ABC, CBS Preemptively Boost Obama Court Pick as ‘Moderate’

Even before President Obama announced D.C. appeals court judge Merrick Garland would be his nominee for the Supreme Court on Wednesday, ABC’s Good Morning America and CBS This Morning both hailed Garland as a “moderate” leading contender for the nod.

On GMA, correspondent Terry Moran proclaimed: “The short list, the frontrunners down to three....Merrick Garland, 63 years old, older than most, he’s the chief judge of the appeals court here, long seen as a moderate.”

On This Morning, correspondent Jan Crawford gushed: “There’s Merrick Garland, he’s an experienced and respected federal judge....if the President nominates Garland, who is, I mean, no liberal firebrand, it would signal that he’s hoping for some kind of compromise. Garland is considered the best candidate that Republicans could hope for from a Democratic president.”

Despite professing Garland to be a centrist, National Review recently examined his record and detailed his staunch opposition to gun rights in multiple cases, clearly demonstrating his liberal ideological commitment.

A new Media Research Center study looked at the routine media double standard portraying court nominees from Republican presidents as too conservative while Democratic nominees have been repeatedly spun as moderate.

Both morning shows on Wednesday also touted a statement by Obama trying to shame the GOP. Moran noted: “President Obama sent an e-mail to his supporters saying he's doing his job and it's time for the Senate, right across the street here, to do theirs. There's little chance of that. This is about to become, like everything else, a partisan war.”

Before Crawford’s report, This Morning co-host Charlie Rose declared:

In a statement, the President says, quote, “...this American is not only eminently qualified to be a Supreme Court Justice, but deserves a fair hearing, and an up-or-down vote. In putting forward our nominee today, I am fulfilling my constitutional duty. I’m doing my job. I hope that our senators will do their jobs, and move quickly to consider my nominee.”

While NBC’s Today did not highlight the President’s short list, co-host Matt Lauer did promote the White House statement: “In a just released written statement, the President did not reveal his pick but said the choice is ‘eminently qualified.’ He also called it his ‘constitutional duty’ to fill the seat vacated by Scalia's death last month.”

Here are transcripts of the March 16 reports on GMA and This Morning:

GMA
7:01 AM ET

STEPHANOPOULOS: And it’s a big day in Washington as well. Breaking news right now, President Obama has just announced that he's made his choice for the Supreme Court. ABC's Terry Moran is at the Supreme Court with the latest. Good morning, Terry.

TERRY MORAN: Good morning, George. Well, let the battle begin, because that's what it's going to be. At 11:00 this morning in the Rose Garden, President Obama will reveal his choice to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, who's been the cornerstone of conservatism here. The short list, the frontrunners down to three. Sri Srinivasan, he’s considered the leading choice, born in India, raised in Kansas, a judge here on the appeals court. Merrick Garland, 63 years old, older than most, he’s the chief judge of the appeals court here, long seen as a moderate. And Paul Watford, a judge out in California, he’d be the court's third African-American.

In making this announcement, President Obama sent an e-mail to his supporters saying he's doing his job and it's time for the Senate, right across the street here, to do theirs. There's little chance of that. This is about to become, like everything else, a partisan war. George?

ROBIN ROBERTS: Got that right, Terry. And you'll be anchoring our special coverage.

STEPHANOPOULOS: 11 a.m.

ROBERTS: That’s right.


CBS This Morning
7:03 AM ET

CHARLIE ROSE: We begin with breaking news on the Supreme Court vacancy. President Obama just announced he has chosen a nominee to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia. In a statement, the President says, quote, “...this American is not only eminently qualified to be a Supreme Court Justice, but deserves a fair hearing, and an up-or-down vote. In putting forward our nominee today, I am fulfilling my constitutional duty. I’m doing my job. I hope that our senators will do their jobs, and move quickly to consider my nominee.”

NORAH O’DONNELL: Scalia's death last month left the court evenly divided along ideological lines. The President plans to reveal the nominee this morning from the White House Rose Garden. Jan Crawford is in Washington with who it might be. Jan, good morning.

JAN CRAWFORD: Well, good morning. So, I mean, during a month-long search, the President really focused on a few highly regarded federal appeals court judges. Leading contenders are both here on the D.C.-based federal appeals court. There’s Merrick Garland, he’s an experienced and respected federal judge. And Sri Srinivasan, who would be the first Asian-American and Hindu justice. The President also considered another federal appellate judge with sparkling credentials, and that’s California-based judge Paul Watford.

But even before this announcement today, the fight over the nomination already has begun. Republicans are united, they will not hold a hearing regardless of who Obama nominates, saying that in the middle of an election year the decision should be made by the next president. Now, if the President nominates Garland, who is, I mean, no liberal firebrand, it would signal that he’s hoping for some kind of compromise. Garland is considered the best candidate that Republicans could hope for from a Democratic president. Gayle?

GAYLE KING: Thank you very much, Jan.

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