In quite a contrast to the immediate tagging of the Bush and Obama Supreme Court nominees as “conservative” (and that includes Sonya Sotomayor), on Monday night ABC and NBC refrained from applying any ideological description to Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan while CBS snuck in one. CBS's Jan Crawford declared “her career has put her solidly on the left,” but contended “she will have significant conservative support among academics and lawyers” and warned “that support alarms some liberals.”
Amongst the non-ideological superlatives: ABC's Diane Sawyer trumpeted the “historic nomination” of the “five foot three inch powerhouse,” CBS's Crawford insisted “her interests reflect her openness. She loves softball and poker” (poker reflects “openness”?) and NBC's Pete Williams hailed her as an “accomplished poker player, opera lover.”
ABC, CBS and NBC all highlighted Kagan's high school yearbook picture of her in a robe and holding a gavel (ABC's Moran: “Even in high school, check out her yearbook photo here, she had her sights set on the high court”), but none pointed out the explicitly very liberal polemical points she made just a year or two later, nor did CNN's The Situation Room.
In the 7:30AM ET half hour on Monday's CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez lobbed softballs to disgraced former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer about his college friend and Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan: "She's been labeled as moderate. If you had to put a label on her, would you say that one is accurate?" A headline on screen read: "Who is Elena Kagan?"
Spitzer replied: "I guess you could say moderate....it's very hard to pigeon hole her." Rodriguez's question was prompted by his insistence that Kagan "is not an ideologue of the Left or the Right and that is clear from what she did as dean of Harvard Law School. Just a perfect temperament to be a justice." Of course, during Kagan's tenure as dean of Harvard Law, she pushed for military recruiters to be barred from campus because of her opposition to 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy.
Rodriguez wondered about Kagan's college days: "Can you think of a story or an anecdote from back then?" Spitzer recalled: "a friend and I were going back and forth about who could eat more, she goaded us into having a spaghetti eating contest." Rodriguez looked for the best way to spin the story to make it relevant: "I'm trying to take something from that, could it be that she's persuasive, can bring people together, which is what the President is hoping?" In response, Spitzer declared that once on the Supreme Court, Kagan "will get the fifth vote."
President Barack Obama's second nominee to the Supreme Court, Elena Kagan, is drawing fire from both liberals and conservatives to such an extent that her challenge in the confirmation hearings "will be to show that while she may hail from Harvard, she has the heart of an empathetic, all-American patriot."
At least that's Stuart Taylor Jr.'s take in a May 10 Newsweek "Web exclusive" that garnered prominent real estate on the magazine's Web site today (see screencap above at right).
Taylor presented Kagan more as a technocratic "establishmentarian" than an ideologue or partisan, despite her current and former affiliations with the Obama and Clinton administrations respectively:
On Monday's GMA, ABC's George Stephanopoulos dealt with the Elena Kagan Supreme Court nomination by interviewing former Obama official Greg Craig, but no one from the conservative/Republican side as a guest. The anchor did raise potential threats to Kagan's nomination, but failed to follow through when Craig omitted a key detail about the nominee's anti-military record as dean of Harvard Law School.
Stephanopoulos led off the interview, which began 8 minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour, with a softball question: "What's the single thing that impresses President Obama most about Kagan?" After the former White House counsel and former Clinton administration official played up Kagan's allegedly "extraordinary" amount of experience, the ABC anchor then asked, "What do you think is the single greatest threat to her nomination- to confirmation?"
NBC and ABC on Thursday night framed stories around concerns of “abortion rights” advocates who want proof Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor is on their side, but both cloaked their pieces around the proposition “both sides” of the debate are equally worried.
With “Where Does She Stand?” as the on-screen heading, as if there is genuine belief Obama would have selected the judge without knowing she'd uphold Roe v Wade, NBC anchor Lester Holt set up a story through the prism of pro-abortion activists as he announced that White House “spokesman Robert Gibbs says the President did not specifically ask her about the right to privacy, a key issue in the abortion debate.” Reporter Pete Williams proceeded to declare that Sotomayor's stand on abortion is “a mystery” as “both sides on the abortion issue agree...they're eager to know exactly what Sonia Sotomayor thinks about abortion and the constitution.” Viewers then heard only from one side, an “abortion rights advocate.”
