NBC's Williams Cues Up Obama: 'That's One She'd Rather Have Back' --6/1/2009
2. Also Doubted Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Pro-Abortion Credentials in '93
3. Leary: 'Greatest President in History!,' Sotomayor 'Fantastic!'
4. CNN Uses Two Libs to Bash Conservatives' 'Judicial Activist' Label
5. ABC Offers Skeptical Take on Stimulus Claims; CBS, NBC Uncritical
6. Highlights from ABC's Show Mocking Left-Wing, Environmental Family
7. New MRC Web Site, So New Online Location for CyberAlerts
NBC provided a platform Friday for President Obama to fire back at conservative critics of his Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor, as Brian Williams cued him up to agree her comment that a Latina judge would make better decisions than a white male one, is "one of those she'd rather have back." Obama naturally agreed as NBC Nightly News aired his response for an uninterrupted two-plus minutes -- an eternity on TV news.
Fill-in anchor Lester Holt led with how "critics on the right tonight are finding some traction in comments she made back in 2001 suggesting a female Hispanic judge would often reach a better conclusion than a white male judge. And late today the President addressed it head on." Viewers soon saw a clip of Williams at the White House with Obama, for a two-part prime time special next week:
This is the quote: "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life." It's your judgment -- perhaps having talked to the judge -- that, as we say, that's one of those she'd rather have back if she had it to re-do?
Obama began by agreeing "I'm sure she would have re-stated it" -- and he wrapped up his retort two minutes and ten seconds later by predicting "all of this nonsense that is being spewed out will be revealed for what it is."
(Meanwhile, CBS discovered more proof Sotomayor is not liberal, describing her as "more centrist than opponents first thought." Reporter Wyatt Andrews, who on Wednesday's CBS Evening News, contended Obama "found a judge with 17 years experience but no clear ideology on discrimination, gay rights, or abortion and who can't be easily defined by political labels," returned Friday night to maintain: "It is also clear that Sotomayor is more centrist than opponents first thought. On SCOTUSblog, a neutral Web site, Tom Goldstein finds that the judge ruled against minorities in 45 out of 50 cases." Goldstein asserted in a soundbite: "And it turns out that almost all the time she rejects claims of discrimination by minorities." More on Wednesday's CBS Evening News: www.mrc.org )
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Friday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
From the top of the Friday, May 29 NBC Nightly News:
LESTER HOLT: In the growing controversy over President Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor, critics on the right tonight are finding some traction in comments she made back in 2001 suggesting a female Hispanic judge would often reach a better conclusion than a white male judge. And late today the President addressed it head on, telling Brian Williams Sotomayor may have wanted to restate her point. Mr. Obama's comments came at the end of a day that Brian and an NBC News team spent with the President documenting life inside the White House for a two-night special to air next week here on NBC. The Sotomayor pick dominated a broad-ranging discussion and capped a day of extraordinary access into the Obama White House. NBC News White House correspondent Savannah Guthrie is also there tonight with more on the Sotomayor controversy. Savannah, good evening to you.
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Good evening, Lester. As you mentioned, those comments that Sotomayor made in 2001 have generated a growing firestorm, and the White House decided today it was time to respond. The President acknowledging for the first time that the judge probably wishes she had used other words, but he also strongly defended his nominee. Here is the President with NBCs Brian Williams in an exclusive interview.
Thursday night, as my colleague Brent Baker noted (see: www.mrc.org ), ABC and NBC fretted that Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor might not adhere to a strict liberal orthodoxy on abortion. NBC reporter Pete Williams said Sotomayor's views on abortion were a "mystery," while ABC's Jan Crawford Greenburg declared "both sides in the contentious debate want to know more."
On Wednesday's CBS Evening News, correspondent Wyatt Andrews sounded the same alarm: "Pro-abortion rights groups worried aloud today that the President -- who promised an abortion rights nominee -- never asked Sotomayor, who is Catholic, where she stands."
On Thursday's Today, co-host Matt Lauer opened the show by demanding to know "Where does she stand? Liberal activists voicing concerns over Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor and her stance on abortion. This morning, they're demanding to know if she's pro-choice or pro-life -- and why President Obama never asked."
But this isn't the first time the networks have channeled the worries of liberal pro-abortion groups about a Democratic President's Supreme Court nominee.
Sixteen years ago, President Clinton picked the solidly liberal Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an ardent feminist, to replace Justice Byron White. Ginsburg is probably the most liberal justice on the Court, but the networks conveyed doubts about whether she would really be a solid liberal vote on abortion.
