WARNING: Viewing the accompanying video could cause a dangerous rise in blood-sugar levels.
When Clarence Thomas was approaching his confirmation hearings, we all remember the touching, sentimental segments the networks ran on his challenging childhood. Or not.
On today's GMA, ABC's Claire Shipman took a sentimental stroll down memory lane with Dr. Juan Sotomayor, Sonia's likable younger brother. At one point, viewing a display about his sister in their old high school in the Bronx, Juan gets choked up. And there's Claire, shown not once but twice reaching out a comforting arm to console the Sotomayor sibling.
On Sunday’s This Week roundtable, ABC national correspondent Claire Shipman tried to argue that it would be “very hard” for Republicans to label Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor a liberal. “When you look at Sotomayor's record and look at the cases, it's very hard for people to make the case that she's a typical, you know, elite liberal judicial philosopher,” Shipman declared.
That was too much even for liberal columnist Cynthia Tucker, who is currently the editorial page editor of the Atlantic Journal-Constitution but will this summer move to Washington as the paper’s D.C.-based political columnist. “She is certainly liberal, she’s called herself liberal,” Tucker informed Shipman, but agreed that Sotomayor is “nobody’s knee-jerk radical.”
The article, written by Peter Baker and Jo Becker, does mention in passing the fact that she has used the quote on multiple occasions, but it did so in the manner of emphasizing her “focus on diversity and struggle.”
Cokie Roberts appeared on Friday's "Good Morning America" and agreed with Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor's 1994 comment that a wise woman would come to a better conclusion than a man. Roberts, cheered, "Of course, I would agree with her that they're better." Fellow ABC journalist Sam Donaldson empathized that if the judge made a mistake, "it was a Joe Biden problem. She blurted out the truth." [Audio available here]
Throughout two segments on the program, various reporters and guests justified Sotomayor's comments. Roberts attempted to explain away the comments, which are in addition to the now famous 2001 "wise Latina" quote. She sympathized to co-host Diane Sawyer, "You go before these big women's groups. And, Diane, I'm sure you've done it. I've certainly done it many times." With no hint of controversy, Roberts added, "And you do say things that kind of rev up the crowd and get women excited. And one of those things that you do say is that women are better than men."
CNN’s Soledad O’Brien went so far to use the role of food in “ethnic identity” to support Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor during Thursday’s “Newsroom” program. When she was asked about Sotomayor’s now-infamous “wise Latina” remark from 2001, O’Brien bizarrely cited a more culinary part of the nominee’s speech where she talked about “pig’s feet and the other special dishes particular, not just to Puerto Ricans, but many Latino families.”
Anchor Heidi Collins first read Sotomayor’s “wise Latina” remark in 2001 to set up O’Brien’s sympathetic and unusual take on the nominee: “Soledad, some people would say the context is not complete with that comment, and because of that, as usual, when you don’t have context, something might be lost?” The CNN special correspondent wholeheartedly agreed and replied that people should read the entire 2001 speech. She continued with her first emphasis on Sotomayor’s ethnic identity: “Puerto Ricans are Americans. She is not an immigrant to this country. What formed her identity, she says, are the shared traditions. And here’s a little bit of what she says about the food. She says, ‘For me, a very special part of being Latina is the mucho platos de arroz, gandoles y pernir- rice, beans and pork- that I have eaten at countless family holidays and special events.’ This is during her speech- she says in the speech back in 2001. She goes on to talk about the pig’s feet and the other special dishes particular, not just to Puerto Ricans, but many Latino families.”
Given the small amount of attention yesterday's revelation that Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor made extremely similar derogatory comments about men back in 1994 as she did in 2001, the answer appears to be "No."
As most readers are aware, Sotomayor uttered the following roughly eight years ago during a lecture at Boalt Hall, the University of California, Berkeley's, law school:
In the run-up to Obama’s election, journalists were promoting him as a “post-racial” candidate. Now with the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor for Supreme Court we know that both the media and the candidate were lying to us.
As USA Today columnist DeWayne Wickham wrote on May 5, 2009, “For many people in the USA, Obama's election ushered in a post-racial era that was expected to push race to the back burner of our national consciousness.” But his presidency isn’t “post-racial.” It’s not just the obvious identity politics where craven political calculations are used to pick candidates of appropriate age/race/gender/class/shoe size. It has to do with Obama’s stance on using racism to correct racism.