During live CBS News coverage on Monday of President Obama's nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer argued that the Senate confirmation process would be "nasty....Not because of Elena Kagan....she is eminently qualified" but because Republicans are "very wary of what the right part of their party is thinking about them."
As evidence of his theory, Schieffer pointed to the primary defeat of Republican Utah Senator Bob Bennett on Saturday: "it is a very toxic election year. You saw over the weekend that Bob Bennett, the very conservative Republican senator from Utah lost the Republican nomination out in his home state because people there, including a lot of tea party people, thought he was not conservative enough." He concluded: "I think in the end, she will probably be confirmed, but I think it's going to be a very tough vote for a lot of Republicans and I think it's going to take some time before they get to that final vote."
In response to Schieffer's assertion, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric, who broke into CBS daytime programing at 10AM ET with a special report on the nomination, lamented: "Nothing is easy or simple in Washington these days, Bob."
During ABC’s live coverage of President Obama’s nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, Diane Sawyer and a quartet of correspondents failed to find a single thing to criticize about the new nominee. Instead, Sawyer touted it as a “history making day” (although why is unclear, since she's the fifth woman to be nominated), and touted Kagan as a feminist “trailblazer” and a “conciliator” between “the conservative and liberal wings of the Court.”
Good Morning America co-anchor George Stephanopoulos agreed Kagan had a “reputation for bringing conservatives and liberals together,” and recounted how he and Kagan worked side-by-side in Bill Clinton’s White House: “She does have a great temperament, very easy-going, a good sense of humor.” Then, as Kagan and President Obama strode to the podium, Sawyer quoted the nominee complimenting herself: “We had a soundbite from her saying she had a reputation for being a very good teacher.”
The gay blog Towleroad doesn't really care whether or not Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan is gay or straight. What matters is the record of staunch "LGBT" liberalism. Apparently, outing is only for "anti-gay" people: "The other question is, why do CBS (and other mainstream outlets) lose the balls when politicians actually deserve to be outed for voting hypocritically on issues that actually affect people's lives?"
Towleroad earlier forwarded how Harvard freshman Dylan Matthews poured out the love for Kagan's left-wing record on the Campus Progress blog:
Kagan has also done some notable work on LGBT rights litigation. Her most significant work is on the Solomon Amendment, legislation that withholds federal funds from colleges and universities when they ban military recruiters because the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy conflicts with many universities’ antidiscrimination policies. As dean, Kagan supported a lawsuit intended to overturn the legislation so military recruiters might be banned from the grounds of schools like Harvard. When a federal appeals court ruled the Pentagon could not withhold funds, she banned the military from Harvard’s campus once again. The case was challenged in the Supreme Court, which ruled the military could indeed require schools to allow recruiters if they wanted to receive federal money. Kagan, though she allowed the military back, simultaneously urged students to demonstrate against Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
Here's the thing about the vast right-wing conspiracy: it doesn't really exist. The left's latest attempt to invoke the notion has ended in rebuttals from commentators on both sides of the political spectrum.
Conservative blogger Ben Domenech noted the White House's apparent desire to appoint a homosexual to the Supreme Court. He noted in a post at the New Ledger that at least three nominees -- Pam Karlan, Kathleen Sullivan, and Elana Kagan -- are gay. The White House vehemently denied the latter. The left was not happy.
Huffington Post contributor Sam Stein quoted a spokesman for Human Rights Campaign, who alleged a "shameless … whisper campaign" started by the "far right," echoing other groups' statments to the same effect.
But there is no evidence of any such campaign. Indeed, the extent of the evidence offered by Human Rights Campaign and other left-wing groups seems to be that propagating rumors regarding sexual orientation is "straight out of the right-wing playbook."