The August 10 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume featured a segment by reporter Megyn Kendall on the ongoing controversy over a NARAL Pro-Choice America ad that criticizes Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr. for allegedly supporting violent anti-abortion protesters. The segment included comments from Barbara Comstock, former director of the Justice Department's Office of Public Affairs under Attorney General John Ashcroft. But Kendall failed to identify Comstock as a strategic adviser to Progress for America (PFA), a right-wing group actively campaigning for Roberts's confirmation. On August 9, the day after the NARAL Pro-Choice America ad was first released, Progress for America unveiled an ad defending Roberts, part of which was spotlighted during the Fox segment. In addition, PFA has launched a pro-Roberts website, and assembled a coalition of conservative groups to advocate for Roberts's confirmation.
During CNN's July 19 coverage of Roberts's nomination, Comstock appeared on CNN's NewsNight with Aaron Brown and defended Roberts as a "consensus, mainstream candidate" for the Supreme Court. CNN host Brown identified her as "a strategic adviser to Progress for America." The St. Petersburg Times referred to Comstock as an "attorney affiliated with the Republican-leaning group Progress for America" in a July 21 article, and C-SPAN has identified her as an "advisor for PFA." But during her August 10 appearance on Fox News, Comstock was identified only by the onscreen text "FMR JUSTICE DEPT OFFICIAL."
The segment can also be found on the Fox News website as an August 11 news story, titled "Groups Reject NARAL Characterization of Roberts."
From the August 10 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume:
KENDALL: The case, which went up to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1992, was about whether a 19th-century anti-discrimination law could be used to stop abortion protests. The solicitor general's office filed a friend of the court brief, arguing the law did not apply, maintaining such protests had nothing to do with gender discrimination, a position with which the Supreme Court agreed.
COMSTOCK [clip]: What they said, regardless of what your position is on abortion or abortion protesters, those who protest about the issue are not engaging in sex discrimination.
KENDALL: The ad's sponsor, NARAL Pro-Choice America, says, despite the ad's language, NARAL does not believe Judge Roberts condones clinic violence.
NANCY KEENAN (president of NARAL Pro-Choice America) [clip]: I know he said he finds bombing and murder abhorrent.
KENDALL: A point Roberts made clear at oral argument in the case, when he told the court the Justice Department did not support violent protests, saying, "The United States appears in this case not to defend petitioners' tortius" -- or improper -- "conduct but to defend the proper interpretation" of the statute. Still, NARAL says the position Roberts took paved the way for continued protests at a dangerous time for abortion clinics.
KEENAN: The groups he sided with were engaged in horrific, a horrific campaign of violence.
KENDALL: Roberts advocates were quick to respond. The conservative Progress for America unveiled an ad dismissing NARAL's assertion as part of a liberal witch hunt.
NARRATOR [clip of Progress for America ad]: A far-left Democratic group is making a desperate and false attack, recklessly distorting John Roberts' record.