For Third Time in Under Two Weeks CBS Warns Alito Will Move SCOTUS “To the Right”

For the third time in fewer than two weeks, the CBS Evening News on Tuesday night made sure that viewers realize how the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito would move the court “to the right.” (Neither ABC or NBC have shown such concern for alerting viewers as to the ideological direction of the Supreme Court.) Anchor Bob Schieffer recalled how “the President promised during the election to move this court to the right. And from what we heard in these hearings, what we've already seen with Judge Roberts on the bench, it is moving to the right, isn't it?" Jan Crawford Greenburg of the Chicago Tribune agreed: "That's right” and so “that means this court is poised for an historic shift to right on those key social issues like abortion, affirmative action, gay rights, the death penalty, and perhaps even questions of presidential power."

Last Wednesday (January 18), Schieffer proposed to Greenburg: “This court is moving to the right, isn't it?" Greenburg provided the same answer as she would six days later: "That's right.” She went on to point out how “President Bush said he was going to nominate conservatives like Justice Scalia and Justice Thomas.” And six days before that, on Thursday, January 12, as detailed in this NewsBusters item, Schieffer cued up Greenburg with an open-ended version of the same question: “How is he [Alito] going to make the court different than Sandra Day O'Connor, who he is going to replace?" Greenburg replied: “There's little question, Bob, that he would move this court to the right...” (Transcripts follow)

# January 24 CBS Evening News, after story on Senate Judiciary Committee approving of Alito:
Bob Schieffer: “I'll tell you one thing, Jan, and I want to see what you think about this, the President promised during the election to move this court to the right. And from what we heard in these hearings, what we've already seen with Judge Roberts on the bench, it is moving to the right, isn't it?”

Jan Crawford Greenburg, in front of the Supreme Court: “Well, that's right. The White House is confident that new Chief Justice John Roberts and Sam Alito will be solid, principled conservatives and they won't drift to the left once they've been up here a while as many believe Sandra Day O'Connor did. That means this court is poised for an historic shift to right on those key social issues like abortion, affirmative action, gay rights, the death penalty, and perhaps even questions of presidential power.”


# January 18 CBS Evening News after an abortion ruling with O'Connor in the majority:
Bob Schieffer: "Well, let's talk about that because this was probably Sandra Day O'Connor's last case. The new Chief Justice is now settled in. This court is moving to the right, isn't it?"

Jan Crawford Greenburg: "That's right. And President Bush said he was going to nominate conservatives like Justice Scalia and Justice Thomas. We've seen evidence of that this week. The new chief justice joined those two in supporting the Bush administration's efforts to ban physician-assisted suicide. Conservatives say they expect to see those three together a lot in the years to come, joined by Justice Sam Alito once he's confirmed to replace the moderate Sandra Day O'Connor."


# January 12 CBS Evening News, on the last day Alito appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee:
Bob Schieffer: "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."
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