On Wednesday, CNN quickly ran to label President Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, as a "moderate" and a "consensus candidate." Less than 15 minutes before the President made his formal announcement, Jake Tapper contended that "this seems like a fairly-establishment, moderate pick." Pamela Brown first responded by underlining that there's "no doubt about it;" but moments later, she revealed that Judge Garland "may carry on Obama's legacy when it comes to gun control." Tapper later claimed possible Supreme Court justice, a "relatively moderate, middle-aged — or 63-year-old...white guy" is apparently "not a nakedly political pick." [video below]
After Tapper gave his "moderate" term for Garland, Brown wasted little time before labeling the nominee a "consensus candidate." The correspondent even played up that "he's seen as conservative when it comes to criminal law. In some cases, he voted in favor of law enforcement, not the criminal defendant. So that is something that, of course, liberals won't like." Brown also cited the presidential pick's decision in the Heller case regarding DC's strict gun control laws: "You may remember that the Heller case, the D.C. law restricting gun rights to gun owners — he [Garland] actually voted not to strike that law down; so that could be something, of course, that the liberals like."
Anchor Wolf Blitzer then turned to CNN journalist Michelle Kosinski. Blitzer used Brown's own label of Garland in his question to Kosinski: "The President has been waiting quite awhile to do this. He thinks he has what they call a consensus candidate." The correspondent replied, "That was the big deal here. How much of a consensus candidate would each of the people who were considered be? But in the end, the question is, will that even matter? Because no matter how moderate someone could be, what decisions did Garland make that were more on the conservative side, as we've been talking about; is that even going to matter to Senate Republicans?"
Tapper used "not a naked political pick" line later in the segment during an appearance by senior political reporter Manu Raju:
JAKE TAPPER: ...[L]et's be frank: President Obama was under a lot of pressure to appoint somebody — or to nominate someone, rather, who was a representative of a minority group — an African-American, a Native American, a Latino — somebody around who (sic) liberals could find a cause, and that could help get voters to the polls. Merrick Garland, a relatively moderate, middle-aged — or 63-year-old, I should say — white guy is not a nakedly political pick.
Just seconds before President Obama came out with Garland, Tapper also turned liberal political historian Douglas Brinkley for his take on the nomination. As you might expect, Brinkley sang the judge's praises:
TAPPER: And Douglas Brinkley, one of the points, I think, has already been illustrated, in terms of the Republican Senate's unwillingness to hold hearings — a few weeks ago, when the Democratic leader, Harry Reid, is suspected to have leaked the name of the governor — the Republican governor of Nevada, Brian Sandoval, as a potential nominee — and Republicans were like, we don't care if it's going to be a Republican governor; we're not holding hearings. So, a moderate — a progressive moderate, like Merrick Garland, isn't really that big of a surprise — that they're still not willing?
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY: No, they're not willing. And Merrick Garland is a very fine choice by President Obama. It's one that's sort of understandable on a number of levels.
It should be pointed out that ABC and CBS used the same "moderate" label for Garland mere minutes before the President's announcement.