ABC News didn’t use any labels such as liberal or progressive to describe Judge Sonia Sotomayor during its Tuesday morning coverage of her nomination to the Supreme Court. On the other hand, when President Bush nominated Justice Samuel Alito to the high court in 2005, the network’s correspondents repeatedly used the conservative label to describe the nominee.
During the first segment of the 7 am hour of Good Morning America, before Sotomayor’s name emerged, This Week anchor George Stephanopoulos summarized who was on President Obama’s short list for the court nomination, including Sotomayor, describing the former or current occupations they have, but no ideological descriptions. When anchor Diane Sawyer asked about “what kind of fight is the White House anticipating” from Republicans in the Senate and “how do they plan to deal with it,” Stephanopoulos further explained that “Republicans and conservatives have already prepared dossiers on all three of the top candidates....I’ve talked to several Republicans in the Senate about this -- that the chances they’re going to defeat President Obama’s nominee are very, very low. The bar they’re trying to set -- they’re trying to have a debate over the future of the court, over the ideological direction of the court.” But he never mentioned Sotomayor’s judicial philosophy or political leaning.
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?"
President Obama's nominee to be the State Department's top legal adviser, Harold Koh, "is a radical transnationalist who, based on his writings and statements, aims to use international and foreign law to deprive Americans of our rights as American citizens."
So argue a group of respected conservative leaders including former Attorney General Ed Meese, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, and Media Research Center President Brent Bozell in a May 5 press statement.
You can find the statement in full below the page break:
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.
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."
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."
As Kathleen Sebelius was sworn in as Secretary of Health and Human Services on April 28, the media continued its biased coverage of her controversial appointment. News outlets ignored the reason GOP senators had delayed her confirmation - her pro-abortion extremism - and focused instead on the importance of having the Secretary in place to combat swine flu.
But the media failed to note that since the creation of The Department of Homeland Security epidemic-fighting efforts are no longer headed up by HHS. Homeland Security is supposed to work with the Center for Disease Control. The CDC is led by Acting Secretary Richard E. Besser since the Obama Administration has yet to nominate anyone for the top job, something the media, with exception of CNN's Ed Henry, haven't reported.
An interview with Former Secretary of HHS Donna Shalala on "Fox and Friends" April 29 asks if having no director at the department had an impact on the swine flu crisis. Shalala said, "If you remember we transferred the emergency powers for this kind of outbreak to the Department of Homeland Security when it was created. So that power is no longer in HHS. There is no question though that the CDC plays a lead role here and it's very important to get a CDC director as well as the Secretary sworn in."
In other words, this image that's being projected of Sebelius as some radical defender of the abortion industry is very much overstated. She's a pragmatic executive and it's ludicrous that her confirmation process has become so politicized.
Sebelius is, of course, Barack Obama's health secretary nominee. In that capacity, she'll wield considerable influence over governmental policies concerning abortion. Shelly argues:
I'll say this again: Sebelius is a moderate governor in a state that happens to be home to one of the few doctors willing to perform late-term abortions. Just like many other Kansans, that doctor, George Tiller, has exercised his constitutional right to contribute to political campaigns. Some of his money went to Sebelius.
Shelly doesn't detail how much of Tiller's money went to Sebelius. Earlier this month, the Associated Press reported that the nominee "got nearly three times as much political money" from the abortionist than she had reported to the Senate Finance Committee.
News editors need to retake Journalism 101 or move to features when stories about the White House dog take precedence over a controversial veto by the President's unconfirmed appointment to Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius vetoed a bill, House Substitute for SB 218, April 23 which would have placed additional restrictions on third trimester abortions and allowed more criminal charges over late-term procedures to occur.
With the exception of "Special Report with Bret Baier" that night and "Fox and Friends" the morning of April 24, the broadcast media avoided covering the controversial decision. But "Today," "The Early Show," and "Good Morning America" all had time to cover Michelle Obama talking about the first family's new dog Bo the morning of April 24.
"President Obama's nominee for health secretary received nearly three times as much political money from a controversial abortion doctor as she had told senators," the Associated Press is reporting, noting that this marks "the second time in her confirmation process" that Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D-Kansas) "had to explain a financial oversight" to the Senate Finance Committee.
Sebelius is only the latest Obama Cabinet pick to face a rocky road to confirmation, and in part over tax trouble, yet when it came to reporting the story on the eve of tax deadline day, the Washington Post opted to quietly tuck the story into the Nation Digest feature on page A4.
In addition to the $12,450 Sebelius reported last week as having received "from 1994 to 2001 from George Tiller, one of the nation's few late-term abortion providers," records show that Tiller also donated "at least $23,000 more from 2000 to 2002 to a political action committee that Sebelius established while insurance commissioner to raise money for fellow Democrats."
Sebelius's need to correct "three years' worth of tax returns" and to pay "more than $7,000 in back taxes to fix improper deductions" was the first "oversight" the pro-choice Kansas governor had to correct.
