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Lauer Gives Extremist Tag to Alito: "He Is an Ultra-Conservative" --1/10/2006


1. Lauer Gives Extremist Tag to Alito: "He Is an Ultra-Conservative"
On Tuesday's Today, co-host Matt Lauer applied an extreme ideological tag to Supreme Court nominee Sam Alito, telling former Senator Fred Thompson: "Let's face it, he is an ultra-conservative and his track record on the bench is that he, he, [talking over Thompson] he goes to the right on key issues." Thompson rejected the label. Lauer also fretted that if Alito is confirmed, "eight of the nine Supreme Court justices will be men, eight of the nine will be white, eight of the nine will have law degrees from either Harvard or Yale, five of the nine will be Catholic. What does that say about the, the Court's ability to reflect and, and, and rule on behalf of the diverse population of this country?"

2. ABC Anchor Vargas Worries to Specter That Alito May Overturn Roe
ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas approached Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter from the left in a taped interview played on Monday's World News Tonight. She described the fairly liberal Pennsylvanian as "a moderate Republican" before empathizing with him over Alito's apparent position that the Constitution does not provide a right to abortion: "How bothered are you by comments that he's made in 1985 in memos, saying that there is not a constitutional right? The Constitution does not protect the right to have an abortion?" Vargas pointed out to Specter how "you are one of a handful of pro-choice Republicans" and wondered: "But if you get the sense in these hearings that Judge Alito would overturn or weaken Roe versus Wade, would that make him unqualified if your opinion?" When Specter insisted that "there are no extraordinary circumstances to warrant filibustering Judge Alito," a seemingly astounded Vargas blurted: "None?"

3. CBS Digs Out Blurry C-SPAN Video to Taint DeLay with Abramoff
CBS's Gloria Borger was so intent on tying Tom DeLay to Jack Abramoff that she "obtained" -- meaning someone with an agenda gave to her -- a very blurry C-SPAN video which she trumpeted on Monday's CBS Evening News: "In this 2003 videotape of a convention of College Republicans obtained by CBS News, Jack Abramoff all but called Tom DeLay his hero." After running a clip of Abramoff declaring that "Tom DeLay is who all of us want to be when we grow up," Borger, as if a public official can control who praises him, ran video of Abramoff giving DeLay a hug as she charged: "Now the cozy relationship between the lobbyist and the leader has left DeLay without a top job in the House and left Republicans scrambling to keep their majority."

4. Harry Belafonte: Bush is "the Greatest Terrorist in the World"
During a visit with Venezuela's far-left President Hugo Chavez, actor/singer Harry Belafonte, a UNICEF "goodwill ambassador," denounced President George W. Bush as "the greatest tyrant in the world" and "the greatest terrorist in the world" and proclaimed to Chavez that "millions of the American people, millions support your revolution."


Lauer Gives Extremist Tag to Alito: "He
Is an Ultra-Conservative"

On Tuesday's Today, co-host Matt Lauer applied an extreme ideological tag to Supreme Court nominee Sam Alito, telling former Senator Fred Thompson: "Let's face it, he is an ultra-conservative and his track record on the bench is that he, he, [talking over Thompson] he goes to the right on key issues." Thompson rejected the label. Lauer also fretted that if Alito is confirmed, "eight of the nine Supreme Court justices will be men, eight of the nine will be white, eight of the nine will have law degrees from either Harvard or Yale, five of the nine will be Catholic. What does that say about the, the Court's ability to reflect and, and, and rule on behalf of the diverse population of this country?"

Such skin color diversity priorities were not displayed by liberals or the news media during the hearings for Clarence Thomas.
The MRC's Geoff Dickens took down Lauer's questions to Thompson in the 7am half hour of the January 10 Today:

# "Fred Thompson is a former Republican senator from Tennessee who helped guide current Chief Justice John Roberts through his confirmation hearings just last year. Senator, nice to see you, welcome back."

# "Mostly table setting yesterday in, in these hearings but a couple of interesting things. You had a lot of senators get up and basically say, 'I've already made up my mind Judge Alito as to whether I'm gonna vote up or down for you.' So is this process now, Senator Thompson, all about giving senators a chance to make partisan speeches?"

# "In, in his opening statement the headline that's coming from Judge Alito yesterday is that when he said that judges should be able to learn and change their minds, he even said, quote, 'Good judges are always open to the possibility of changing their minds.' And then interestingly Senator Specter said, 'Hey!' he reminded the other senators, 'Hey in the past partisans have been surprised by some people they've elevated to the Supreme Court who've actually ruled in ways they didn't expect.' How do you, how do you like that strategy?"

# "And interpret the law. But okay what he did write in 1985 when applying for a job in the Reagan administration was the following, 'I am particularly proud of my contribution in recent cases in which the government has argued in the Supreme Court that racial and ethnic quotas should not be allowed and that the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion.' So if he's interpreting the law there in that statement he doesn't believe that a woman's right to choose is protected by the Constitution why shouldn't a fair minded person like yourself assume that will impact any future rulings he makes on the Supreme Court?"

# "But let's face it, he is an ultra-conservative and his track record on the bench is that he, he, he goes to the right on key issues."
Thompson: "He's not an ultra-conservative. He's a conservative in a conservative mainstream, just like Democratic appointees have been liberal in a liberal mainstream."

# Lauer: "If you were advising him the way you advise Judge Roberts how would you advise him to answer that very question on that comment, on that writing from 1985 that he's bound to get today?"

# "Take a look at this graphic [it']s interesting. The Supreme Court. If Judge Alito is con-, is nominated or confirmed eight of the nine Supreme Court justices will be men, eight of the nine will be white, eight of the nine will have law degrees from either Harvard or Yale, five of the nine will be Catholic. What does that say about the, the Court's ability to reflect and, and, and rule on behalf of the diverse population of this country?"

# "He'll be confirmed?"

ABC Anchor Vargas Worries to Specter
That Alito May Overturn Roe

ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas approached Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter from the left in a taped interview played on Monday's World News Tonight. She described the fairly liberal Pennsylvanian as "a moderate Republican" before empathizing with him over Alito's apparent position that the Constitution does not provide a right to abortion: "How bothered are you by comments that he's made in 1985 in memos, saying that there is not a constitutional right? The Constitution does not protect the right to have an abortion?" Vargas pointed out to Specter how "you are one of a handful of pro-choice Republicans" and wondered: "But if you get the sense in these hearings that Judge Alito would overturn or weaken Roe versus Wade, would that make him unqualified if your opinion?" When Specter insisted that "there are no extraordinary circumstances to warrant filibustering Judge Alito," a seemingly astounded Vargas blurted: "None?"

Vargas also touted how Specter, a cancer survivor, "fights passionately for stem cell research."

[This item was posted Monday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To share your views, go to: newsbusters.org ]

The January 9 piece from Vargas, who anchored from Washington, DC, followed the lead story by George Stephanopoulos, who recounted Alito's first day of hearings. Vargas had sat down with Specter in an empty Senate hearing room.

Vargas introduced her session with Specter: "The man leading the proceedings is Senator Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, who's been part of ten previous Supreme Court confirmation hearings. His vote is powerful. It is also unpredictable. As a moderate Republican, he has sided with Democrats in the past. And today, he told me, the best thing Sam Alito can do for his chances is to be candid."

Vargas to Specter: "You have said you're going to begin your questions on the subject of abortion. How bothered are you by comments that he's made in 1985 in memos, saying that there is not a constitutional right? The Constitution does not protect the right to have an abortion?"
Specter: "I believe that Judge Alito should be questioned closely and I intend to do so, on his 1985 statement, that the Constitution does not provide a right to an abortion. And one question is, does he still have that view? Was it a personal view? Was it a view of the law? And whatever he had to say in 1985, what weight will he give to the precedence?"
Vargas: "You are one of a handful of pro-choice Republicans. But if you get the sense in these hearings that Judge Alito would overturn or weaken Roe versus Wade, would that make him unqualified if your opinion?"
Specter: "I would not decide my vote on a single issue. I voted to confirm Rehnquist as Chief Justice even though he voted against Roe. I do not believe in a litmus test. I believe in evaluating the individual on the totality of the circumstances."
Specter at 1987 hearing: "Judge Bork, with all do respect, I think you're putting the rabbit in the hat."
Vargas: "Senator Specter has played a pivotal role in past hearings of Supreme Court nominees. His grilling of Judge Robert Bork in 1987 was, in the eyes of many, what killed Bork's nomination."
Specter at hearing: "I object to that vociferously. I'm asking questions here."
Vargas: "His sharp questioning of Anita Hill, during the Clarence Thomas hearings in 1991, shook her credibility and helped Thomas get appointed to the bench. He has deep respect for the tradition and the history of these hearings."
Vargas to Specter: "Democrats know that if they really do decide they want to oppose the appointment of Judge Alito to the Supreme Court bench, their best bet to do this is to filibuster."
Specter: "There are no extraordinary circumstances to warrant filibustering Judge Alito."
An astonished Vargas: "None?"
Specter: "None. None. If the Democrats decide to do so, they can make that judgment on their own. They don't have to agree with Arlen Specter. But they may have to pay a political price."
Specter, in video without hair: "Look in the mirror every day, I can barely recognize myself. And not to have the availability of the best in medical care is simply atrocious."
Specter: "Arlen Specter is a recent cancer survivor, who fights passionately for stem cell research."
Vargas to Specter: "I want to the turn of the issue of your health. You look great. How do you feel?"
Specter: "Feel fine. Feel fine. I'm a little discouraged that after all the weighty issues I have been involved in, that I may be remembered most for having grown my hair back."
Vargas: "You've been declared cancer-free?"
Specter: "I have been declared cancer-free."
Vargas: "That must have been good news."
Specter: "And how. And how. One of the biggest days of my life was the day I stopped chemotherapy treatments."
Vargas: "How did you celebrate?"
Specter: "I had two martinis and a steak."
Vargas: "Senator Specter will lead off the questioning tomorrow of Judge Samuel Alito."

CBS Digs Out Blurry C-SPAN Video to Taint
DeLay with Abramoff

CBS's Gloria Borger was so intent on tying Tom DeLay to Jack Abramoff that she "obtained" -- meaning someone with an agenda gave to her -- a very blurry C-SPAN video which she trumpeted on Monday's CBS Evening News: "In this 2003 videotape of a convention of College Republicans obtained by CBS News, Jack Abramoff all but called Tom DeLay his hero." After running a clip of Abramoff declaring that "Tom DeLay is who all of us want to be when we grow up," Borger, as if a public official can control who praises him, ran video of Abramoff giving DeLay a hug as she charged: "Now the cozy relationship between the lobbyist and the leader has left DeLay without a top job in the House and left Republicans scrambling to keep their majority."

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

Bob Schieffer set up the January 9 CBS Evening News piece:
"Congressman Tom DeLay's decision on Saturday to permanently give up his job as the House Republican leader is the best sign yet of just how badly the bribery and corruption scandal has shaken Capitol Hill. DeLay has not been implicated in this scandal, but has been closely linked to lobbyist Jack Abramoff and that has been enough for other Republicans to urge him to step aside. And if a new poll is any indication, the public is getting fed up with Republicans and Democrats at the Capitol. Here's Gloria Borger."

Jack Abramoff, in blurry C-SPAN video with bad sound (likely a more than once copied VHS tape) from July 25, 2003: "-say no one has encountered an individual as unique as Tom DeLay."
Borger: "In this 2003 videotape of a convention of College Republicans obtained by CBS News, Jack Abramoff all but called Tom DeLay his hero."
Jack Abrfamoff: "Tom DeLay is who all of us want to be when we grow up."
Borger, over video of Abramoff and DeLay hugging: "Now the cozy relationship between the lobbyist and the leader has left DeLay without a top job in the House and left Republicans scrambling to keep their majority. Their solution: Propose lobbying reform as fast as you can say Jack Abramoff. But it's not easy to separate money from power, particularly when you're the majority party with most of the power."
Former House Majority Leader Dock Armey: "If, in fact, you think this job is about horse trading on your own behalf, you're going to end up in trouble."
Borger: "Dick Armey, along with Newt Gingrich, brought House Republicans to power in 1994. He's now a lobbyist at one of Washington's top firms. He thinks Tom DeLay's preoccupation with money made him lose sight of almost everything else."
Borger to Armey: "So you think it's better for the House Republicans that Tom DeLay is now out of the leadership?"
Dick Armey: "I think Tom was the guy who had obviously lost the vision and was, in fact, setting a course of personal disaster."
Borger: "Now Republicans are in a race against Democrats who also want to be the party of reform. So far, almost one hundred congressional Democrats and Republicans have raced to get rid of their Abramoff-tainted money. And with good reason. A new CBS News poll shows Congress's approval rating at a measly 27 percent, a drop of 17 points from a year ago. Speaker Dennis Hastert canceled a trip to India to take charge of Republican lobbying reform. And some say his majority could hang in the balance, Bob."

Harry Belafonte: Bush is "the Greatest
Terrorist in the World"

During a visit with Venezuela's far-left President Hugo Chavez, actor/singer Harry Belafonte, a UNICEF "goodwill ambassador," denounced President George W. Bush as "the greatest tyrant in the world" and "the greatest terrorist in the world" and proclaimed to Chavez that "millions of the American people, millions support your revolution."


The AP on Sunday first reported Belafonte's Sunday outburst and the cable networks on Monday ran a video clip, from Venezuelan TV, which provided a bit longer quote.

As aired on Monday's Hannity & Colmes on FNC, for instance, on an outdoor stage with Chavez beside him, Belafonte charged:
"No matter what the greatest tyrant in the world, the greatest terrorist in the world, George W. Bush says [possible edit jump as video switches to crowd shot and then back to Belafonte], we're here to tell you: Not hundreds, not thousands, but millions of the American people, millions support your revolution, support your ideas and we are expressing our solidarity with you."

For the Internet Movie Database's page on Belafonte: www.imdb.com

For the AP story, "Belafonte Calls Bush 'Greatest Terrorist,'" from Caracas, which reported that "Belafonte led a delegation of Americans including the actor Danny Glover and the Princeton University scholar Cornel West that met the Venezuelan president for more than six hours late Saturday. Some in the group attended Chavez's television and radio broadcast Sunday," go to: news.yahoo.com

-- Brent Baker