2. You Read It Here First: FNC's Fox NewsWatch Picks Up MRC on Alito
3. Read It Here First: Hume Picks Up How Clarence Thomas Deserves *
4. Monday's IBD: Op-Ed by MRC's Noyes on Labeling Ginsburg v Alito
Catching up with some reporting from late last week, on Friday's Good Morning America Claire Shipman declared that for President Bush's low approval rating "the best overall comparison may be between two wartime Presidents. President Bush's drop in approval ratings mirrors none so closely as Lyndon Johnson's as he became further enmeshed in Vietnam." As she spoke, viewers saw side-by-side pictures of Presidents Bush and Johnson followed by a graphic with a series of bar graphs, over a video of soldiers in a Vietnam jungle, comparing Johnson and Bush approval ratings at similar time periods of their presidencies.
Earlier last week, CBS compared Bush with Nixon. The November 3 CyberAlert recounted: Wednesday's CBS Evening News touted a new poll by the network which found, as anchor Bob Schieffer relayed, that "the President's job approval has reached the lowest level yet" at "only 35 percent" with Congress "rated even lower" at a mere "34 percent," but Bush and Congress are doing a lot better than Vice President Cheney whose "favorable rating is down nine points this year to just 19 percent." Over side-by-side head-shot videos on screen of Richard Nixon and George W. Bush, with Bush's 35 percent approval below his image and Gallup's 27 percent finding beneath the shot of Nixon, John Roberts pointed out how "the only recent President lower at this point in their second term was Richard Nixon." Roberts asked and answered: "What's behind the slide: 2,000 war dead in Iraq, an indictment in the CIA leak, the aborted Harriet Miers nomination, the disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina." See: www.mediaresearch.org
From DC, Shipman began: "Diane, a 39 percent approval rating is grim, but the real headline from this new poll is that the White House is hemorrhaging on those issues of trust and credibility. And for a White House, as you mention, that made its name on the issue of trust, it's coming back to haunt them in a big way.
You read it here first, example one of two. On FNC's Fox Newswatch over the weekend, host Eric Burns and panelist Jim Pinkerton cited evidence of media bias in coverage of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito which had been recounted in CyberAlert.
Burns told panelist Jane Hall: "The Media Research Center, Jane, according to them a reporter for ABC named Jennifer Yellin, on Good Morning America Monday labeled Judge Alito a 'conservative' five time in 50 seconds."
Indeed, the October 31 CyberAlert reported: Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito is conservatives and all the television coverage Monday morning made that clear, but several reporters went further by either repeatedly applying the tag or by adding adjectives to suggest he's out of the mainstream. On ABC's Good Morning America, Jessica Yellen issued five labels in under 50 seconds, describing Alito as someone who will please Bush's "conservative base," has "established conservative credentials," is "a law and order conservative," who is "in the mold of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia" and whose "writing is so similar to the conservative justice's, he's sometimes nicknamed 'Scalito.'" See: www.mediaresearch.org
A bit later in the discussion, Jim Pinkerton brought up another instance of bias recounted in a CyberAlert: "Diane Sawyer makes it sound like Alito's views, when he votes reflect his views. In fact, when he voted on the Planned Parenthood case, for example, he wasn't saying it was his view on abortion, he was saying that I stand up for the right of the people of Pennsylvania, the legislature and the Governor, to make this law, not his view, it's their view."
The November 2 CyberAlert related: ABC's Diane Sawyer, on Tuesday's Good Morning America, distorted Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito's ruling on the constitutionality of a law passed by the majorities of both houses in the Pennsylvania legislature and signed by that commonwealth's Democratic Governor, into how "he argued that a woman should have to notify her husband before she gets an abortion." Sawyer reminded her guest, commentator Joe Watkins, how "Sandra Day O'Connor said this reflects a repugnant view of marriage. Women do not lose their constitutional rights because they're married." Sawyer displayed her disdain: "But does this opinion give even you pause? And again Sandra Day O'Connor's notation that it was a repugnant view of marriage?" Sawyer turned to her other guest, Joe Lockhart, and, in astonishment, pointed out how "72 percent of Americans say a woman should have to notify her spouse. So, there seems to be a majority in this country in favor of that." See: www.mediaresearch.org
You read it here first, example two of two. In his "Grapevine" segment on Monday night, FNC's Brit Hume picked up on controversy over a Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel editorial last week which, in arguing that the Alito nomination will lessen the "diversity" of the Supreme Court, charged that while Justice Clarence Thomas is a "black man," he "deserves an asterisk because he arguably does not represent the views of mainstream black America." CyberAlert recited the editorial last Wednesday. In addition to Hume, FNC's Hannity & Colmes on Monday night devoted a segment to the subject prompted, like Hume, by a Sunday letter to readers in the Journal-Sentinel about an outpouring of negative reaction to the slam at Thomas.