On Wednesday's "Morning Joe," MSNBC co-host Mika Brzezinski twice made it very clear that she has no interest in the revelation that Kathleen Sebelius, Barack Obama's nominee for Health and Human Services, is just the latest pick for the President's cabinet to have tax problems. During a news brief in the 6am hour, Brzezinski related the story and that Sebelius just paid over $7000 in back taxes. She then editorialized to her co-hosts, "Around the table, does anyone care?" [Audio available here.]
"Morning Joe" regulars Mike Barnicle and Willie Geist both replied no. Geist then added, "Get over it." Despite expressing how much she didn't care, Brzezinski repeated the story in the 7am hour and also the same stunt. After briefly explaining the particulars, she complained, "Again, around the table, does anyone care?"
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.
A notorious abortion doctor that specializes in grisly late-term procedures is heading to trial at the same time a politician he contributed to and socialized with is awaiting confirmation as President Obama’s Health and Human Services Secretary. Interesting story? Not to the Associated Press.
AP writer Roxana Hegeman wrote on March 14 about the trial of Dr. George Tiller, which began on March 16. “Tiller is charged with 19 misdemeanors alleging he failed to obtain the required second opinion from an independent physician that a late-term abortion is necessary,” she wrote. “If convicted, the Wichita physician could face a year in the county jail or a fine of $2,500 for each charge.”
On March 9, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on one of Barack Obama's latest nominees. This time it was to assess the suitability of Tony West, Obama's nominee for the assistant attorney general in charge of the U.S. Justice Department's Civil Division. Things went "smoothly" according to the San Jose Mercury News, also publishing a nice bio of West. The Washington Post merely mentioned the hearing was "notable." Similarly the East Bay Express simply makes mention of the hearing having occurred. Apparently there was nothing of interest in West’s nomination.
Curiously enough, though, not one of these brief reports mention that Tony West was "American Taliban" terrorist John Walker Lindh's defense lawyer. Another key bit of info left out of these announcements was that Tony West raised $65 million for Obama's presidential campaign. Money well spent if it gets a cushy government job, I suppose.
Amy Sullivan’s article on Time.com on Thursday, “The Catholic Crusade Against a Mythical Abortion Bill,” tried to downplay President Obama’s past and current support for abortion, and tried to use a technicality to “prove” that there is no chance of passage for the staunchly pro-abortion Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA): “...FOCA has also provided ammunition for those on the right who want to paint Obama as ‘the most pro-abortion president ever.’ It’s been less than a month since he took office, but so far the President has given social conservatives little evidence to back up that charge. He did repeal the Mexico City policy banning federal funds to foreign family planning organizations that provide abortion referrals or services — but so did Bill Clinton.” In reality, the Obama adminstration’s record on the issue consists of much more than merely support for legislative proposals and signing executive orders.
On Saturday’s Fox News Watch, FNC host Bill Hemmer brought up the media’s lack of interest in Barack Obama’s plans to exert control over the 2010 census from the White House, as the show’s panel discussed Republican Senator Judd Gregg’s decision not to accept appointment to the position of Commerce Secretary. Hemmer teased the show: "Is the White House effort to control the census a play to control the vote? And did most of the major media miss this major story?"
Conservative panelist Jim Pinkerton blamed Gregg’s decision on White House Chief-of-Staff Rahm Emanuel’s planned involvement in the census: "What clearly got under his skin was the issue of the census and the clear realization, as Republicans were pointing out to him, that the census, the biggest thing the Commerce Department has to do... And for Gregg to be told that Rahm Emanuel is going to be running that from the White House and changing the numbers around, I think, was too humiliating for him..." On the February 9, Special Report with Bret Baier on FNC, correspondent Jim Angle had notably related: "Lawmakers such as Representative Barbara Lee reportedly yelled at a White House official until he agreed that Gregg would not be left in charge of [the census]."
ABC, CBS and NBC centered their Thursday night stories, on Senator Judd Gregg's decision to withdraw as Commerce Secretary-nominee, around his disagreement with the Obama administration's “stimulus” plan -- with only passing mention, if any, of the administration's wish to move the 2010 census count from Commerce to the White House.
CNN's Jessica Yellin reported at the top of the 6 PM EST Situation Room that “sources close to Senator Gregg say the bigger issue for him was the White House's effort to take control of the census,” yet that politicalization of the census wasn't mentioned at all in a full CBS Evening News story from Chip Reid, who found time to relay how “a top Democratic source on Capitol Hill was more blunt, saying Gregg actively campaigned for the job, then 'erratically dropped out without warning,'” nor in a Katie Couric-Bob Schieffer discussion.
On ABC's World News, George Stephanopoulos offered a clause about the census, but couched as merely a GOP allegation: “Since the nomination became public there were two public issues over who would administer the census -- that was getting politicized according to Republican officials -- and also over the stimulus bill.”
