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.
Summing up Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor's performance during four days of hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, ABC's Jan Crawford Greenburg on Thursday night asserted “Republicans argued her views on issues like abortion and gun rights, and her controversial speeches, proved Sotomayor was a liberal activist who would rely on empathy.”
But, Greenburg countered, “Sotomayor -- calmly, persistently, repeatedly -- described herself differently, sounding almost conservative.” To illustrate, Greenburg played this soundbite from Sotomayor: “The great beauty of this nation: that we do leave those law-making to our elected branches, and that we expect our courts to understand its limited role.” Greenburg at least noted “Republicans complained of a confirmation conversion.”
Earlier in her story, Greenburg, who admired how “she really kept her cool throughout,” touted how “Sotomayor finally showed anger” as “she was steely when asked if she ignored the claims of white and Hispanic firefighters who sued for discrimination.”
If you stand in the way of President Barack Obama's agenda, beware because there may be a litany of consequences that could result from your act - regardless if the obstacle is legitimate or not.
On June 8, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg issued a stay to review an appeal by a trio of Indiana pension and construction funds that own a part of Chrysler's secured debt. They claimed the administration's handling of the deal that would have sold Chrysler's assets to Italian automaker Fiat (BIT:F) arbitrarily threw 150 years of bankruptcy law out without process of law.
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.”
ABC senior legal correspondent Jan Crawford Greenburg on Thursday examined a controversial decision judge and Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor made on racial discrimination, while, at the same time, repeatedly declaring that it would be "almost impossible" for Senate Republicans to derail her promotion to the high court. Talking with "Good Morning America" host Robin Roberts, Greenburg asserted, "She's qualified. She's experienced. It's going to be almost impossible for Republicans to do anything to stop her."
Later, after recounting the large Democratic majority, she again proclaimed, "And it's going to be almost impossible, like I said." Now, considering the unfolding revelations about Sotomayor's comments on legislating from the bench, her assertion that a "wise Latina woman" would often reach a better conclusion than a white male, wouldn't it make more sense to not portray the federal judge's nomination as inevitable and as a self fulfilling prophecy?
On balance, however, Greenburg should be commended for filing a report that actually examined the 2003 case of a white, New Haven, Connecticut firefighter who filed a discrimination lawsuit after being denied a promotion, despite obtaining the highest score in a exam. Greenburg pointedly explained the involvement of the nominee: "Sotomayor and two fellow judges dismissed the white firefighters claims and 2000 pages of court papers and filings in one paragraph."
ABC's Charles Gibson, Jan Crawford Greenburg and George Stephanopoulos all stressed Thursday night how, Bush administration Justice Department memos clarifying what techniques interrogators could use with suspected terrorists, included what Stephanopoulos described as “torture with an insect” -- a method ABC failed to note was not ever employed. “Tonight, secret memos,” anchor Charles Gibson teased World News, “new documents reveal in vivid detail just how far the Bush administration went in interrogating terror suspects, using insects, confinement boxes, water-boards and more.”
Reporter Jan Crawford Greenburg characterized the memos as “chilling in their detail,” citing how “they approved prisoners placed in a cramped confinement box with an insect...” Following Greenburg, Stephanopoulos marveled: “Even some congressional officials who had the highest security clearances were surprised by some of the details today, especially that detail about the fact that Zubayda was tortured with an insect in a confinement box.” Let that formulation sink in: “Tortured with an insect.” The horror! (Audio: MP3 of the three insect comments)
Zubaydah, however, was never forced to spend time near a caterpillar, Pete Williams reported on the NBC Nightly News: “In the case of al-Qaeda figure Abu Zubaydah, who feared insects, interrogators were given permission to put a harmless one like a caterpillar in a box in which he was confined, but that technique was never used.”
According to ABC reporter Jan Crawford Greenburg, the co-chair of Barack Obama's vice presidential search committee, Caroline Kennedy, is a "a reluctant media star, stepping into the spotlight to back a man she says reminds her of her father [President John F. Kennedy]." Appearing on Monday's "Good Morning America" to discuss Kennedy's role in the selection process, Greenburg gushed, "Caroline Kennedy was, for a brief moment, the princess of Camelot."
The ABC correspondent even closed the segment by eagerly speculating as to whether the Illinois senator would take a cue from George Bush's 2000 choice: "Now, think about this: Eight years ago George Bush ended up choosing the head of his VP search team Dick Cheney to be his running mate. So, if Obama took a page out of that playbook, imagine this ticket, Obama/Kennedy."
As the broadcast network evening newscasts reported on the Supreme Court ruling against D.C.'s ban on handgun ownership, ABC and CBS both relayed to viewers that D.C. has a high crime rate at the same time handguns are illegal. CBS's Katie Couric to D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty: "I was surprised to hear from Wyatt Andrews that this ban has been in effect for 32 years. ... If that's the case, why has the District remained one of the most dangerous and crime-ridden cities in the country with this ban in effect?" ABC's Jan Crawford Greenburg: "It's been called the nation's murder capital, Washington, D.C., even though handguns were strictly banned."
