CBS Paints Nomination Issues Through Liberal Prism, “Even Far Right” Will Like Miers

<p>
<img vspace="0" hspace="0" border="0" align="right" src="http://newsbusters.org/media/2005-10-03-CBSENRoberts.jpg" />All three broadcast network evening newscasts on Monday focused attention on the disappointment expressed by conservatives at President Bush's nomination of Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court, but the <i>CBS Evening News</i> went the furthest in reporting the selection through a liberal prism. Anchor Bob Schieffer employed “rights” language which put the liberal position in a positive light: “Social conservatives wanted someone who is on the record against gay rights and abortion rights. Many liberals wanted someone who is for abortion rights.” </p><p> John Roberts put the most negative hue on Miers' connection to Bush as he asserted that “Miers' ties to President Bush are too close for some people on the left and right. What looks like, they say, to be the very embodiment of cronyism.&quot; To back that up, Roberts ran a clip from CBS News legal analyst Andrew Cohen. Unlike ABC's Terry Moran and NBC's Pete Williams, Roberts failed to point out (as did Gloria Borger in a subsequent piece) how Miers gave a $1,000 to the Al Gore campaign in 1988, but Roberts, using phraseology favorable to abortion backers, stressed her position on abortion: “We do know as head of the Texas bar, she fought against support for abortion rights and she was a patron of a Texas anti-abortion group. Friends say she is very religious.” Roberts concluded with an extreme label: “White House officials, including the Vice President, insist she has the sort of bedrock conservative judicial philosophy that even the far right will like.&quot; (I doubt Cheney used the term “far right.”) </p><p>
<!--break--> In contrast, NBC's Kelly O'Donnell delivered a less certain conclusion: &quot;Both sides agree what is not known about her matters most. If confirmed, will she be a swing vote like Justice O'Connor, or will Miers tilt the highest court to the right?&quot;</p><blockquote>Bob Schieffer opened the October 3 <i>CBS Evening News</i>: “Well, social conservatives wanted someone who is on the record against gay rights and abortion rights. Many liberals wanted someone who is for abortion rights. The President crossed them all up today and chose a friend, Harriet Miers, the current White House counsel who has worked with and for the President in various posts over the years, but has never served as a judge, is his choice to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court.”<br /><br />Reporter John Roberts provided an overview of Miers' career. After a soundbite from a thrilled high school friend of Miers', Roberts cautioned: “But Miers' ties to President Bush are too close for some people on the left and right. What looks like, they say, to be the very embodiment of cronyism.”<br /> <br />Andrew Cohen, CBS News legal analyst, now sporting a goatee: “The appearance is that President Bush has once again put into high office someone who is a personal friend of his who may not have all the qualifications for the job, someone who doesn't necessarily have the professional competence to excel.”<br /><br />Roberts: “So can the White House prove this is more than just a political reward?” <br /><br />Dan Bartlett, counselor to the President: “I would take the fact that President Bush knows her so well as added comfort for the American people, because he knows the intangibles that you always want to think about when you're putting somebody in such a powerful position.”<br /><br /><img vspace="0" hspace="0" border="0" align="right" src="http://newsbusters.org/media/2005-10-03-CBSENMiers.jpg" />Roberts: “Aside from her qualifications, the other big issue: How would Miers shape the court from this critical swing seat? We do know as head of the Texas bar, [matching text on screen] she fought against support for abortion rights and she was a patron of a Texas anti-abortion group. Friends say she is very religious. And while she's low-key, doesn't broadcast her politics, she's described as a mainstream conservative. The Miers paper trail is incredibly thin, leaving no reliable guide as to how she would vote on this nation's most pivotal issues. But White House officials, including the Vice President, insist she has the sort of bedrock conservative judicial philosophy that even the far right will like.” </blockquote>

Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center