Hume reported on the November 7 Special Report with Brit Hume:
For the November 6 letter from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Editorial Board, go to: www.jsonline.com
The November 2 CyberAlert recounted: In denouncing President Bush's nomination of Samuel Alito for the Supreme Court, an editorial in the Tuesday Milwaukee Journal, "A nomination that will divide," charged that Justice Clarence Thomas really isn't black. After fretting about how a "minus" of the Alito pick "is that the nomination lessens the court's diversity," the editorial writers argued: "In losing a woman, the court with Alito would feature seven white men, one white woman and a black man, who deserves an asterisk because he arguably does not represent the views of mainstream black America." See: www.mediaresearch.org
Monday's Investor's Business Daily carried an op-ed by Rich Noyes, the MRC's Research Director, contrasting ideological labeling of Supreme Court nominees Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Samuel Alito. A reprint of it follows.
The IBD posting is not online, at least not for non-subscribers, but on Monday Human Events posted the op-ed on its Web site: www.humaneventsonline.com
A reprint of the piece:
Supreme Bias: Media Label Alito a Right-Wing Extremist
by Rich Noyes
New Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito has been a Justice Department lawyer, a U.S. attorney, and a federal judge. Bill Clinton's first nominee to the Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, was a federal judge, too, but her resume also showed she had been a liberal political activist, most notably as the director of the Women's Rights Project for the ACLU.
But in the first hours after each was nominated, network reporters assured viewers that Judge Ginsburg was a "moderate" and a "centrist," while journalists characterized Judge Alito as a right-wing extremist.
Indeed, even before President Bush announced Judge Alito's nomination on Monday morning, reporters were in a labeling frenzy. ABC's Charles Gibson called Alito "very conservative" and "the most conservative member" of an otherwise "liberal appellate court." Over on CBS, Gloria Borger dubbed Alito "quite conservative," the same label applied on CNN by early-morning anchor Carol Costello. On ABC's Good Morning America, a breathless Jessica Yellin labeled Alito as "conservative" five times in 50 seconds.
Monday night's newscasts carried the same message. ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas called Alito a "staunch conservative," while CBS's John Roberts warned that "if confirmed, Alito would wipe out the swing seat now occupied by Sandra Day O'Connor, tilting the Supreme Court in a solidly conservative direction." (In contrast, NBC anchor Brian Williams agreed Alito was "dependably conservative" but he also saw an "independent streak," as did NBC reporter Pete Williams.)
Twelve years ago, those same networks denied Judge Ginsburg's liberal ideology. A few hours after President Clinton announced Ginsburg's nomination on June 14, 1993, NBC's Andrea Mitchell pronounced Ginsburg "a judicial moderate and a pioneer for women's rights." The next morning on ABC, Good Morning America co-host Joan Lunden asked legal editor Arthur Miller: "We hear words like 'centrist,' 'moderate,' 'consensus builder.' How will she fit into this court?" Miller, a longtime friend of Ginsburg, wrongly predicted she'd be a centrist justice.
Now, network reporters are fearful that Alito may be too conservative in any future rulings on abortion. Tuesday morning's Good Morning America featured the on-screen headline "Will Alito Overturn Abortion Rights?" throughout two segments discussing Alito's nomination. Referring to Alito's 1991 ruling on the constitutionality of a Pennsylvania law requiring notification of the husband prior to an abortion, CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin declared, "it's a very good indication that this is a judge who will want to overturn Roe v. Wade."
Twelve years ago, pro-life groups were concerned because the liberal Ginsburg would be replacing Justice Byron White, one of two votes against Roe v. Wade. A spokesman for the National Right to Life Committee told CNN that Ginsburg's approach "would invalidate even limits on late-term abortions, it would invalidate parental consent laws and the government would be required to pay for abortion."
But in covering Ginsburg's nomination back in 1993, none of the three broadcast network morning shows mentioned the concerns of pro-life groups or other conservatives. Amazingly, the only complaints forwarded to audiences the morning after her selection came from pro-abortion activists worried that the liberal feminist Ginsburg wasn't hardline enough on Roe v. Wade.
On the June 15, 1993 This Morning, CBS's 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?"
When the ideological labels were reversed, the broadcast networks were thoroughly indifferent to conservative anxiety about a liberal judge. Now they seize upon complaints from professional liberal activists about a conservative nominee as they hype the coming battle in the Senate as "Armageddon."
And the same hard left activists who worried about Ginsburg's purity are presented as reasonable when they complain about Alito's alleged extremism. "I think it may even require the Democrats to filibuster," pro-abortion activist Kate Michelman claimed on Tuesday's Good Morning America. But 12 years ago, conservative activists troubled by Ginsburg's selection were shut out of TV coverage that celebrated her "centrism."
END of Reprint of Noyes op-ed
-- Brent Baker