This was from over the weekend, but it's still worth taking a look because I think it helps illustrate the media's deliberate attempt to gin up phony controversy via purposefully dishonest coverage of the Sotomayor nomination.
Following the the round table discussion from ABC's This Week With George Stephanopoulos, the segment was posted online with this headline:
The segment featured guests senators Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas). Naturally, Stephanopoulos wanted to talk about the "Latina woman" quote, and naturally, Stephanopoulos refused to provide any context for the quote, which has become the Beltway Rule of Law for covering Sotomayor.
But notice the headline and how ABC News stressed the possibility of a filibuster. This was almost as bad as what CBS's Bob Schieffer did simultaneously on Fact the Nation Sunday morning, when he asked Cornyn if Sotomayor's nomination might be doomed. Keep in mind that on Sunday there was, I believe, exactly one Republican senator who was on the record opposing Sotomayor's nominations, but Schieffer wanted to know if the nomination might be sunk.
The same with ABC--how could a filibuster be in the offering by Republicans to squash Obama's pick if Republicans themselves did not oppose her? In fact, in the discussion between Schumer and Cornyn on ABC's This Week, the word "filibuster" was never even mentioned in connection to Sotomayor. The topic did not come up because virtually nobody who's paying attention, and who is being honest about the situation (which eliminates our press corps), thinks an anti-Sotomayor filibusters is remote possibility, as of today. Yet ABC did it's best to manufacture news by inserting the filibuster word into its Sotomayor headline.
Again, it's part of a pathetic, deliberate attempt to concoct news.
On Hardball tonight, Pat Buchanan noted that he supported Nixon Supreme Court nominee Harrold Carswell:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: How well does she [Sonia Sotomayor] compare to Howard [sic] Carswell?
BUCHANAN: Harrold Carswell? I would think probably she's right in the same league, Chris.
MATTHEWS (laughing): Pat, that's an insult, and you know it. That -- Lawrence --
BUCHANAN (laughing): I supported Carswell!
Buchanan not only supported Carswell when Nixon nominated him in 1970, he continues to defend Carswell against charges of racism. In a 2005 column, Buchanan claimed "Liberals smeared Nixon nominees [Clement] Haynesworth and Carswell as racists."
Now, where ever would anyone have gotten the idea that Harrold Carswell was a racist? Maybe from a speech Carswell gave at an American Legion gathering in which he said: "I believe that segregation of the races is proper ... and the only practical and correct way of life in our states. I yield to no man in the firm, vigorous belief in the principles of white supremacy and I shall always be so governed."
Yeah, that's probably it.
When that speech was uncovered, Carswell did his best to pretend he didn't stand by it. But his judicial record cast doubt on those claims:
While he was a district judge, 60% of his 23 civil rights decisions were reversed by the Fifth Circuit Court. In 1963, he dismissed a complaint on behalf of blacks who were trying to attend a Tallahassee theater; the Circuit Court reversed his ruling with the biting comment, "These orders are clearly in error."
[I]n a suit to desegregate the faculty of a formerly all-black school near Pensacola, Carswell reasoned that the Supreme Court's desegregation decisions in 1954 and 1955 referred only to students, not to faculty.
After becoming a circuit-court judge, he joined in granting a desegregation delay to five Southern states. It was a decision tacitly endorsed by Nixon's Southern strategist, John Mitchell. In mid-January, as Carswell and Mitchell were dining and discussing the impending appointment, the Supreme Court reversed Carswell's decision and told the states to desegregate by Feb. 1.
And to this day, Pat Buchanan defends Carswell -- who supported segregation and boasted of his belief in "white supremacy" -- from charges of racism, and laughs about his support for Carswell.
Pat Buchanan is perhaps the best-known bigot in America. He called Martin Luther King Jr. "one of the most divisive men in contemporary history." He called Adolf Hitler "an individual of great courage" and wrote a column questioning whether World War II was "worth it" and wondered, "[W]hy destroy Hitler?" He defends a self-proclaimed white supremacist from charges of racism. Nearly every day, he demonstrates contempt for women and minorities.
MSNBC's continued employment of him says a lot about the cable channel.
