While discussing the appointment of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court on MSNBC Monday, guest Eliot Spitzer made a startling observation: "Democratic presidents nominate very centrist justices to the Supreme Court. The Republican presidents over the past 10-15 years have nominated very extremely conservative justices and that’s why the court has eschewed to the right."[audio available here]
Spitzer, the former Governor of New York who resigned from office in 2008 amid a sex scandal with a prostitute, went on to lament the unwillingness of Democratic presidents to appoint more liberal justices: "And the role of the Democratic judges – justices – has been to play the middle... And that is, I think, at a larger ideological point, a discussion we should have, because Democratic presidents have been hesitant to put really liberal justices on the court."
MSNBC anchor Dylan Ratigan, who was premiering his new show "The Morning Meeting," did not challenge Spitzer’s absurd assertions, but rather turned to Washington Post editorial writer Jonathan Capehart and asked: "Yeah, Jonathan what do you think about that? That the Republicans have papered it with very conservative judges and that Democrats have tried to go more middle or slightly left of center, as opposed to way left judges?" Capehart agreed with Spitzer: "Well look, I respect everything my – Governor Spitzer says."
The discussion of Sotomayor’s nomination, in the 9AM ET hour, preceded a 10AM ET announcement of the Supreme Court’s ruling that overturned a decision by Sotomayor regarding racial discrimination toward white firefighters in Connecticut. Spitzer’s comments were prompted by fellow guest, Maria Teresa Kumar, founder of the Hispanic advocacy group Voto Latino, declaring: "In this particular case, what you have is that you have Ken Starr, a strict conservative – constructionist – actually saying ‘I actually endorse her, I believe in her.’ You have George Bush doing the same thing and you also have Laura Bush, so the fact that you have 56% of the Republicans – moderate Republicans – endorsing her, speaks volumes."
Spitzer’s appearance on MSNBC is only the latest attempt by NBC News to rehabilitate disgraced liberal figures. Last Thursday, NBC’s Today got reaction to the Mark Sanford sex scandal from former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey, who had resigned amid his own sex scandal involving another man. In addition, former CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather has recently become a regular analyst on MSNBC. Rather resigned after airing a story in 2004 about President Bush’s National Guard service that turned out to be based on fraudulent documents.