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CBS: CAP Anti "Minorities," Warns Alito Will Take Court "Right" --1/13/2006


1. CBS: CAP Anti "Minorities," Warns Alito Will Take Court "Right"
CBS's Gloria Borger on Thursday night applied a disparaging and misleading description to Concerned Alumni of Princeton (CAP), providing only the assessment that the group "fought against admitting women and minorities to the school," when the group, at least on the minority front, just wanted all those admitted to meet the same academic standards. But Borger also, unlike the ABC or NBC evening newscasts, highlighted a "liberal" former law clerk for nominee Samuel Alito who denounced Democrats: "They are smearing a man of honor and integrity and I am, quite frankly, ashamed of my party at this time." After Borger's story, CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer turned to the Chicago Tribune's Jan Crawford Greenburg who warned that "there's little question" that Alito "would move this court to the right" since "Justice O'Connor provided the critical fifth vote with liberals on key social issues like abortion, religion, affirmative action, and the death penalty." A confused Schieffer seemed to suggest that Alito alone could threaten Roe, or not: "Well, do you say that he might overturn Roe v. Wade, the key decision on abortion? That's not what you're saying?"

2. Nets Distort CAP, Tag It Anti-Minority and "Ultra-Conservative"
CBS's Gloria Borger (see item #1 above) wasn't the only network reporter in the last few days to deliver a distorted description of Concerned Alumni of Princeton (CAP), ones intended to paint the group, concerned about a wide range of liberal policies at their alma mater, as misogynist and racist when the members were simply opposed to lowering admission standards. CNN's Joe Johns asserted CAP was "an ultra-conservative group...known for opposing the admission of more women and minorities to the school" while CNN colleague Bob Franken maintained "during the 1980s" CAP "vigorously resisted increasing the number of women and minorities at their alma mater." CBS's Thalia Assuras charged that CAP was "opposed to admission of women and minorities." And on Good Morning America, Robin Roberts referred to Alito's "membership in an exclusionary Princeton University alumni group."

3. CBS's Bob Schieffer Declares NSA Eavesdropping as "Illegal"
On Thursday's CBS Evening News, anchor Bob Schieffer let slip to the audience that he already considers the Bush administration's controversial NSA wiretapping program to be "illegal," even though the legality of the policy is in dispute.


CBS: CAP Anti "Minorities," Warns Alito
Will Take Court "Right"

CBS's Gloria Borger on Thursday night applied a disparaging and misleading description to Concerned Alumni of Princeton (CAP), providing only the assessment that the group "fought against admitting women and minorities to the school," when the group, at least on the minority front, just wanted all those admitted to meet the same academic standards. (One wonders if when Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign gets going journalists will show such concern for her support of the sexist Wellesley College.) But Borger also, unlike the ABC or NBC evening newscasts, highlighted a "liberal" former law clerk for nominee Samuel Alito who denounced Democrats: "They are smearing a man of honor and integrity and I am, quite frankly, ashamed of my party at this time."

After Borger's story, CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer turned to the Chicago Tribune's Jan Crawford Greenburg who warned that "there's little question" that Alito "would move this court to the right" since "Justice O'Connor provided the critical fifth vote with liberals on key social issues like abortion, religion, affirmative action, and the death penalty." A confused Schieffer seemed to suggest that Alito alone could threaten Roe, or not: "Well, do you say that he might overturn Roe v. Wade, the key decision on abortion? That's not what you're saying?" Greenburg maintained that "Roe is not at stake with this nomination. Five justices on the court now would uphold Roe." Framing the issue as one of abortion "rights," not extending protection of the unborn, Greenburg predicted: "What is more likely is that he would be more willing than Justice O'Connor to allow states to restrict abortion, put greater regulations on the abortion right."

[This item was posted Thursday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To post your comments, go to: newsbusters.org ]

On Wednesday night, Borger described CAP as "a group that opposed affirmative action and co-education at his alma mater." See the January 12 CyberAlert for more on Wednesday night coverage and the real agenda of CAP: www.mediaresearch.org

On neither Wednesday or Thursday night did any of the broadcast network evening newscasts scold Senator Ted Kennedy, who suggested Alito shared the views of one author in a CAP magazine, for using McCarthyistic tactics to try to smear Alito with the views of others.

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth took down a couple of portions of the January 12 CBS Evening News coverage of the Alito hearing, picking up near the end of Gloria Borger's rundown of the day's events:

"As for Alito's controversial membership in Concerned Alumni of Princeton, which fought against admitting women and minorities to the school, committee Chairman Arlen Specter all but declared the issue dead after his staff spent the night combing through boxes of the group's documents."
Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), at hearing: "Judge Alito's name never appeared in any document."
Borger: "Alito's former clerks, some of whom say they're liberal, stepped forward to defend his character after Wednesday's combative session."
Jeffrey Wasserstein, former law clerk to Judge Sam Alito, at a press conference: "The senators of my own party, people that I typically financially support, people that I generally want other people to vote for, they are smearing a man of honor and integrity and I am, quite frankly, ashamed of my party at this time."

Borger wrapped up by noting how Martha Alito had gone from "tears" on Wednesday to "beaming" on Thursday.