Well, for about a third of a sentence, anyway. Still, it's a start. Here's Savage, as quoted by the San Francisco Chronicle:
"I'm going to make an allegation that I can't support: these out of context soundbites came from Media Matters, funded by George Soros, whose goal is to wipe out conservative voices in America,'' he told the Chronicle. "If it turns out they're continuing to do this, they're next on my list. I'm not going to tolerate them trying to get me killed.''
What has Savage so upset this time? He has gotten it into his head that Media Matters is responsible for him being banned from the United Kingdom.
Savage, incidentally, once said of Media Matters: "They have no place in America." And he once said "If I had the power by executive order, I would round up every member of the ACLU and of the National Lawyers Guild, and I'd put them in a prison in Guantánamo and I'd throw the key away." So it's a little amusing to see him so upset about his views not being welcome in Britain.
Savage also once reportedly compared Media Matters to HIV. And he lost his MSNBC television show when he told a caller to "get AIDS and die." That last one doesn't have much to do with Savage's latest outburst, though it does have to do with him being a world-class jerk.
Anyway, he's now threatening to sue Media Matters, which would be consistent with his history of suing his critics. His lawsuits don't tend to be successful in court, but maybe they help him feel like he has regained the "manhood" that he says the government "stole" from him.
In any case, Savage has a long and despicable history of making baseless and false allegations; it's nice to see that, for once, he admits he's making things up.
As I've been noting all day, it's becoming increasingly clear that the conservative opposition to Sotomayor's SCOTUS nomination has nothing to do with the law or her legal opinions. And I'm amazed the press hasn't pointed that out. Has there ever been an effort to thwart a Supreme Court nomination that had so little to do with the law before?
Anyway, I mentioned earlier a Politico report on the Sotomayor pushback which failed to note the obvious trend. (i.e The law has nothing to do with it.) Now there's an opinion piece in Politico penned by former Republican senator (and current Philadelphia Inquirer columnist ) Rick Santorum. It's headlined:
Why I would oppose Sotomayor
I foolishly assumed that Santorum would spell out why, if he were still in the U.S. Senate, he would vote against the Sotomayor nomination. I foolishly assumed Santorum's media column would highlight what troubled him about Sotomayor's legal record which would make her unqualified to sit on the Supreme Court.
Big mistake on my part. Santorum, in his Politico essay about why he would vote against Sotomayor, never even pretends to present a legal basis for his opposition. None. Zero. Zilch.
This is where the press has allowed the 'debate' about Sotomajor to go in just eight days time: Conservatives don't even bother to articulate a rationale legal reason why Sotomayor isn't qualified, yet the press still takes their opposition very, very seriously.
I know, I know, he's never going to 'blog' again. But still, the damage Rosen has already done to the Sotomayor 'debate' with his wildly irresponsible hit piece, which has now been turned into GOP talking points, is almost incalculable.
I bring Rosen up today because I just read this GOP dispatch from the Washington Independents David Weigel about disgraced Congressional staffer Manny Miranda and his hope that Sotomayor Borks herself at her confirmation hearings:
I asked Miranda about the basis of this theory after the luncheon. "I've read Jeff Rosen's piece ["The Case Against Sotomayor"]," he said, "and that's what I'm going on. I haven't met the lady." He added this to "what I've heard from practitioners on the second circuit, and they don't like her" and wondered if the coming American Bar Association survey of lawyers' opinions of Sotomayor could reflect all of this negative feedback.
"When that survey comes out, if it reflects Jeff Rosen's article, it could be pretty explosive. I think she she might want to take the committee on, to engage, in a Bork-like fashion. The more recent two [nominees] have been very disciplined, more controlled."
P.S. As I noted earlier today, the conservative movement's opposition to Sotomayor has virtually nothing to do with her legal opinions. (i.e. Miranda's betting she too emotional.) Question: How many weeks and months will it take before the press acknowledges that every odd fact?
Courtesy of NBC's Luke Russert:
Seeking to keep House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's back-and-forth with the CIA in the news ... House Minority Leader John Boehner once again called for a bipartisan investigation into Pelosi's allegations that the CIA deliberately misled her.
In a news conference on Capitol Hill, speaking for less than two minutes prior to taking questions, Boehner discussed nothing but Pelosi. ...
Continuing his criticism, Boehner remarked that Pelosi should "offer proof that intelligence officials lied to her or retract the statement and offer an apology."