That position was evident in Obama’s deliberate choice of Sotomayor who figured prominently in a major case of racial injustice. The case in question – Ricci v. DeStefano – involves 18 New Haven, Connecticut, firefighters who sued because they were blatantly discriminated against because of their race. The 17 white and one Hispanic firefighters took the lieutenant’s and captain’s exams and, when they did well and black firefighters did not, the city canceled the results. On appeal, our likely next Supreme Court “justice” ruled against the men even though the evidence was stacked on their side.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) admitted Tuesday that he "[hasn't] read a single one" of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor's opinions despite praising her as "the whole package."
Not surprisingly, the Obama loving media gleefully reported the latter while almost completely ignoring the former.
What a shock, huh?
Here's how Reid on Tuesday responded to the questions: "Is there anything in Judge Sotomayor's record that you think gives you trouble or that could make -- could cause her trouble? For instance, she, in January, ruled that the Second Amendment doesn't apply to the states. Is that something that you agree with, that you could see that -- or that you don't agree with and may be able to give her trouble?" (video and partial transcript embedded below the fold):
Keith Olbermann’s Fox News-hating frenzy on Monday night might have obscured the nasty accusations against pro-lifers Olbermann drew out of Richard Wolffe, who recently left his job as a political reporter at Newsweek to be a full-time MSNBC pundit.
Wolffe said Tiller’s killing had a "direct link" to people yelling "Kill him" at McCain-Palin rallies and insisted pro-lifers need to look themselves hard in the mirror and ask themselves "Have I played a part" in Tiller’s death by charging that Tiller "committed horrendous acts"?
Wolffe also insisted Republicans were hypocrites for objecting to "Muslim terrorism" while encouraging terrorism against abortion doctors, since that's a natural "result" of abortion protests:
OLBERMANN: The homeland security secretary, Ms. Napolitano, bowed to Republican outrage in April, apologizing for that DHS assessment that warned of violent acts by right-wing extremists - are the Republicans in Congress still of the belief that the threat of right-wing extremist violence is some sort of fantasy out of the Obama administration?
Last Wednesday, Keith Olbermann falsely compared statements Samuel Alito made during his 2006 Supreme Court confirmation hearings to the now controversial and seemingly racist remark Sonia Sotomayor uttered during a 2001 speech.
In her lecture to the Boalt School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, Barack Obama's nominee to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter said, "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."
By contrast, Alito in 2006 talked about his background indeed impacting his decisions, but never said that would make him "more often than not reach a better conclusion than" women of a different race.
Olbermann, as he so often does with his agenda-driven drivel, missed this obvious distinction (video embedded below the fold with partial transcript):
Thursday night, as my colleague Brent Baker noted, ABC and NBC fretted that Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor might not adhere to a strict liberal orthodoxy on abortion. NBC reporter Pete Williams said Sotomayor’s views on abortion were a “mystery,” while ABC’s Jan Crawford Greenburg declared “both sides in the contentious debate want to know more.”
On Wednesday’s CBS Evening News, correspondent Wyatt Andrews sounded the same alarm: “Pro-abortion rights groups worried aloud today that the President — who promised an abortion rights nominee — never asked Sotomayor, who is Catholic, where she stands.”
On Thursday’s Today, co-host Matt Lauer opened the show by demanding to know “Where does she stand? Liberal activists voicing concerns over Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor and her stance on abortion. This morning, they’re demanding to know if she’s pro-choice or pro-life — and why President Obama never asked.”
But this isn’t the first time the networks have channeled the worries of liberal pro-abortion groups about a Democratic President’s Supreme Court nominee.
Back in the 2006 nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court , Barack Obama criticized the philosphy on confirming Supreme Court Justices stating the Senate should "only examine whether or not the Justice is intellectually capable and is nice to his wife." He further objected that, "once you get beyond intellect and personal character there shouldn't be further question to whether the justice should be confirmed. Meaningful advice and consent includes an examination of a judge's philosophy, ideology, and record."
