CBS Tags CAP as Against “Minorities” and Warns Alito Will Take Court to “the Right”

CBS’s Gloria Borger on Thursday night applied a disparaging and misleading description to Concerned Alumni of Princeton (CAP), providing only the assessment that the group “fought against admitting women and minorities to the school,” when the group, at least on the minority front, just wanted all those admitted to meet the same academic standards. (One wonders if when Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign gets going journalists will show such concern for her support of the sexist Wellesley College.) But Borger also, unlike the ABC or NBC evening newscasts, highlighted a “liberal” former law clerk for nominee Samuel Alito who denounced Democrats: “They are smearing a man of honor and integrity and I am, quite frankly, ashamed of my party at this time."

After Borger’s story, CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer turned to the Chicago Tribune’s Jan Crawford Greenburg who warned that “there's little question” that Alito “would move this court to the right” since “Justice O'Connor provided the critical fifth vote with liberals on key social issues like abortion, religion, affirmative action, and the death penalty.” A confused Schieffer seemed to suggest that Alito alone could threaten Roe, or not: "Well, do you say that he might overturn Roe v. Wade, the key decision on abortion? That's not what you're saying?" Greenburg maintained that “Roe is not at stake with this nomination. Five justices on the court now would uphold Roe.” Framing the issue as one of abortion “rights,” not extending protection of the unborn, Greenburg predicted: “What is more likely is that he would be more willing than Justice O'Connor to allow states to restrict abortion, put greater regulations on the abortion right." (Partial transcript follows.)

On Wednesday night, Borger described CAP as “a group that opposed affirmative action and co-education at his alma mater." See my Wednesday night NewsBusters posting for more on Wednesday night coverage and the real agenda of CAP.

On neither Wednesday or Thursday night did any of the broadcast network evening newscasts scold Senator Ted Kennedy, who suggested Alito shared the views of one author in a CAP magazine, for using McCarthyistic tactics to try to smear Alito with the views of others.

The MRC’s Brad Wilmouth took down a couple of portions of the January 12 CBS Evening News coverage of the Alito hearing, picking up near the end of Gloria Borger’s rundown of the day’s events:
"As for Alito's controversial membership in Concerned Alumni of Princeton, which fought against admitting women and minorities to the school, committee Chairman Arlen Specter all but declared the issue dead after his staff spent the night combing through boxes of the group's documents."

Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), at hearing: "Judge Alito's name never appeared in any document."

Borger: "Alito's former clerks, some of whom say they're liberal, stepped forward to defend his character after Wednesday's combative session."

Jeffrey Wasserstein, former law clerk to Judge Sam Alito, at a press conference: "The senators of my own party, people that I typically financially support, people that I generally want other people to vote for, they are smearing a man of honor and integrity and I am, quite frankly, ashamed of my party at this time."

Borger wrapped up by noting how Martha Alito had gone from “tears” on Wednesday to “beaming” on Thursday.
Bob Schieffer then went to Greenburg: "I want to call in our legal analyst, Jan Crawford Greenburg, of the Chicago Tribune now. She's at the Supreme Court tonight. She's been in the hearings all day. Jan, it appears that Judge Alito is going to be confirmed, if something doesn't go wrong here, but let me ask you, let's say that he is confirmed. How is he going to make the court different than Sandra Day O'Connor, who he is going to replace."

Jan Crawford Greenburg, at the Supreme Court: "Well, there's little question, Bob, that he would move this court to the right. Justice O'Connor provided the critical fifth vote with liberals on key social issues like abortion, religion, affirmative action, and the death penalty. Alito's record suggests he sees those issues differently, and would change the direction of the court."

Schieffer: "Well, do you say that he might overturn Roe v. Wade, the key decision on abortion? That's not what you're saying?"

Greenburg: "No, we didn't get an answer on that this week during the hearing, and Roe is not at stake with this nomination. Five justices on the court now would uphold Roe. What is more likely is that he would be more willing than Justice O'Connor to allow states to restrict abortion, put greater regulations on the abortion right."

Schieffer: "Do you see any chance now that Democrats may still try to filibuster this when it comes to a vote on the Senate floor?"

Greenburg: "Not at this point. Judge Alito was such an effective witness before this committee, and disarmed Democrats and their tough questions. The fight was out of the room today."
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