Boehner then reiterated his previous call for a bi-partisan investigation into the issue saying, "This is a matter that is serious and requires a bi-partisan organization to get the facts." Later, Boehner went on to say: "I am disappointed House Democrats continue to stonewall this investigation and my hope is that the Speaker will step up and bring this issue to rest once and for all."
In response to a question regarding how he would continue to press the issue, Boehner said: "All options are on the table."
Russert didn't bother to mention that Boehner has previously opposed a formal investigation into the matter. Nor did he mention that Pelosi has called on the CIA to "release the briefings."
Most importantly, Russert failed to mention that Pelosi advocates a formal, bipartisan investigation into the Bush administration's use of torture -- and that Boehner opposes such an investigation. That's a pretty big omission, as it makes Boehner's claim to want to find out what Pelosi knew look empty and political.
Instead of mentioning any of that -- you know, performing an act of journalism -- Russert just typed up Boener's comments and slapped on a headline more fitting to a fanzine summary of a pro-wrestling match: "Boehner calls out Pelosi -- again."
Oh, Boehner "calls out" Pelosi, does he? How exactly does he "call her out"? By asking the CIA to release the briefings? Oh, wait -- that's what Pelosi has done. By supporting a formal investigation into the use of torture? Oh, wait -- that's what Pelosi has done, and what Boehner opposes.
Boehner hasn't "called out" anyone. He's performed a stunt, and gotten a rookie reporter to type up his comments without adding any context.
UPDATE: Russert seems to be on the coveted "follow John Boehner around and type up whatever he says" beat. Here are his last three entries on MSNBC's First Read:
Boehner calls out Pelosi -- again
Boehner slams Obama, Pelosi
GOP knocks public health care, Pelosi
None of the three contains so much as a word of critical assessment of what Boehner said, or a word of response from the Democrats. You would think that at some point, NBC News would realize they could save some money by just giving Boehner's press secretary the ability to post things to First Read directly.
As Media Matters notes, not that long ago pundit Carlson, like virtually all members of the conservative tribe, claimed that "dismissing your opponents by calling them racists and bigots" is "name calling" and "beneath contempt."
The GOP Noise Machine hated it whenever liberals (allegedly) played the race card. Pundits like Carlson decried the rhetorical practice as a cheap, emotional stunt designed to steer the conversation away from what really mattered.
And yes, this is the same Carlson who has been out in front of the Sotomayor's-a-racist bandwagon. So we'll wait to hear from Carlson as to why he once thought it was despicable to call a political opponent a racist, and why today he's going online and on TV to do that very thing. (i.e. Sotomayor's a "racist kook.")
We'd be especially curious to know if Carlson's recently penned contract with the far-right Fox News is responsible for this obvious flip-flop.
The conservative columnist actually sets out in the right direction with her column headlined:
It's Not Fair To Casually Call People Racist
The point seem blindingly obvious, but it's one that very few media people have been willing to make in the last seven days. But rather than take Limbaugh and Gingrich to task for their hateful "racist" rhetoric, Charen falls into the same predictable trap that every other Beltway player has and dutifully plays dumb about Sotomayor's "Latin woman" quote.
But this was the passage that really jumped out at me:
Nevertheless, the instant labeling of the woman, based on one unwise remark, is hardly fair. If Democrats are learning this now, that's excellent news. One hopes they will remember this discovery when the wheel turns and a Republican nominee is before the Senate. Certainly they didn't seem to get it as recently as 2002, when President Bush nominated Judge Charles Pickering to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
A-ha! Charen found an example from the recent past when a Republican president nominated a judge to the federal bench and Democrats casually, and incorrectly, labeled the judge a racist!
Slight problem: That's not what happened because that's not what Democrats did. At least Charen can't cite a single example of any Democrat ever calling Judge Pickering a "racist." (If she could, I assume Charen would have included the quote in her column.)
It's true there was a very heated debate about Pickering's civil rights record on the bench; a record that stretched back many, many years. But the Democratic attacks on Pickering were not built around a single sentence from a speech, the way the "racist" assault is being waged against Sotomayor and a speech she made in 2001. The concerns Democrats had about Pickering were based on his judicial record. Plus, Democrats never called Pickering a racist, the way right-wing pundits are denouncing Sotomayor.
So basically, there's no comparison between the two nominations, but Charen pretends there is.