Bob Schieffer then went to Greenburg: "I want to call in our legal analyst, Jan Crawford Greenburg, of the Chicago Tribune now. She's at the Supreme Court tonight. She's been in the hearings all day. Jan, it appears that Judge Alito is going to be confirmed, if something doesn't go wrong here, but let me ask you, let's say that he is confirmed. How is he going to make the court different than Sandra Day O'Connor, who he is going to replace."
Jan Crawford Greenburg, at the Supreme Court: "Well, there's little question, Bob, that he would move this court to the right. Justice O'Connor provided the critical fifth vote with liberals on key social issues like abortion, religion, affirmative action, and the death penalty. Alito's record suggests he sees those issues differently, and would change the direction of the court."
Schieffer: "Well, do you say that he might overturn Roe v. Wade, the key decision on abortion? That's not what you're saying?"
Greenburg: "No, we didn't get an answer on that this week during the hearing, and Roe is not at stake with this nomination. Five justices on the court now would uphold Roe. What is more likely is that he would be more willing than Justice O'Connor to allow states to restrict abortion, put greater regulations on the abortion right."
Schieffer: "Do you see any chance now that Democrats may still try to filibuster this when it comes to a vote on the Senate floor?"
Greenburg: "Not at this point. Judge Alito was such an effective witness before this committee, and disarmed Democrats and their tough questions. The fight was out of the room today."

Nets Distort CAP, Tag It Anti-Minority
and "Ultra-Conservative"

CBS's Gloria Borger (see item #1 above) wasn't the only network reporter in the last few days to deliver a distorted description of Concerned Alumni of Princeton (CAP), ones intended to paint the group, concerned about a wide range of liberal policies at their alma mater, as misogynist and racist when the members were simply opposed to lowering admission standards. CNN's Joe Johns asserted CAP was "an ultra-conservative group...known for opposing the admission of more women and minorities to the school" while CNN colleague Bob Franken maintained "during the 1980s" CAP "vigorously resisted increasing the number of women and minorities at their alma mater." CBS's Thalia Assuras charged that CAP was "opposed to admission of women and minorities." And on Good Morning America, Robin Roberts referred to Alito's "membership in an exclusionary Princeton University alumni group."

As recounted in the January 12 CyberAlert, on Wednesday's World News Tonight, anchor Elizabeth Vargas referred to Alito's "membership in a controversial group opposed to women and minorities at his college" and George Stephanopoulos relayed how Democrats "say the group was notorious for its discriminatory agenda."

A rundown of the above-cited descriptions of CAP, as caught by MRC analysts Megan McCormack, Michael Rule and Brian Boyd:

# Joe Johns on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360, January 11: "The topic, Alito's one time membership in an ultra-conservative group called Concerned Alumni of Princeton, known for opposing the admission of more women and minorities to the school."

# Bob Franken on CNN's American Morning, January 12: "Republican committee chairman Arlen Specter was telling Democrat Edward Kennedy he wasn't ready to rule on Kennedy's request to subpoena a file regarding Alito's membership in the Concerned Alumni of Princeton. That was the group that during the 1980s vigorously resisted increasing the number of women and minorities at their alma mater."

# Thalia Assuras on CBS's Early Show, January 12: A "visibly frustrated Democrat Edward Kennedy grilled Samuel Alito on his membership in a conservative Princeton Alumni organization, one opposed to admission of women and minorities."

# Robin Roberts on ABC's Good Morning America, January 12: "Alito's character was called into question by Democrats grilling him about his membership in an exclusionary Princeton University alumni group."

CBS's Bob Schieffer Declares NSA Eavesdropping
as "Illegal"

On Thursday's CBS Evening News, anchor Bob Schieffer let slip to the audience that he already considers the Bush administration's controversial NSA wiretapping program to be "illegal," even though the legality of the policy is in dispute.

Schieffer's declaration came right after correspondent Mika Brzezinski finished an unrelated story about cell phone record availability, which conveyed that anyone can purchase another person's cell phone records without that person's permission, and whether there should be government protection for the privacy of cell phone subscribers. As the two sat in chairs near the Evening News anchor desk, Schieffer quipped that the government could just buy people's phone records instead of doing "illegal eavesdropping":
"Well, thank you very much, Mika. I mean, maybe the government doesn't need to do this illegal eavesdropping. They could just buy it."

[This item, by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth, was posted Thursday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To share your take, go to: newsbusters.org ]

Actually, it wasn't the first time Schieffer inserted his personal "illegal" view into coverage of this subject. The December 20 CyberAlert related about the December 16 CBS Evening News:
Though the White House maintains the policy is legal and congressional leaders as well as a federal judge were told about it in 2002, CBS characterized the policy as illegal. CBS anchor Bob Schieffer asked: "Has the government been using its spy satellites to illegally eavesdrop on Americans?" Schieffer then declared as fact: "It is against the law to wiretap or eavesdrop on the conversations of Americans in this country without a warrant from a judge, but the New York Times says that is exactly what the President secretly ordered the National Security Agency to do in the months after 9/11."

END of Brief Excerpt

For the December 20 CyberAlert item: www.mediaresearch.org

-- Brent Baker