ABC Adopts Liberal Depiction of CAP: "Discriminatory, Opposed to Women & Minorities”

All three broadcast network evening shows on Wednesday night highlighted Mrs. Alito crying at the Senate confirmation hearing for her husband Samuel, as Republican Senator Lindsey Graham apologized for character attacks on her husband by left-wing Senators. Citing the breakdown, CBS’s Gloria Borger suggested the emotional outburst “may be the picture that people really remember from these hearings,” and she asked: “The question is whether the Democrats took this a step too far today?" But ABC adopted as fact the liberal Democratic allegations about the supposedly bigoted agenda of Concerned Alumni of Princeton (CAP). World News Tonight anchor Elizabeth Vargas referred to Alito’s “membership in a controversial group opposed to women and minorities at his college.” The subsequent report from George Stephanopoulos highlighted a soundbite of Democratic Senator Richard Durbin describing CAP as one which “would discriminate against women and minorities." Stephanopoulos relayed how Democrats “say the group was notorious for its discriminatory agenda when Alito listed it in his 1985 job application for the Reagan Justice Department. So notorious that prominent Princeton alumni like Senate Republican Leader Bill Frist had publicly disavowed it."

In fact, a founder of the group, William Rusher, told National Review Online that CAP was simply “a group of alumni who were concerned over various liberal tendencies that had developed in the Princeton administration." A member of the group, former New Jersey Superior Court Judge Andrew Napolitano, now an FNC contributor, told FNC’s John Gibson late Wednesday afternoon that it was not “anti-integrationist, anti-feminist,” but instead “was a traditional, conservative mainstream organization.” Napolitano added that the group’s magazine, from which Senator Ted Kennedy read to smear Alito with guilt by association, had as its editor a woman as well as a man who was a native of India. (More from Napolitano, as well as transcripts of the ABC and CBS stories, follow.)

Borger described CAP as “a group that opposed affirmative action and co-education at his alma mater." On the NBC Nightly News, Pete Williams refrained from pejoratives as he relayed how Alito in 1985 had called CAP “a conservative alumni group” and Williams later referred to “the alumni group.”

An excerpt from an interview with Rusher, the former Publisher of National Review, conducted Wednesday afternoon by National Review Online Editor Kathryn Jean Lopez:
Kathryn Jean Lopez: What was your involvement in the Concerned Alumni of Princeton?

William A. Rusher: In or about 1972, I was asked to be on the board of the newly formed CAP. I remained on it for a few years, but am sure I left long before the organization closed down in the middle or late 1980s. My files on CAP went to the Library of Congress, along with my other files, in or about 1988 when I retired from National Review.

Lopez: What was Concerned Alumni of Princeton?

Rusher: CAP was exactly what its name implied: a group of alumni who were concerned over various liberal tendencies that had developed in the Princeton administration in recent years. Shelby Cullom Davis, the former ambassador to Switzerland, gave us the money that enabled us to send mailings to the alumni, etc. Naturally, the University administration wasn't happy about our existence.

Lopez: Was it racist and or sexist? Anti-gay? Ted Kennedy read a pretty bad-sounding quote from its publication today.

Rusher: CAP was none of the things Senator Kennedy is smearing it as being: anti-black, etc. Since Alito apparently had next to no involvement with CAP, Kennedy is trying to give CAP the worst possible reputation, in the hope that some of that will rub off on Judge Alito.

Lopez: Do you for any reason regret your involvement with the group?

Rusher: My only regret is that CAP didn't have a bigger effect on Princeton.

Lopez: As you know, Ted Kennedy has an interest in your papers about CAP. What might they reveal?

Rusher: I haven't seen those files in 30 years, but I am sure there is nothing discreditable in them. Of course, Senator Kennedy can always hope.

Lopez: Do you know Samuel Alito? Do you remember him involved in CAP?

Rusher: I have no recollection of Samuel Alito at all. He certainly was not very heavily involved in CAP, if at all.

END of Excerpt

At about 5:40pm EST on FNC’s Big Story, John Gibson asked Napolitano about CAP: “Was it an anti-integrationist, anti-feminist group?”

Napolitano: “Absolutely not. It was a traditional, conservative mainstream organization, the purpose of which was to give alumni at Princeton a voice in a very, very liberal university administration, and to make sure that ROTC, Reserved Officers Training Corps, which had been kicked off the campus by radicals who firebombed the ROTC building when Sam Alito and I were undergraduates, would come back to Princeton and would stay there. I mean, to say it was against women belies the fact that the editor of the publication was Laura Ingraham, a woman, now a well-known radio talk show host. After Laura Ingraham the editor was Dinesh D’Souza, a scholar at the Hoover Institution and a man of color. So the allegations made by Senator Kennedy are borne by political necessity and are not grounded in truth.”

The MRC’s Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed captioning against the video of the January 11 ABC and CBS stories:

ABC’s World News Tonight:
Elizabeth Vargas: "Good evening. We begin with high emotions at Samuel Alito's Senate confirmation hearing. There were tense moments today, as Democrats grilled the Supreme Court nominee about his views on abortion and his membership in a controversial group opposed to women and minorities at his college. Republicans went to great lengths to praise Alito's record, but the exchange got personal. And the pressure took a toll on Judge Alito's wife. ABC's chief Washington correspondent, George Stephanopoulos, joins us. George, what happened?"

George Stephanopoulos: "It was a dramatic moment, Elizabeth. Sources close to Mrs. Alito say she thought the Democrats' attacks on her husband were disgraceful. And late today, she left the hearing room in tears. All day long, Democrats drilled Alito on character and credibility. Then, Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina rose to his defense."

