Political bias in the Washington Post can crop up in the most unexpected places. Take today's list of "Washington Bestsellers" on the last page of the paper's Sunday Book World mini-section. This week, Amity Shlaes's Coolidge -- a new biography which explores the conservative 30th president's tax cuts and reduction in the size of the federal government -- ranked number 3 on the top 10 list of nonfiction/general hardcover titles, one notch below My Beloved World, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor's new autobiography.
The staffer charged with writing up the list snarked that the Coolidge tome was "100,000 words about a president who never said anything," while noting of Sotomayor's memoir, "The justice recounts her path from a Bronx housing project to the Supreme Court."
While Coolidge grew up in obscurity in a Vermont farming community and rose through the ranks of Republican politics in Massachusetts, his is an equally fascinating story for political and history junkies, so why the dismissive abstract, especially given that Shlaes's book is flying off the bookstore shelves?
To be fair, Coolidge was nicknamed "Silent Cal," so there is that, but Shlaes's bio is about uncovering the man and the statesman behind and perhaps obscured by his laconic and stoic Yankee exterior.
If the book remains on the top 10 next week, might I suggest this: "New look at 30th president's journey from Vermont farm to White House."
In part two of an interview with liberal Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Tuesday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie wondered: "Your mom fell in love again late in life....Do you ever wonder if that might happen for you?...Where do you take a Supreme Court justice on a date?"
In the first part of the exchange aired on Monday, Guthrie asked about the role of the Court, on Tuesday, it was all about promoting Sotomayor's memoir, My Beloved World. Guthrie asked about the Justice's childhood and narrated: "Here, from the church she once attended with her aunt, to the library where she voraciously gobbled up books, the future Supreme Court justice was cultivating a love of the law from two unlikely legal influences: Nancy Drew and Perry Mason."
Interviewing Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor about her new memoir on Monday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie worried that political division was undermining the high court: "Do you think that it's bad for the credibility of the Court as an institution if people have the perception that it is splitting along partisan or ideological lines?"
Sotomayor countered: "Yes. If I believed that that was the reason for the split, which I don't. The fact that there's a circuit split makes it clear that there are different ways of looking at the situation and that the answer is not a slam dunk." In response, Guthrie argued that "so-called liberals" take one side of a case, while the "conservative ideological bloc" takes the other.
An unbylined Associated Press story at 1:34 p.m. (saved here for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes) disgracefully covered a federal ruling which delivered a defeat (for now) against the enforcement of ObamaCare's contraception mandate.
Unlike the Hobby Lobby situation (covered earlier today at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), where the dispute is over certain portions of the contraception mandate requiring employers to cover abortifacient drugs and devices, the ruling in the case of Thomas Monaghan, the founder of Domino's Pizza who is now has a property management business, involves the entire contraception mandate. Monaghan nevertheless was able to get a temporary restraining order (TRO). The full five-paragraph AP report is after the jump (bolds are mine throughout this post):
Readers are advised to remove all food, fluids, and flammables from proximity to their computers before proceeding. You've been warned.
NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams on this weekend's syndicated Chris Matthews Show actually said that when it comes to nominating judges, "A Democratic president is more likely to appoint somebody near the middle who is less ideological" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
NPR's Nina Totenberg strangely cast doubt on the liberal credentials of Supreme Court Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor on Saturday's Early Show on CBS, claiming that "they're not nearly as liberal as justices were...thirty years ago." Totenberg also hinted that the other members of the Court were right-wing radicals: "Compared to the much more conservative members of the Court, they are liberal."
Anchor Russ Mitchell brought on the journalist for her take of the most recent term of the Supreme Court. Near the end of the interview, Mitchell noted how "this was the first full term for President Obama's two appointees, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor" and asked, "What do you think? Did we see a shift in the Court's philosophy this year at all?"
On Election Day, the Supreme Court heard arguments in the case Schwarzenegger vs. Entertainment Merchants Association. The irony of this case name was obvious: the celebrated violent-action-hero governor of California had signed a bill into law in 2005 forbidding the sale of ultraviolent video games to minors, a law that lower federal courts prevented from ever going into effect.
