Whomever Barack Obama selects to fill the vacancy left by the death of Antonin Scalia expect the liberal media to worry the selection isn’t progressive enough. As might be expected, journalists criticize the Supreme Court appointments made by Republican presidents as “hardline” and “very conservative.” But even the nominees elevated by recent Democratic presidents have been challenged as not liberal enough for the media’s taste.
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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):
The Washington Post puffed up the rookie performance of liberal Supreme Court justice Elena Kagan on the front page Monday. The headline was “Kagan made her mark in a bold rookie term.” But inside the paper was the more obvious conclusion, in the headline: “Kagan soothed liberal fears by shoring up the court’s left flank.”
Reporter Robert Barnes is one of many liberal reporters who like pretending that Kagan was somehow an ideological mystery during the confirmation process, despite being picked to be Barack Obama’s solicitor general before the high court.
NPR's Nina Totenberg spent more than 4 minutes on Wednesday's Morning Edition to supposed ethical conflicts of interest for conservative Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Antonin Scalia. By contrast, Totenberg devoted only 17 seconds to the more current issue of liberal Justice Elena Kagan's service in the Obama administration as a factor in upcoming cases before the Court.
Host Renee Montagne introduced the correspondent's report by noting how both "liberal groups have chastised conservative justices for attending private conferences put on by conservative political interests, and conservative groups have responded by leveling some criticism in the other direction." However, the journalist devoted the first three minutes of a seven-and-a-half minute segment on the criticism launched at Clarence Thomas's wife from the left:
New York Times liberal Supreme Court reporter turned liberal online Times columnist Linda Greenhouse filed her "scorecard" Wednesday of the Supreme Court’s recently concluded term. Even her terminology is slanted, translating conservative as "regressive" and liberal as "progressive."
Most regressive decision: In a competitive category, I’ll give the nod to a little-noticed decision the court issued just a week ago. By a vote of 5 to 4, with an unsigned opinion speaking for the majority, the court denied a temporary stay of execution to a Texas death-row inmate despite the urgent pleas of the federal government and the government of Mexico.
The House Judiciary Committee is launching an investigation to probe the involvement that Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan had in “health care legislation or litigation” when she was serving as President Barack Obama’s solicitor general and was responsible for defending the administration’s position in federal court cases.
The investigation will look at whether Kagan is required by law to recuse herself from judging cases challenging President Obama’s health-care law and whether her answers to questions posed by the Senate Judiciary Committee during her confirmation process were accurate.
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?"
As scornful as the media were of conservatives last year, they were just as adoring of top liberals, as documented by the MRC's Best Notable Quotables of 2010. Topping the MRC's annual "Media Hero Award," ABC's World News anchor Diane Sawyer fawned over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after the passage of ObamaCare in March:
“All agree she gets credit for locking up this vote, one of the biggest since Medicare in the 1960s. And she’s said to have done it with an epic blend of persuasion, muscle and will, even when half the town said it couldn’t be done....Their indefatigable, unwavering almost 70-year-old Speaker, mother of five, grandmother of seven....[to Pelosi] What do you think your dad and your mom would have said about this moment?”
“On this first Monday in October, the Supreme Court opened its new term today,” an excited Diane Sawyer announced Monday night, trumpeting how it's “making history for America's mothers, sisters and daughters.” ABC reporter Terry Moran was even more thrilled, marveling that “the most remarkable thing in that courtroom today, on this historic day, was how unremarkable it was.”
Despite the lack anything “remarkable,” however, Moran found new Justice Elena Kagan's performance quite remarkable, trumpeting “the one word that leapt to my mind was 'ready,'” touting how “she was confident and well prepared and fluent and probing” and, at one moment, “you could almost...imagine some of the other justices...looking down the bench at Justice Kagan like a major league scout might say, 'you know, that kid's got some real pop on her fastball.'”
An eager Sawyer wondered: “How was Justice Kagan on her first day?” A giddy Moran expounded:
Times Watch's new study "Supremely Slanted -- How the New York Times Pounds Conservatives and Coddles Liberals When Nominated for the Supreme Court," was discussed by Fox News contributor Liz Trotta on "America's News Headquarters" just before the one o'clock hour on Saturday afternoon.
After some discussion of a Gallup poll showing Americans have little trust in the mainstream media, host Uma Pemmaraju shifted the discussion to the new Supreme Court study from Times Watch. (Watch the video here.)
Fox News Host Uma Pemmaraju: "But there's another poll, out right now that looks at media behavior as well and specifically how the media handles the Supreme Court nominees, how are those related?"
As liberal Justice Elena Kagan takes her place on the Supreme Court next week, she could thank The New York Times for making her confirmation process smoother. Ever since Ronald Reagan nominated Robert Bork and he was rejected by the Senate in 1987 for his views and not his character or qualifications, confirmation battles for liberals have become less like judicial seminars and more like political campaigns.
For almost 20 years, in this new era of activist groups and activist reporters, The New York Times has covered Supreme Court fights with a heavy finger on the scales of justice, tipping the balance. They have painted conservatives as highly controversial and dangerously ideological, while liberal nominees were presented as "brilliant" moderates who were only newsworthy in that they were often laudably "historic" choices, or, in Kagan's case, she was not only "brilliant," but "very funny, warm and witty."
For Supremely Slanted, Times Watch analyzed the arc of coverage over the last two decades and the last seven Supreme Court justices, from Clarence Thomas's nomination in 1991 to Elena Kagan's confirmation in 2010, and found stark differences in how the Times reported on the four Justices nominated by Democrats versus the three nominated by Republicans.
Times Watch examined every substantive New York Times news story on each nomination, starting with the official presidential announcement and ending with the Senate vote confirming the nominee to the Supreme Court. Among the findings:
A stark pro-Democratic double standard in labeling:
- The Times demonstrated a 10-1 disparity in labeling "conservative" justices nominated by Republicans compared to "liberal" ones nominated by Democrats.
- In all, the three Republican-nominated justices were labeled "conservative" 105 times, while the four justices nominated by Democrats were labeled liberal on just 14 occasions.
Crazies on the left allow journalists to see themselves as under siege from both sides of the spectrum, and thus must be playing it down the middle. To wit: Saturday’s Washington Post carried a letter from a reader upset the newspaper had reported the Supreme Court has “four firm liberals.”
Robert B. McNeil Jr., of Alexandria, insisted “there hasn't been even a single ‘liberal’ on the court in years.” He recommended:
The Post should recognize philosophical reality and refer to the “moderate” and “conservative” wings of the court, although “moderate” and “radical-conservative” would be more accurate.