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), at hearing: "Are you really a closet bigot?"

Judge Samuel Alito, Supreme Court Nominee: "I'm not any kind of a bigot."

Graham: "No, sir, you're not. And you know why I believe that? Not because you just said it, but that's a good enough reason because you seem to be a decent honorable man."

Stephanopoulos: "As the Senator continued, Mrs. Alito began to cry."

Graham: "Your colleagues who say that Sam Alito, whether I agree with him or not, is a really good man."

Stephanopoulos: "When he apologized, she left."

Graham: "Judge Alito, I am sorry that you've had to go through this. I am sorry that your family has had to sit here and listen to this."

Stephanopoulos: "The Democrats had been grilling Alito on his past membership in the Concerned Alumni of Princeton."

Richard Durbin, Senate Minority Whip: "How could you identify with a group that would discriminate against women and minorities?"

Alito: "I've said what I can say about what I can recall about this group, Senator, which is virtually nothing."

Stephanopoulos: "Democrats don't buy it. They say the group was notorious for its discriminatory agenda when Alito listed it in his 1985 job application for the Reagan Justice Department. So notorious that prominent Princeton alumni like Senate Republican Leader Bill Frist had publicly disavowed it."

Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE): "Was part of your rationale for listing it on an application, you thought that would appeal to the outfit you were applying to, the people looking at your resume?"

Alito: "I don't have a recollection of having anything to do with CAPS."

Stephanopoulos: "Sparks flew when Senator Kennedy threatened to shut down the committee if it didn't subpoena documents on the group."

Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA): "We're going to have votes in this committee again and again and again until we have a resolution."

Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA): "Well, Senator Kennedy, I'm not concerned about your threats to have votes again, again and again. And I'm the chairman of this committee, and I have heard your request, and I will consider it."

Stephanopoulos: "Senator Specter did agree to Senator Kennedy's request. And now, Mrs. Alito is back in the hearing room. At a break, Judge Alito went to check on her and escorted her back."


CBS Evening News:
Bob Schieffer: "After two days of fairly polite banter, the questions at the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito had a much sharper edge today. So sharp that at one point they seemed to upset Alito's wife. Here's Gloria Borger."

Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA): "Welcome back, Judge Alito."

Borger: "Day two of questioning started off just like the first, with abortion. Judge Alito said he will keep an open mind on the issue, but Democrats were not buying it."

Richard Durbin, Senate Minority Whip, at hearing: "It evidences a mind that sadly is closed in some areas."

Borger: "Democrats claim that Alito's view of the importance of Roe did not measure up to what John Roberts offered at his confirmation hearing."

Chief Justice John Roberts at his hearing on September 13: "It's settled as a precedent of the court."

Durbin: "Is it the settled law of the land?"

Judge Samuel Alito, Supreme Court Nominee: "It is a precedent that has now been on the books for several decades. It has been challenged, it has been reaffirmed, but it is an issue that is involved in litigation now at all levels."

Borger: "But it was Alito's character that became an issue as Democrats repeatedly challenged his decision in the mid-'80s to join the Concerned Alumni of Princeton, a group that opposed affirmative action and co-education at his alma mater."

Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA): "His explanations about the membership in this sort of radical group are extremely troubling."

Borger: "Despite the fact that he listed his membership on a 1985 job application, Alito now says he doesn't even remember joining the organization. His only explanation? He might have signed up to protest the removal of ROTC from the Princeton campus."

Alito: "The idea that it was beneath Princeton to have an ROTC unit on campus was an offensive idea to me."

Borger: "Late this afternoon, Republicans defended Alito."

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC): "Are you really a closet bigot?"

Alito: "I'm not any kind of a bigot."

Graham: "No, sir, you're not. And you know why I believe that? Not because you just said it, but that's a good enough reason because you seem to be a decent honorable man."

Borger, from Capitol Hill: "Something that brought Alito's wife to tears. That's Mrs. Alito on the left, and this may be the picture that people really remember from these hearings. It was quite an emotional day for the Alitos, and in the end the question is whether the Democrats took this a step too far today, Bob."

Schieffer: "Well, why did the tone change so much here, Gloria?"

Borger: "Well, I think what happened is that yesterday the Democrats started hearing from all of their constituency groups which were really up for a fight saying that they hadn't pushed hard enough on abortion, that they hadn't pushed hard enough on Judge Alito's character, and so today you saw the Democrats really ratcheting up their questioning. It's a very fine line, very difficult, but some say they went over the line."

Schieffer: "Well, let's bring in Jan Crawford Greenburg, our legal analyst from the Chicago Tribune. Tough questions today, Jan, but did we find out anything about Judge Alito that we didn't know."

Jan Crawford Greenburg, at a remote location: "We did not learn how Judge Alito would rule on the big issues of the day: Abortion, presidential power. He declined to answer because those cases could come before him if he is confirmed. Instead we got an introduction to Sam Alito, the man, the calm and quiet son of Italian immigrants who became a conservative jurist and is now tapped for this critical seat on the court."

Schieffer: "Well, I agree with you. I don't think they really touched him up very badly, even as tough as the questions are. Gloria, is he going to be recommended to the full Senate for confirmation by this committee, do you think?"

Borger: "I think he will, Bob. I think right now we see a party-line vote, 10-8, with the Republicans in the majority, and I think the only question right now is whether the Democrats will filibuster him, whether they can get enough moderate Republicans to join them in that fight. Right now that doesn't look likely."
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