Why should the Supremes care about this? After all, a year before that, Gov. Schwarzenegger signed a law making it illegal for anyone under 14 years old to tan indoors under any circumstances. (Children from 14 to 18 can tan – with parental consent.) The fine for salon operators for each violation is as much as $2,500 per day. Somehow this did not become a cause celebre, and was not fought all the way to the Supreme Court. Indeed, 32 states are inhibiting the freedom of minors to tan, and no one cares.
But interfere with their right to fry their minds and there’s hell to pay. Video-game manufacturers don’t want politicians tampering with their sales to minors, so here comes the march of the First Amendment fundamentalists, who argue that the principle of freedom of speech covers the enthusiastic distribution and sale of every kind of child-corrupting media horror. For them there must be no helpful hurdle or brake for children to go around their parents and grab what Justice Samuel Alito called “the most violent, sadistic, graphic video game that can be developed.”
One wonders how Ed Whelan of the Ethics and Public Policy Center managed to get a hold of a private letter sent to President Obama by Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe advising him against nominating Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, but be that as it may, its contents are quite interesting and show just how nakedly political Tribe’s view of a justice really is and also how little he thinks of Sotomayor.
In the May 2009 letter (PDF link here), Tribe advises Obama to refrain from choosing Sotomayor because “she’s not nearly as smart as she seems to think she is” and also that she is a “bully” who would would be unable to try to persuade frequent SCOTUS swing vote Anthony Kennedy to a “pragmatically progressive direction,” something that Tribe believes former justice David Souter had managed to do on occasion.
Supreme Court Justice nominee Sonia Sotomayor came off as a 2nd Amendment defender when she was being questioned during her confirmation hearings. She voted the other way when a gun rights case came to The Court.Can we now trust Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan?
When President Bush nominated John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court in 2005, the media did not hesitate to describe both men as "very conservative," but when President Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor in 2009 and Elena Kagan this year many in the press couldn't seem to identify any liberal ideology. The Media Research Center has produced a video compilation of examples to further demonstrate the obvious double standard. [Audio available here]
During ABC's live special coverage of Roberts's nomination on July 19, 2005, then This Week host and former Democratic operative George Stephanopoulos declared: "This is a very conservative man with a strong paper trail that proves it." NPR's Nina Totenberg could hardly contain her urge to label, using the word "conservative" several times during a July 23 appearance on Inside Washington: "John Roberts is a really conservative guy...he's a conservative Catholic....[President Bush] has given conservatives a hardline conservative."
The same labeling followed Alito's nomination months later. CBS's Bob Schieffer opened the October 31 Evening News by proclaiming: “Conservatives wanted a conservative on the Supreme Court, and said the President ought to risk a fight in the Senate to get one. Their wishes have been fulfilled.” Later that evening, on a special 7PM ET hour edition of CNN's The Situation Room, anchor Wolf Blitzer described: "...there is a new nomination and new controversy. A battle shapes up as the president picks a staunch conservative who could help reshape the U.S. Supreme Court."
But the early stories on President Obama’s nomination of Elena Kagan routinely avoided describing her as a liberal. In six evening news stories and eight morning news segments since her official press conference on Monday morning, the broadcast networks have employed only one liberal label, on CBS. ABC and NBC offered none.
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.”
On the front of Sunday's Washington Post, Supreme Court reporter Robert Barnes unfurled the first liberal spin line of the battle over a new Supreme Court justice: that there's no way whoever Obama nominates will be more liberal than retiring John Paul Stevens. Barnes said "almost certainly" the court will be more conservative after Obama's second nominee is confirmed.
Can anyone imagine the media buying that spin for a second after, say, Chief Justice Rehnquist passed away? Oh, Bush can't possibly make the court more conservative. "Almost certainly," the court will be more liberal now.
Barnes completely accepted Justice Stevens laying down a marker for his half of the court, and made it the newspaper's own front-page spin:
Notice the euphemisms, from "challenges" to "abortion rights activists." But Slevin's account had a gaping hole in it: he never acknowledged the "pro-choice" victory in confirming leftist abortion promoter Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, not to mention abortion activists in the lower federal courts.