[This item, by the MRC's Rich Noyes, was posted Saturday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
When Ginsburg was picked on June 14, 1993, she was touted as a "moderate" even though she'd worked as a top ACLU official. Then-CBS anchor Dan Rather told viewers of a live mid-afternoon special report that: "Ginsburg is considered a moderate and a supporter of a woman's right to an abortion. Now there'll be some argument about whether she's considered a moderate or not. That's one of the fulcrum points at which the debate about her nomination no doubt will turn, but she considers herself a moderate, and supporters of her say that she is a moderate."
That night on the NBC Nightly News, anchor Tom Brokaw painted Ginsburg this way: "President Clinton today announced his choice for the U.S. Supreme Court: a sixty-year-old federal judge, a strong advocate of women's rights who has become more moderate in her views over the years, Ruth Bader Ginsburg."
Over on the CBS Evening News, correspondent Rita Braver would only call Ginsburg "moderate to liberal," but she characterized Chief Justice William Rehnquist as an "ultraconservative."
RITA BRAVER: Sixty-year-old Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been an appeals court judge for 13 years. She's considered moderate to liberal, but today she cited this guide to judging from ultraconservative Chief Justice William Rehnquist.
RUTH BADER GINSBURG: "A judge is bound to decide each case fairly, in accord with the relevant facts and the applicable law, even when the decision is not," as he put it, "what the home crowd wants."
On the abortion issue, ABC anchor Peter Jennings relayed doubts just a few minutes after Clinton announced his choice, telling viewers that "in terms of the Roe v. Wade decision, the National Abortion Rights Action League has weighed in fairly quickly, saying it has some concerns but intends to listen to what Judge Ginsburg has to say."
The next morning on CBS's This Morning program, co-host Paula Zahn hit a pro-Ginsburg guest from the left: "The National Abortion Rights Action League is not totally comfortable with this nomination of Judge Ginsburg. They do not feel that she supports Roe v. Wade fully. Are their fears justified?"
Over on NBC's Today, Katie Couric voiced similar fears to White House Chief of Staff Mack McLarty: "So you don't think she has an open mind in terms of interpreting Roe v. Wade, as some abortion rights activists are concerned about?"
And on the June 15 CBS Evening News, correspondent Susan Spencer also saw "questions." Talking about President Clinton, Spencer relayed: "On the Hill today, his choice of Ruth Bader Ginsburg for the Supreme Court was getting good reviews. She made the rounds for what looks like an easy confirmation. But her writings on abortion have raised some questions."
The trumped-up fears of the pro-abortion groups were baseless sixteen years ago, and may be just as baseless today. Responding to Lauer's doubts about Sotomayor on Thursday's Today, NBC's Chuck Todd was the only correspondent to suggest a cynical motive: "It looks like this could be potentially just a straw man by abortion rights groups who are concerned that they're not gonna be able to have a Supreme Court nomination to raise money on."
Of course, network coverage that indulges left-wing worries about a liberal President's Supreme Court choice means even less time for the far more likely concerns of pro-life groups that Sotomayor will be a reliable vote to perpetuate the liberal status quo of abortion on demand.
Displaying a caricature of a celebrity enraptured by President Barack Obama, although apparently quite serious in the underlining attitude he conveyed in an over the top manner, on Friday's Larry King Live actor Denis Leary proclaimed: "I think that President Obama is the greatest President in the history of all of our Presidents and that he can do no wrong in my book."
Asked about Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, Leary, co-producer and star of FX's Rescue Me, exclaimed: "Fantastic!" Guest host Joy Behar prompted him to affirm: "You love her?" He repeated his earlier mantra: "Everything you ask me about President Obama I'm just going to say it's the greatest thing ever. I love the guy!"
Leary, who made the appearance ostensibly to plug his book, 'Why We Suck: A Feel Good Guide to Staying Fat, Loud, Lazy and Stupid', as a Father's Day gift, also related how he likes to "torture" pro-Bush friends and colleagues by gloating over Obama. "I do have to say that I enjoy upsetting people -- friends of mine who might be in the Republican world" by telling them: "President Obama is the greatest thing that ever happened."
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted late Friday night, with video, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
From the not so live (the interview was pre-taped) Friday, May 29 Larry King Live on CNN:
DENIS LEARY: I do have to say that that I think that President Obama is the greatest President in the history of all of our Presidents and that he can do no wrong in my book. So how's that for prejudice on the Democratic side?