But on the down side, CBS also ran a report by Bill Whitaker that focused on the complaints of gun control advocates, and seemed oblivious to links between gun control and high crime, even as he admitted Chicago has had a gun ban for 25 years, but still has 325 murders a year as he instead seemed to fret crime would get worse without the city's gun ban. Whitaker: "Chicago, which passed a gun ban similar to D.C.'s 25 years ago, had 325 gun homicides last year -- a 10-year-old shot in the head, a pregnant woman gunned down, a college student shot and killed. Mayor Daley said the Court's decision will make his mean streets even more dangerous." (Transcripts follow)
The broadcast network evening newscasts gave as much emphasis Thursday night to the biting dissent as the majority opinion in the 5-4 Supreme Court ruling on behalf of the Guantanamo detainees, but told the story through the prism of the Bush administration getting rebuked by the decision characterized as “historic” and “landmark” -- with ABC's Martha Raddatz ominously warning “it could be very embarrassing for the administration.”CBS avoided any label for the majority while tagging the dissenters as “conservative” and only NBC noted how some of those already released have committed atrocities.
“The Supreme Court, for the third time, has slammed the Bush administration for its handling of terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay,” CBS anchor Katie Couric announced. Wyatt Andrews asserted “the ruling essentially tells the Bush administration no more halfway justice at Guantanamo” as he segued to a soundbite from a representative of a left-wing group by relaying how “lawyers for the detainees called it a victory for America's reputation around the world.” Andrews, who applied no liberal labels, said the “ruling was bitterly rebuked by the court's conservatives.”
From Kabul, NBC's Brian Williams teased “a big defeat for the Bush administration,” though he later uniquely portrayed the “landmark ruling” as “victory” for the detainees, before Pete Williams tagged both sides, citing “the court's five more liberal members” and “the four conservative dissenters.” ABC anchor Charles Gibson reported that the court “today handed the Bush administration a stinging defeat.” Jan Crawford Greenburg applied the most accurate labeling, referring to how “moderate Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the decision with the four liberal justices” while “conservative Justice Antonin Scalia read a sharp, almost personal dissent.”
CBS and NBC on Thursday night were as interested in highlighting the claims of torture, from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) and four 9/11 terrorist attack co-conspirators who were arraigned by a military commission court in Guantanamo Bay, as to informing viewers about the charges against them. ABC didn't consider the torture allegations relevant and so didn't mention the topic as Jan Crawford Greenburg uniquely described KSM as “evil.” In contrast to NBC which called him a “man” and “defendant,” CBS anchor Katie Couric at least described him as a “terrorist.”
CBS reporter Bob Orr, who emphasized that “some legal critics called the hearing...a complete and utter farce,” relayed how “the self-proclaimed mastermind of 9/11 said openly in court that he had been tortured by the U.S., and he called the case against him a sham.” With the quote on screen, Orr reported: “KSM, who the CIA admits was subjected to water-boarding, questioned the legitimacy of the military hearing. 'For five years, they torture,' he said. 'After the torturing they transfer us to inquisition-land in Guantanamo.'” Orr proceeded to showcase how Aziz Ali charged: “This government failed to treat me as a human for five years.”
On NBC, Jim Miklaszewski highlighted how KSM “called the legal proceedings 'evil'" and featured criticism from the ACLU. Miklaszewski also highlighted the “after five years of torture, they transfer us to inquisition land, Guantanamo” quote, before asserting: “Mohammed was water-boarded by the CIA. Defense attorneys had intended to challenge any of Mohammed's statements on the grounds he was tortured.”
Could this photo be a first? It shows a card-carrying member of the MSM shooting a handgun. That's Jan Crawford Greenburg, an ABC News legal correspondent. The clip, pun intended, of Greenburg on the firing range was part of a segment she narrated on today's Good Morning America on a case to be argued before the Supreme Court today. At issue is the District of Columbia's law banning handguns. The case comes before the Supreme Court after the U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C. invalidated the law. The decision could be a landmark, potentially the first time the Supreme Court rules squarely on the issue of whether the Second Amendment establishes an individual right to bear arms.
The segment was surprisingly respectful of the right to bear arms. Beyond Greenburg's personal marksmanship demonstration, the segment began with a sympathetic depiction of the plight of Shelly Parker, the DC resident who started the case by suing the city over its gun ban.
Noting Sen. Barack Obama's recent statement that he considers the Second Amendment an individual right -- setting aside for a moment his pro-gun control record and defense of the D.C. handgun ban -- ABC's Jan Crawford Greenburg dismissed private gun ownership as constitutionally protected, holding instead that the "orthodox" view defends only a state's right.
Here's the relevant portion from a February 15 entry at Greenburg's Legalities blog (emphasis mine):
The recent additions of Justices Jonathan Roberts and Samuel Alito have admittedly changed the balance of power in the Supreme Court. It was inevitable that the Court would take a conservative turn. Equally inevitable was the media's hysterical reaction.
A narrow decision on partial birth abortion was described as reversing the precedent of Roe vs. Wade. A school zoning decision was touted by irresponsible commentators as having overturned Brown v. Board of Education. These decisions, and others, have led to personal attacks upon Roberts and Alito, as well as public pleas from legal analysts to the Court's new swing vote Justice Kennedy to "moderate" his position.