Instead, Slevin used the year-in-review piece to focus on the murder of late-term abortionist George Tiller. Slevin called him only "the nation's most prominent abortion doctor," not a specialist in the high-priced arena of "terminating" babies in the third trimester of pregnancy.
The Post is certainly not going to call his office an "abortion mill." Instead, it was "a long-standing refuge for women and a site of daily protests that often turned bitter."
CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin again turned to his usual labeling of the ideological split on the Supreme Court on Monday’s American Morning. Toobin labeled Justices Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Roberts “very conservative” three times, as opposed to the mere “liberal” justices on the Court. The analyst also bizarrely claimed that the “liberal side” of the body is “basically outnumbered.”
Toobin appeared during two segments at the ends of the 6 am and 8 am Eastern hours of the CNN program. Anchor John Roberts (who has the same name as the chief justice) interviewed the legal analyst both times, and he first asked about the influence of new Justice Sonia Sotomayor on the Court as it starts a new session. Toobin used his slanted labeling from right out of the gate: “You know, Justice Byron White was famous for saying, ‘When you change one member of the court, you don’t just change one member, you change the whole court’...This may be, though, a rare exception to that because her politics seem very similar to David Souter’s, so that the divisions on the court- four very conservative justices, four liberal justices- Anthony Kennedy in the middle- is probably not going to change that much.”
WOR radio's Steve Malzberg likely had no idea the hornets nest he was walking into Monday when he decided to discuss race relations with Fox News's Geraldo Rivera.
Regardless of the tension on display or the uncomfortable conclusion, what transpired perfectly demonstrated how far we as a nation are from ending racism.
At first, Rivera seemed rather reasonable when he called CNN's Rick Sanchez a jerk for his comment a few months ago that Hispanics working for Fox News are all sellouts.
But when the discussion turned to the confirmation of Justice Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, and whether her comments concerning a wise Latina woman making better decisions than a white man could be perceived as racist and sexist, Rivera got quite defensive and eventually hung up on his host (15-minute audio available here, rough transcript below the fold):
Reporting on Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation to the Supreme Court on Saturday’s CBS Evening News, correspondent Wyatt Andrews declared: "...she’s not always the reserved, work-aholic judge she portrayed in the Senate hearings....The judge is also known for her can't-miss Christmas parties, which included salsa dancing inside the federal court of appeals in Manhattan." [Audio/video (1:25): Mp3 | WMV]
Andrews offered a detailed report on Sotomayor’s down-to-earth personality as he spoke with her friends and colleagues: "...according to friends, like former law clerk Allison Barkoff, the Judge has a big, engaging, New York personality." Barkoff exclaimed: "She is fun. She – she works hard and she plays hard." No mention was made in the segment of Sotomayor’s infamous "wise Latina" comments.
As an example of how the newest member of the Supreme Court "plays hard" Andrews described: "Melissa Murray clerked for two federal judges, including Sotomayor, and when both judges came to Melissa’s wedding, Sotomayor challenged the other judge to a dance-off." After describing Sotomayor’s "can’t-miss" Christmas party, Andrews added: "Sotomayor knew and invited everyone in the courthouse." Barkoff explained: "The people who work in the cafeteria, the security guards, the custodians, are equally as important as her colleagues."
ABC’s "Nightline" on Thursday celebrated Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation to the Supreme Court as a "Jackie Robinson moment" and also highlighted cheering crowds at an event put on by the left-wing Puerto Rican Legal Defense Fund (PRLDF). Correspondent John Donvan failed to identify the liberal bent of the organization, which has vociferously lobbied for abortion rights, though he did note that Sotomayor served on the group’s board.
In addition to comparing Sotomayor’s confirmation to Jackie Robinson’s entry into baseball, Donvan actually brought on Democratic operative-turned-ABC journalist George Stephanopoulos to reference what it was like for Greek Americans when Michael Dukakis ran for President in 1988. Stephanopoulos enthused, "There was something that trumped the politics, the partisanship. I knew a lot of Republican Greeks who were supporting a Democrat for first time just because he was one of them."
Donvan described the Greek American Stephanopoulos as "somebody who should know" what it felt like. But he failed to specifically mention that the ABC host also worked for the Dukakis campaign at the time. Earlier in the piece, Donvan raved, "And while this is definitely a Latino thing, it is also, we should say, an American thing....Call it a Jackie Robinson moment, to borrow a lesson from sports."
NBC's Matt Lauer, on Wednesday's "Today" show, invited on conservative columnist and author Michelle Malkin to discuss several topics ranging from Henry Louis Gates Jr.'s arrest to Malkin's critique of Michelle Obama, but when the subject of only one Republican voting for Sonia Sotomayor in the Senate Judiciary committee came up, Lauer wondered if that would hurt the GOP with Hispanics as he queried: "After the, the last election it was said that the Republicans need to broaden the tent, they need to reach out to minorities. Reach out to Hispanics. Is that, are those six 'no' votes gonna hurt Republicans down the road?"
Lauer also expressed incredulity that Malkin dared to "take on," the First Lady as seen in the following exchange:
MATT LAUER: Let me ask you about your book. In it -- I mean clearly we know by the co-, we know by the title where it goes – you take on Michelle Obama-
MICHELLE MALKIN: I certainly do.
LAUER: -in this book. You call her the "First Crony."
The Sunday Week in Review cover story by New York Times Managing Editor Jill Abramson, "Women On The Verge Of The Law," dealt with the just-concluded confirmation hearings of Obama Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, and how things have changed and not changed since the 1991 Clarence Thomas hearings, which also featured the grilling of a minority woman, Anita Hill.
At least that's Abramson's strange take on the hearings: linking Judge Sotomayor with Hill, the law professor and former Thomas employee who accused Thomas of sexual harassment at the hearings that riveted the nation. The story's subhead: "After Anita Hill, a few things in Congress changed. Not all."
Abramson's thrust is that the all-white male Senate Judiciary Committee mistreated Hill and failed to take her anti-Thomas accusations seriously. That should surprise no one, given Abramson's "Strange" history: She is coauthor, with liberal reporter Jane Meyer, of the 1994 book on the hearings, "Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas," written when Abramson and Meyer were reporters for the Wall Street Journal.
The serially dishonest Frank Rich, a New York Times columnist, wouldn't know an example of racism if it sat on his head.
In his latest column he haughtily bloviates in an attempt to turn the tables on Republican senators by accusing those who grilled Judge Sonia Sotomayor during her Supreme Court confirmation proceeding last week of being the real racists.
Yet the Sotomayor show was still rich in historical significance. Someday we may regard it as we do those final, frozen tableaus of Pompeii. It offered a vivid snapshot of what Washington looked like when clueless ancien-régime conservatives were feebly clinging to their last levers of power, blissfully oblivious to the new America that was crashing down on their heads and reducing their antics to a sideshow as ridiculous as it was obsolescent. [...]
One of the sad byproducts of journalism's decline is that you rarely see a great debate on television anymore between a liberal and a conservative without it devolving into a lot of yelling, name calling, and folks talking over each other.
On Thursday night, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow invited Pat Buchanan on to talk about the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court.
What ensued was a surprisingly civil and respectful ten minute discussion that should give viewers faith that it is still possible for folks on opposite sides of the political spectrum to converse like adults about controversial subjects (video embedded below the fold with transcript, file photo):
In today's "She Really Didn't Say That, Did She?" segment, a contributing editor to Washington Post magazine claimed that if Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor were being really honest with America, "[S]he probably would want to say,'Not only do I mean a wise Latina, I meant any Latina could make a better decision than a white man could.'"
For those unfamiliar, besides being contributing editor of the Post mag, Cathy Areu publishes Catalina which she created to portray a positive image of Hispanic women in the media and entertainment industry.
With that in mind, appearing on CNN's "Campbell Brown" Wednesday, Areu made statements that if made by a white person would certainly be deemed racist (video embedded below the fold with partial transcript, h/t NBer dronetek):
[Update, 10:36 pm Eastern: audio and video links added below.]