BEHAR: What do you think of Obama's pick of Sotomayor?
During a segment on Friday's American Morning, CNN correspondent Carol Costello used two liberal talking heads to cast doubt on the "judicial activist" label used by conservatives. Costello used three sound bites from Jonathan Turley of George Washington University Law School, who branded the use of the term as "perfectly juvenile," and one from NPR's Nina Totenberg to cast aspersions on conservatives who are concerned about judges legislating from the bench.
Costello's report, which began 20 minutes into the 6 am Eastern hour of the CNN program, began by labeling the "judicial activist" term itself an "act" by politicians: "We hear politicians say it all the time, 'we don't need an activist judge legislating from the bench.' But what exactly does that mean? Critics roll their eyes when they hear, 'we don't want an activist judge on the bench,' when, in reality, that's exactly what they want. I'm just saying, if that's true, why not drop the act and tell voters what you really mean?" She further explained that it was a "buzzword that's got staying power."
[This item, by the MRC's Matthew Balan, was posted Friday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
The correspondent then played three sound bites of political leaders using the term, all of them Republican -- former President George W. Bush, and Senators John McCain and Orrin Hatch. She continued by introducing the first clip from Turley, whose political leanings are omitted: "It's used so often and is so politically loaded, Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law expert, suggests you turn off the TV when you hear it." During this first clip, Turley used his "perfectly juvenile" moniker for those who use the "judicial activist" label.
Costello also tried to cast doubt of her own on the term: "A too-liberal court, he says, will pick and choose which laws it doesn't like and find a way to change their meaning or throw them out. If that's the case, then how to explain the court under Chief Justices Rehnquist and Roberts. Both are conservative, and under their leadership, experts say, the high court overturned about 65 state or federal laws. That's more than were overturned in the previous liberal-led courts. So is that bad? Good? Both?" However, she didn't give an explanation as to why these laws were overturned by the Rehnquist and Roberts courts.
After Turley explained in his second sound bite that "yesterday's judicial activists are often today's judicial heroes," the correspondent cited the Supreme Court under Earl Warren's leadership as "judges [who] aren't considered evil activist judges, but wise men." She continued by leading into Totenberg's sole clip: "Some say the problem with the term 'judicial activist' today is that it's evolved into something that has nothing to do with actively impartially interpreting the law." The NPR commentator outlined during her sound bite how conservatives use the "judicial activist" label versus liberals: "Conservatives for a couple of decades have succeeded by using that term as a pejorative. Liberals in the last few years have adopted it as a pejorative about this court."
Once Costello concluded her report, substitute anchor Alina Cho gave her thumbs-up to Turley's "perfectly juvenile" label at the end of the segment: "I love activist judge, 'perfectly juvenile.'"
The full transcript of Carol Costello's report from Friday's "American Morning:"
ALINA CHO: The White House now digging in for a confirmation fight over President Obama's Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, and her historic selection this week has drudged up a familiar and politically-charged argument.
On Friday's Good Morning America, ABC White House correspondent Jake Tapper provided a skeptical, challenging analysis of the Obama administration's claims about the economic stimulus bill. NBC's Today and CBS's Early Show on Thursday simply regurgitated White House statements that the "economy is looking much healthier these days" and that the President is "taking credit for writing the prescription."
Tapper, in contrast, referenced a new administration report on the stimulus entitled "100 Days, 100 Projects" and wondered: "But, how much of this is real? And how much is hype?" He asserted: "Critics have long said the administration overstates the impact of the stimulus." After playing a clip of Obama claiming 150,000 jobs have been created by the stimulus bill, Tapper called that "a number based on theory, not fact." University of Maryland economist Peter Morici appeared briefly to point out, "It's simply an implausible statement to say that some 150,000 jobs were created by direct spending, indirect spending and so forth." See Political Punch for more of Tappers' report: blogs.abcnews.com
[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Friday, with video, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
The ABC correspondent noted the government report claims $27 billion was used for "green improvement" to public housing in Washington D.C. Tapper dismissed, "But, that's not true. The stimulus paid for only two of [seven items listed in the report]. The other five were installed before the stimulus bill was even introduced in Congress." He went on to point out that the $27 billion was the total the D.C. Housing Authority is getting. Only $44,000 came from stimulus money.
Finally, Tapper closed his piece by explaining that the White House, in its first quarterly report, stated $46 billion of the stimulus had been spent. The journalist noted, "They had to revise that figure. It's now $36 billion, which means that less than five percent of the stimulus has gone out the door."