Today’s (Friday’s) Washington Times picks up on a recent report from the Media Research Center (you can read it here) documenting the outpouring of positive coverage for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. The piece, by reporter Jennifer Harper, quotes NewsBusters senior editor Rich Noyes, but also included a quote from Democratic operative Dan Gerstein claiming, “If President Bush had appointed someone with the same background — working class, an up-by-the-bootstraps story — the coverage would have been exactly the same.”
As TimesWatch editor Clay Waters pointed out yesterday, the press had a far more cynical reaction to the “up-by-the-bootstraps” story of Clarence Thomas, elevated to the Supreme Court by the first President Bush back in 1991.
During a segment on Friday’s “American Morning,” CNN correspondent Carol Costello used two liberal talking heads to cast doubt on the “judicial activist” label used by conservatives. Costello used three sound bites from Jonathan Turley of George Washington University Law School, who branded the use of the term as “perfectly juvenile,” and one from NPR’s Nina Totenberg to cast aspersions on conservatives who are concerned about judges legislating from the bench.
Costello’s report, which began 20 minutes into the 6 am Eastern hour of the CNN program, began by labeling the “judicial activist” term itself an “act” by politicians: “We hear politicians say it all the time, ‘we don't need an activist judge legislating from the bench.’ But what exactly does that mean? Critics roll their eyes when they hear, ‘we don't want an activist judge on the bench,’ when, in reality, that’s exactly what they want. I’m just saying, if that’s true, why not drop the act and tell voters what you really mean?” She further explained that it was a “buzzword that’s got staying power.”
Thursday's "Political Points" podcast at nytimes.com featured New York Times reporters David Kirkpatrick, Adam Liptak, and Jodi Kantor talking about the Sonia Sotomayor nomination and displaying various liberal tics.
Kirkpatrick accused Newt Gingrich of "ad hominem attacks" against Sotomayor, while Kantor pondered the Republican dilemma: of possibly seeing "this bank of white male senators grill in a possibly antagonistic way the first Latina woman nominated to serve on this bench." Plus: Sotomayor will "not only speak to the cafeteria workers but she'll speak to them in Spanish."
An excerpt from about seven minutes into the podcast:
David Kirkpatrick: "There's a debate going on within the Republican Party right now over how to play this. There are some, including I think former speaker Newt Gingrich, who think it's appropriate at this time to begin ad hominem attacks, calling her a racist, attacking her sensibility, calling her manifestly unqualified. And there's another school of thought that says, We're gonna lose. They've got the numbers. We might as well have a high-minded debate about how we would approach the law versus how they would approach the law, rather than get dragged down into the mud.'"
Host Sam Roberts: "And also doesn't the Republican Party risk, among other things, alienating Hispanic voters whom they've been trying to hard to woo?"
Margery Eagan of the Boston Herald has done it again. She's unleashed her deathless prose filled with soaring rhetoric and high concepts all revealing her infinite sagacity. OK, that was just sarcasm. In truth, Eagan has given us another example of the sort of low-end, guttural, sputterings that we have become so used to seeing drip like sour milk from her pen. Her latest Boston Herald piece is a prime example of the unprofessionalism that pervades her work.
In a posting titled "Men in throes of Supreme panic," Eagan gets into her best name calling mode against all those eeeevil "white men" out there that might find reason to oppose President Obama's nomination of Sonia Sotomayor, a woman well known for positing that female Hispanics are inherently better judges than white men -- a sentiment that if reversed would be considered a racist statement.
You'd expect to see this in the liberal blogosphere or possibly some of the national mainstream media outlets with an obvious agenda. But now some of the preemptive strikes against Republican senators leading up to the Senate confirmation hearings and eventual vote to confirm President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor, are finding their way into local newspapers.
An op-ed published in The Anniston (Ala.) Star on May 28 by Ari Rabin-Havt, the managing director of the left-wing Media Matters Action Network, attacked the new ranking Republican of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. He alleged that if Sessions and other Senate Republicans didn't commit to taking a filibuster off the table for Sotomayor's confirmation, they would be guilty of hypocrisy.
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."
Ann Coulter and James Carville went head-to-head on Good Morning America this morning. Incredibly, James Carville survived.
At least, it sounds incredible until you read the transcript. A total of nine questions were asked of the two pundits, seven of which went to Coulter. Carville, on the other hand, was simply allowed to respond to Coulter without questioning - an unfiltered rebuttal, with free airtime provided by ABC.
