “reckless heterosexual nuptials,” such as the 23 marriages of a grandmother in Indiana, with her friends Wilbert and Carlos, “‘free men’ together 16 years and lovingly raising a son, [who] are shut out of the 1,100 federal and hundreds of state legal benefits that come with marriage.” She continued by dropping another personal anecdote, citing the “children in same-sex families: kids like my friends’ son Dorian, growing up with the sting of knowing that his parents are second-class citizens in their own country.”
CNN senior political analyst David Gergen went so far to compare the Senate’s cloture vote early Monday morning on ObamaCare to the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision. Seconds after the Senate concluded its vote, Gergen lamented the party line vote, and contrasted it with the unanimous finding of the Supreme Court which ended the segregation of schools [audio clips from segment available here].
The analyst appeared during CNN’s midnight special coverage as the Senate concluded its debate on its version of health care “reform” legislation. Sixteen minutes into the 1 am hour, anchor Tom Foreman asked the perennial White House advisor about the expected partisan vote: “What’s wrong with the Democrats simply saying- fine, you don’t want to vote with us? This is entirely ours.”
...is now ending his CourtWatch blog, all the while insisting that his writings over the years were mostly dry legalese and that those which were not, well, that's the fault of the people he was writing about, namely, the Bush adminstration.
Almost like clockwork, on the very day Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will be introducing a new healthcare proposal which includes a government-run component, NBC and the Wall Street Journal will be releasing results of a new poll showing support for such a plan "at its highest level since the debate began."
This will make it perfect for the evening news programs to share details about the Democrats' bill as they convince viewers Americans are for it.
NBC's Mark Murray posted the following at the network's website moments ago: