Norah O'Donnell and Rachel Maddow can't seem to make up their minds. In the same segment, Maddow argues - and O'Donnell fails to question - that Judge Sonia Sotomayor was not picked as an affirmative-action nominee, and follows with the mystifying non-sequitur that opposing "the first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice" would be politically damaging for the Republican party.
O’Donnell was interviewing Rachel Maddow (normally exiled to the prime-time wing-nut section of MSNBC programming, Maddow instead made an appearance just after three PM on Tuesday), and immediately served up a steaming dish of Rush Limbaugh controversy. In keeping with the liberal myth of Republican racism, Maddow immediately pounced:
While NBC's Matt Lauer, Pete Williams and Chuck Todd all appropriately applied the liberal label to Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, on Tuesday's "Today" show, Lauer did try to sell the concept, advanced by the Washington Post, that Sotomayor wouldn't be "reflexively liberal."
MATT LAUER: Right, however in the Washington Post, back in May Pete, when writing about her judicial philosophy they said this, quote, "Sotomayor would probably be a reliably liberal vote on the Court, split into conservative and liberal blocks, on many issues, but her friends and colleagues and former clerks say, she would not be reflexively liberal or results oriented but would adhere to the law and the Constitution." We talking about a fine line there?
The following is a full transcript of the segment as it occurred on the May 26 edition of the "Today" show:
MATT LAUER: NBC News has learned that President Obama has tapped federal appeals court judge Sonia Sotomayor as his first nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court. We'll get more on this right now from NBC's chief justice correspondent Pete Williams. Pete, good morning, what can you tell me.
On Tuesday morning, President Obama announced his nominee to replace Justice David Souter on the Supreme Court -- U.S. Circuit Judge Sonia Sotomayor of New York State, who would be the first Hispanic to serve on the nation's highest court.
New York Times chief political reporter Adam Nagourney played the ethnicity card in a Tuesday afternoon post on the paper's "Caucus" blog, suggesting Republican opposition would be risky considering the party's low status among Hispanics.
President Obama's nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court has put the Republican Party in a bind, as it weighs the cost of aggressively opposing Mr. Obama's attempt to put the first Hispanic on the high court at a time when the party has struggled with sharp setbacks in its effort to appeal to Hispanic voters.
The Republican Party has been embroiled in a public argument over whether to tend to the ideological interests of its conservative base or to expand its appeal to a wider variety of voters in order to regain its strength following the defeats of 2008. Many conservatives came out fiercely against Ms. Sotomayor as soon her name was announced, denouncing her as liberal and promising Mr. Obama a tough nomination fight.
Moments after President Obama announced his pick of Judge Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court, CBS’s Bob Schieffer and Katie Couric enthused over what Couric called Sotomayor’s “very, very compelling life story,” with Schieffer cheering that she was “the political advisor’s dream candidate.”
“This woman has a life story that you couldn’t make up!” Schieffer exulted: “She’s born in the public projects, in the shadow of Yankee stadium, a single parent household, she goes to a Catholic school, she gets scholarships to the best schools in the country, Princeton and Yale, she overcomes all that while dealing with diabetes all her life, and she is Hispanic. This will be a historic pick.”
Couric immediately followed-up with her own salute: “Add to that, Bob, the fact that her father was a factory worker who died when she was nine years old, raised by a single mother who raised her brother to be a doctor and, obviously, her daughter to be an extremely accomplished lawyer and now judge. So it is a very, as you say, very, very compelling life story.”