This, however, was not the most egregious point of controversy. Carville was allowed, with no challenge from the host, to provide ad-hominem attacks against conservatives – as well as irrelevant, non-sequitur praise for Judge Sonia Sotomayor. The transcript speaks for itself:
After playing a clip of Rush Limbaugh charging Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor with bigotry and racism, Chris Matthews, on Wednesday's "Hardball," implied Limbaugh was the racist as he asked a guest panelist Jeanne Cummings of the Politico, "Is this the pot calling the kettle black?" To which Cummings responded that the radio talk show host was going to "chase," all the Hispanics away from the GOP:
Well all I know is it's the worst nightmare for the Republicans, I mean they're trying to calculate whether they should vote against her, how aggressively they should try to sort through her record and challenge her during hearings. And with things like that, and all that calculation to try to keep Hispanic support, even as small as it's gotten for Republicans. Rush Limbaugh can chase ‘em all away in an afternoon with that kind of talk." [audio available here]
The following is the full segment as it was aired on the May 27 edition of "Hardball":
The Washington Post front page for May 27, 2009 announces the Sonia Sotomayor nomination to the Supreme Court with this large headline: "First Latina Picked for Supreme Court; GOP Faces Delicate Task in Opposition." There’s no reference to Sotomayor being a liberal.
Below that is a story on her ethnic identity headlined "Heritage Shapes Judge’s Perspective." Reporters Amy Goldstein and Jerry Markon notice three paragraphs in that she spoke at a conference "bluntly rejecting the argument of conservative legal thinkers that judges should decide cases purely on close readings of facts and law, excluding their own frames of reference." How did previous Supreme Court nominations do in labeling the ideology of nominees? Unsurprisingly the Post highlighted the conservatism of recent Republican nominees, but placed Democratic nominees in the middle.
Here’s a list of Washington Post front-page headlines on the first day after the official nomination that hinted at an ideology:
Samuel Alito (November 1, 2005)
"Alito Nomination Sets Stage for Ideological Battle; Bush's Court Pick Is Appeals Judge With Record of Conservative Rulings"
During the 3:00PM EST hour on MSNBC on Wednesday, political analyst Pat Buchanan wondered why President Obama’s short list for the Supreme Court only included women, in response, anchor Norah O’Donnell declared: "Did it ever occur to you, Pat, that maybe there weren’t any white men who were qualified?" (video here)
Buchanan replied: "No, it did not occur to me...You mean there are no white males qualified? That is – that would be an act of bigotry to make a statement like that." O’Donnell defended her remark by claiming past discrimination against women in the nominating process: "In the past there have been no women that have been qualified." Buchanan argued: "They certainly have been qualified in the past. I don’t doubt there are. But probably half of the great lawyers and judges are white males in this country. And to rule them out, why? Because of their sex and because of their race is wrong, I think. At least it’s affirmative action."
O’Donnell rejected Buchanan’s claim: "I don’t think you have proof that they did that." Buchanan asked: "How did he come down to four women?" O’Donnell simply repeated White House talking points: "He said that they were the best and that met the views that he had, the particular criteria." Buchanan summed up that "criteria": "One of them, it’s got to be a woman, and the other it got down to be, ‘hey, it’s an Hispanic,’ that’s affirmative action."
According to a posting at MediaBistro's TVNewser, FNC's Geraldo Rivera admitted to being so excited about Judge Sonia Sotomayor's selection for the Supreme Court that he got "goosebumps" when he heard the news and bumped his head on a light fixture when he sprang from his chair in excitement. TVNewser's Gail Shister writes: "The Fox News host was so excited about the high court's first Hispanic nominee that he leapt from his chair in his home office and bopped his head on a low-hanging light fixture."
She went on to quote Rivera: "This is as important to us as Obama was to the African-American community. I have goosebumps."
On Tuesday night, PBS’s NewsHour discussed the Sotomayor nomination with a panel including Jenny Rivera, a former Sotomayor clerk and head of the Center on Latino and Latina Equal Rights. You could hear the latest buzz words on diversity being used. The addition of Latina diversity brings a certain "integrity" to the Supreme Court, which suffers from an "insularity," from being encased in a bubble:
GWEN IFILL, anchor: Jenny Rivera, how much is there -- is there a just concern about identity politics beginning to define the day for picks like this? Here we have another first.