In contrast, NBC and CBS's morning shows have done no such investigations. On Thursday's "Today," after reporting on a drop in unemployment numbers, Hoda Kotb simply added, "At a fund-raiser in Los Angeles last night the President said it was safe to say the economy is back from the brink. He said the stimulus bill is starting to improve the economy." The "Early Show" provided a similar unquestioning tone.
CBS Anchor Chris Wragge recited, "President Obama says the ailing U.S. economy is looking much healthier these days and he's taking credit for writing the prescription." Reporter Susan Roberts proceeded to file a report on home sales and played a clip of the President at a fund-raiser in Beverly Hills.
On "Good Morning America," Thursday, guest news anchor Kate Snow delivered almost the same spin, explaining, "President Obama says the economy is back from the brink. At a fund-raiser in Beverly Hills last night, the President said a sense of calm has returned and he said the stimulus plan passed by Congress is beginning to work." However, "Good Morning America," to its credit, followed-up the next day with Jake Tapper's investigation.
A transcript of the May 29 Jake Tapper segment, which aired at 7:02am, follows:
ROBIN ROBERTS: But, we're going to turn now to the money trail. A new report today from the Commerce Department shows the economy shrank less than expected in the first quarter of 2009. The White House says that's in large part due to the $787 billion economic recovery plan. Senior White House correspondent Jake Tapper takes a look at those claims for us. Good morning, Jake.
The Goode Family, a new half-hour animated comedy show which spoofs the politically-correct and environmental do-good thinking of a liberal family which considers its lifestyle superior to "abstinence people" who "wear flag pins," debuted this past Wednesday night on ABC. The opening scene showed a "Support Our Troops...And Their Opponents" bumper sticker on the family's hybrid.
When the 16-year-old son who the parents adopted from Africa and presumed he'd be black, but to their surprise was a white South African, wants to start driving, the father cautions: "With greater emissions, comes greater responsibility." In another scene, the mother declares "nothing brings a mother and daughter closer together than shopping at a high-end, organic grocery store." And inside the store an intercom announcement alerts shoppers: "Check out the big board to see how you can limit the impact of your existence."
I won't give away all that's in the video in which I cobbled together a little under three minutes of what I thought were the funnier and most-damning parodies of liberal thinking.
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Saturday night, with video, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
My May 25 BiasAlert post, "New Animated Series on ABC to Lampoon Environmentalists," quoted a Wall Street Journal story:
The new animated television series The Goode Family is a send-up of a clan of environmentalists who live by the words "What would Al Gore do?" Gerald and Helen Goode want nothing more than to minimize their carbon footprint. They feed their dog, Che, only veggies (much to the pet's dismay) and Mr. Goode dutifully separates sheets of toilet paper when his wife accidentally buys two-ply. And, of course, the family drives a hybrid. See: www.mrc.org
I then noted:
The series, from Mike Judge who created Beavis and Butt-Head for MTV and King of the Hill for Fox, will debut Wednesday night at 9 PM EDT/PDT, 8 PM CDT/MDT. The May 22 Journal article, "Making a Mockery of Being Green -- The creator of Beavis and Butt-Head and King of the Hill has a new target: environmentalists," observed: "Much as Mr. Judge's series King of the Hill finds humor in the dramas of a working-class Texas family, Goode lampoons a liberal Midwestern household. In Goode, the characters are often mocked for being green just to fit in with their friends and neighbors."
The MRC launched a new Web site on Friday, May 22 so for a few days there will be a disconnect between the links in CyberAlerts for the online posting of each CyberAlert and where you can see screen shots and videos that illustrate each CyberAlert item. As always, you can click on the links to the NewsBusters posts to access the pictures and/or video.
Individual CyberAlert items are now posted online under the "Daily BiasAlerts" heading. The CyberAlert e-mails will continue, but only the e-mail will be called "CyberAlert."
I tried he new system earlier today, but encountered some problems and that's why the CyberAlert is so late today. IT has assured me the new system will work tomorrow.
The HTML version of the "new" CyberAlert will feature all the content previously available only online: Pictures/screen shots, images which will link you directly to online video playback, and embedded links. Don't worry, we will continue to have a plain text version sans anything but the text. Whichever version you now receive is the one you will continue to receive.
To read online any of the items in today's CyberAlert, go to the "BiasAlert" page on our new site which is populated with the latest posts: www.mrc.org
And to check out the new Media Research Center Web site: www.mrc.org
-- Brent Baker