During an interview of President Obama on Tuesday’s Anderson Cooper 360, CNN’s Anderson Cooper included a number of tough questions, compared to his gentle treatment of the Democrat almost a year ago, but concluded with three softball questions on the executive’s search for a family dog, his new limo, and his cigarette habit. The anchor asked the president if he had “lost some of that moral high ground” on his pledge to have an ethical administration, and why the commander-in-chief hadn’t use the phrase “war on terror” much since his inauguration.
The interview aired in three segments during the 10 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program. Cooper began the first segment by asking President Obama about the troubled nomination of Former Senator Tom Daschle to be the HHS Secretary: “Do you feel you messed up in letting it get this far?...What was your mistake -- letting it get this far? You should have pulled it earlier?” The anchor also asked as a follow-up, “Do you feel you have lost some of that moral high ground which you set for yourself on day one with the ethics reform?” The president’s answers on the issue included his admission that the nomination was a “mistake” and that he had “screwed up.”
Yesterday was Pity the Poor President Day in Old Media.
Early last night, I noted how the Associated Press's Ben Feller chose to characterize an already-planned visit by Barack and Michelle Obama to a DC elementary school as an "escape" that "surely made him happy for a while."
A few hours ago, NB's Brent Baker reported with amazement the absurd attempts by CBS's Katie Couric and NBC's Brian Williams to portray Obama -- who either allowed poor vetting by his team or was nonchalant about the tax and other irregularities they found -- as somehow being a "culture of Washington" victim. Zheesh.
As noted Friday evening (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), Jake Tapper at ABC's Political Punch blog revealed that former South Dakota senator Tom Daschle, Barack Obama's nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, had failed to pay over $100,000 in federal income taxes for 2005, 2006, and 2007, because he did not originally report the "the services of (a free) car and driver" provided to him by his employer, private equity firm InterMedia Advisers.
At 11:24 last night, Tapper posted a separate update (HT to NB commenter "slickwillie2001") indicating that Daschle's tax problems involve larger amounts, go well beyond the matter of a "mere" car and driver, and are not completely resolved (bolds are mine):
Former South Dakota Senator Tom Daschle (picture at right is part of a Getty Images pic at a related New York Times story) has just upped the ante in Washington's tax-avoiding/evading game of "Can you top this?"
Whereas recently confirmed Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner "only" $40,000 in back taxes and interest, principally relating to unpaid Social Security and Medicare taxes (with a dash of retirement-plan penalty and illegally deducted overnight summer camp expenses included in the mix), the man who Rush Limbaugh used to call "Puff" Daschle during his Senate days has upped to ante to six figures.
CNBC rabble-rouser and "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer questioned the merits of Timothy Geithner, President Barack Obama's Treasury Secretary-designate, and told viewers on CNBC's Jan. 22 "Street Signs" that, had he been in Geithner's shoes, he'd face criminal prosecution.
"I happen to have a meeting with my lawyers just to discuss this - with my battalion of lawyers, the $2,000-a-hour gang - and you know, they would say if it was Cramer, I would be prosecuted, maybe criminally prosecuted," Cramer said. "And my lawyers were somewhat shocked that on Chris Matthews I said it was OK, given the fact they said Geithner better get himself the best lawyer in town."
Reportedly few Republicans see reason to ultimately vote against confirming Obama's attorney general designee and the GOP Senate minority has only put a one-week delay on his confirmation hearings, but the Washington Post was insistent in its January 22 headline that that Republican senators were set on "Obstruct[ing] Eric Holder's "Path to [the] Justice Dept."
This is markedly different from the Post's take in 2001 when Democratic senators objected to whom the Post called the "highly contentious" John Ashcroft. The January 16, 2001 edition of the Post described the Ashcroft hearings as the "first test of Bush's strength on [Capitol] Hill." (excerpt via Nexis, emphasis mine):
Supporters and opponents of John D. Ashcroft mobilized constituencies and honed strategies yesterday in last-minute preparations for the opening today of confirmation hearings over his highly contentious nomination as attorney general.
I was going through the comments tonight at my Pajamas Media column about the Geithner nomination that went up earlier today, and came across this at Comment 39 from "Mike M":
The deduction he took for the summer camp as a day care expense is EXPRESSLY PROHIBITED IN THE IRS CODE! That’s out and out tax fraud. Even Leona Helmsly (sic) is jealous in her grave ....
It turns out that there is a lot more to the Geithner story. It has been sitting right there in details that were made public last week, but were mostly ignored by the Washington press. While the amounts involved aren't anywhere near as large as those relating to Geithner's self-employment taxes from 2001 through 2004 on his earnings at the International Monetary Fund -- taxes he didn't pay until audited by the IRS (2003 and 2004) or until just before his nomination was announced (2001 and 2002) -- they are nonetheless revealing, infuriating, and disturbing. They make the claims of "honest mistakes" that his defenders up to and including Barack Obama continue to employ look much, much weaker (paragraph image is from Pages 3 and 4 of the relevant report stored here as a PDF; a larger JPEG image is here):