RIVERA: Well, I think the president didn't make a choice based on identity politics. He made the choice based on the merits of her intellectual capabilities, on the experience that she brought to the court.
And you heard David Axelrod say, you know, the fact that she happens to also be Latina and be a woman, it's wonderful that we can bring that to the court. But this was a choice based on the strength of her background, her experience, and her intellect. And, certainly, that's important.
Baker and Zeleny never directly acknowledged Sotomayor's liberal outlook, although there is enough in her judicial record (and her own words) to indicate her ideology.
President Obama announced Tuesday that he would nominate Sonia Sotomayor, a federal appeals judge in New York, to the Supreme Court, choosing a daughter of Puerto Rican parents who was raised in a Bronx public housing project to become the nation's first Hispanic justice.
In making his first pick for the court, Mr. Obama emphasized Judge Sotomayor's "extraordinary journey" from modest beginnings to the Ivy League and now the pinnacle of the judicial system. Casting her as the embodiment of the American dream, he touched off a confirmation battle that he hopes to wage over biography more than ideology.
Judge Sotomayor's past comments about how her sex and ethnicity shaped her decisions, and the role of appeals courts in making policy, generated instant conservative complaints that she is a judicial activist. Senate Republicans vowed to scrutinize her record. But with Democrats in reach of the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster, the White House appeared eager to dare Republicans to stand against a history-making nomination at a time when both parties are courting the growing Hispanic vote.
Again, the Times hinted at but didn't directly label Sotomayor with the still-damaging label of "liberal," never using the term to describe her.
NBC's Matt Lauer, on Wednesday's "Today" show greeted viewers with the following teaser: "Good morning, Supreme showdown. Republicans gear up for a fight over President Obama's nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the nation's highest court," and then asked the racially loaded question: "But will taking on the first Hispanic nominee cost them down the road?" Lauer and other "Today" correspondents repeatedly questioned if Republican opposition to Sotomayor would cost them Hispanic votes in upcoming elections. However no one on "Today" mentioned it was Democrats, back in 2003, as the MRC's Tim Graham pointed out, who opposed the nomination, by Republican President George W. Bush of Miguel Estrada at the circuit court level.
On Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez was unusually tough on Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor as she asked the judge’s former clerk, Julia Tarver Mason, about some of Sotomayor's past controversial comments: "...she, herself, has rejected the notion that a judge should decide cases based solely on facts and the law...referring to one case – she hopes that ‘a wise Latina woman would reach a better conclusion than a white male.’What do you say to critics who say if a white conservative male had said that, he would have been booted out of the judiciary?"
Mason defended her former boss: "Well, I think that comment has been grossly misconstrued, frankly, it was a comment she made in a speech a decade ago, talking about the importance diversity on the court... when she decides a case, she decides it based on the law, as that's appropriate." Earlier Mason had argued that Sotomayor was "legal purist" and "...not someone who is going to try to reach a particular result in a particular case. She calls them straight down the middle, just like she sees them."
Rodriguez later followed up with a question about one of Sotomayor’s most controversial decisions: "Some of her critics are also bringing up a case where she sided against some white firefighters who claimed reverse discrimination in hiring practices...Rush Limbaugh has called her a ‘reverse racist.’ Could that be true?" Mason denounced Limbaugh: "That's an absurd notion. If – Judge Sotomayor is one of the most egalitarian people I’ve ever met...the fact that people from the right are throwing these outrageous allegations right now is just an indication that they don't know much about her record...it was not in any way a radical decision by her. And it was supported by the city of New Haven itself. So if you call her racist, you have to call the entire city of New Haven racist."
Until yesterday, liberal law professor Jonathan Turley was generally hailed by the leftwing blogosphere for speaking "truth to power." However, now that same group is attacking Turley for speaking truth to MSNBC. Chris Matthews probably thought Turley would support Sonia Sotomayor's nomination right after it was announced. If so, he was in for a big surprise as you can see in this video clip. The same video also shows Turley making the same critique with David Shuster...and taking a swipe at justice Thurgood Marshall as well. First Turley blindsides Matthews with his completely unexpected criticism of Sotomayor: