CNN's Wolf Blitzer late Tuesday afternoon characterized it as "an incredibly important exchange" and a "very, very dramatic moment" when
Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor "concurred" with Senator Lindsey
Graham that he would have paid a heavy price if he had ever maintained
"a wise white man would make better decisions than a Latina," yet neither ABC nor NBC mentioned in their evening newscasts Sotomayor's acknowledgment about the impact of her assertion "a wise Latina woman" would "reach a better conclusion than a white male" if reversed.
ABC's Jan Crawford Greenburg, who described the hearing as "grueling," NBC's Pete Williams and CBS's Wyatt Andrews all highlighted Sotomayor's defense of her "wise Latina" reasoning, but none cited the exchange with Graham. CBS's Jeff Greenfield, however, noted Graham's point, if not Sotomayor's acceptance of it: "We saw Lindsey Graham of South Carolina - very pointedly and conversationally - saying to her, 'you know, if I'd said such things about the superiority of a Caucasian male I'd have had my head handed to me.'"
Shortly before 5 PM EDT, Blitzer segued to an ad break during live coverage of the confirmation hearing:
That was certainly one of the highlights, if not the highlight, so far, the questioning of Sonia Sotomayor by the Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, especially that very, very dramatic moment when she concurred that, if he would have said something along the lines if he, as a white man, as a Caucasian, felt that a wise white man would make better decisions than a Latina, for example, he would have been over with. His career would have ended. He confronted her with that. And she concurred, basically. It was a very, very dramatic moment.
A few minutes later, Blitzer re-played part of the exchange:
There was an incredibly important exchange that just occurred between Lindsey Graham, the Republican Senator from South Carolina, a key member of this panel, and Sonia Sotomayor. I'm going to play this clip, and then we will discuss.
GRAHAM: Do you understand, ma'am, that, if I had said anything like that, and my reasoning was that I'm trying to inspire somebody, they would have had my head? Do you understand that? SOTOMAYOR: I do understand how those words could be taken that way, particularly if read in isolation.
GRAHAM: Well, I don't know how else you could take that. If Lindsey Graham said that "I will make a better senator than X because of my experience as a Caucasian male, makes me better able to represent the people of South Carolina," and my opponent was a minority, it would make national news. And it should.
Greenfield's assessment, on the July 14 CBS Evening News, of what the Judiciary Committee's Republicans achieved:
Well I think the conservatives on the panel have made the case to their base and to their supporters that this is someone who brings identity politics into the law where it doesn't belong. That she puts her gender, her ethnicity front and center. We've heard that in the speeches. We saw Lindsey Graham of South Carolina - very pointedly and conversationally - saying to her "you know, if I'd said such things about the superiority of a Caucasian male I'd have had my head handed to me." So they laid out the reasons why conservatives would not be happy with a Sotomayor confirmation.
- Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center