CNN anchor Rick Sanchez devoted an entire segment on Thursday’s Newsroom program to his interviews of five “wise Latina” women from his hometown of Miami, including his own mother, about the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. Though Sanchez did point out how many Americans disagreed with the nominee’s decision in the New Haven firefighters case, all of the women supported Sotomayor [audio clips from the segment are available here; the video clips are available at this link].
The anchor traveled to Miami, in his words, going “out of the D.C. Beltway and find some other Latina women with a smart take on one of their own.” He conducted the interviews around the dinner table in his mother’s house, or, in his mother’s case, in the adjourning kitchen. Sanchez gave a preview of the segment on the Wednesday edition of Newsroom while on location in the south Florida metropolis. Both days, the CNN anchor featured the clip from his interview of his mother, who, through her son’s translation (she’s originally from Cuba), voiced her support for the Supreme Court nominee and her identification with her. Also on both days, Sanchez made light of the now-infamous “wise Latina” label that Sotomayor had used in the past, and is now being scrutinized over.
In his Wednesday afternoon "Caucus" post on nytimes.com, "Conservative Ad Accuses Sotomayor of Supporting Terrorists," Times legal reporter Charlie Savage used a new anti-Sotomayor ad from the Committee for Justice to smear the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign against Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004.
Taking advantage of the fact that the new ad was written by someone also involved in the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign in 2004, Savage applied the same "unsubstantiated charges" template the Times used to attack the Swift Boat Veterans but went even further, all but calling the group's charges "lies."
During CNN’s coverage of the Sotomayor hearings on Wednesday, legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin implied that the Supreme Court’s 2008 decision to uphold the Second Amendment was revolutionary: “When I was in law school...the idea that you had a Second Amendment right to a gun was considered preposterous....But the Supreme Court [in Heller]...said that...individuals have a personal right to bear arms.”
Just after the bottom of the 12 noon hour of the network’s coverage, anchor Wolf Blitzer raised the Second Amendment issue with Toobin, a graduate of Harvard Law School, and the others on their panel analyzing the hearings, which included anchor/correspondent John King; senior political analyst Gloria Borger; and correspondent Candy Crowley, as well as Republican strategist Alex Castellanos and former Clinton administration official Maria Echaveste. After playing a clip of Republican Senator Tom Coburn asking Sotomayor about the right to keep and bear arms, Blitzer asked Toobin what were the nominee’s “positions, specifically on the federal obligation to support the Second Amendment, as opposed to local communities or states?”
The CNN senior legal analyst harkened back to his law school days in his answer, and possibly revealed a bit of his formation as a liberal:
With the start of Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s Supreme Court nomination confirmation hearings the topic of abortion naturally arises – not only because it one of our most polarizing legal and social issues, but also because Sotamayor claims to be Catholic, a religion that adamantly and explicitly teaches the evil of abortion.
And while her Catholicism scares some liberals, others are using it as a selling point, and in doing so desecrating a holy image of the Virgin Mary. Felix Sanchez, the CEO of D.C. government and public relations firm TerraCom and chairman of the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts, has updated his Twitter page with a background of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Over Our Lady’s face, the likeness of Sotomayor has been superimposed (shown at right).
The patron saint of all the Americas, Our Lady of Guadalupe has a special place in the hearts of Hispanic Catholics, especially Mexicans (which Sotomayor is not). But Sanchez seemed to use the image to appeal to all Hispanics and to promote his plea to “Confirm Sonia Maria Sotomayor,” as his Twitter page says.
Two months ago, as President Obama was contemplating a replacement for retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter, many in the media elite — particularly NBC News reporters and anchors — sycophantically touted Obama’s credentials as a constitutional law professor as evidence of his deep experience when it came to the judiciary.
Yesterday, however, Obama’s pick for the Court, Judge Sonia Sotomayor, explicitly repudiated Obama’s belief that judging should be based on “empathy” or “the heart.” Sotomayor told senators: “I don’t, wouldn’t, approach the issue of judging in the way the President does.”
None of the broadcast networks juxtaposed Sotomayor’s slap at Obama with the President’s supposed brilliance as a constitutional scholar, or explored whether it was credible that Obama’s nominee really disagrees on the role of empathy, what the President previously declared the “essential ingredient” of a good judge.