Fox News' Bill Hemmer and The Washington Examiner's Byron York distorted federal appeals court nominee Goodwin Liu's record to paint him as out of the mainstream, with York suggesting that Liu supports reparations. However, neither York nor Hemmer noted that Liu has widespread support from across the political spectrum, including from former independent counsel Kenneth Starr and Bush administration lawyer John Yoo.
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York echoes baseless right-wing smear that Liu supports reparations
York: Liu "said a number of extraordinary things ... about reparations for slavery." On the April 7 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, York stated:
YORK: Well, Goodwin Liu is a legal superstar, former Rhodes Scholar, former clerk to Justice Ruth Bader-Ginsburg, 39 years old, viewed as a real superstar in Democratic legal circles, is very liberal on all of the social issues. He said a number of extraordinary things about racial preferences, about reparations for slavery, about welfare and about the role of the judiciary in general.
In fact, Liu's comments on slavery that conservative media have highlighted have been distorted. In suggesting that Liu supports reparations, York echoed Fox News host Bill O'Reilly, Fox Nation, and right-wing blogs, who have distorted comments Liu made during a 2008 discussion about the legacy of slavery. In the part of the discussion conservative media have highlighted, Liu did not advocate for reparations. Rather, he stated:
LIU: Then there's a further issue, which is that maybe there are white families who were not involved as directly or even indirectly with the slave trade, but who still benefited from it. And then there is the whole question, which you put on the table, about people who came to America after, and -- you know, like my family -- and why is it that this movie speaks to me, you know, so deeply yet?
And so, what I would do, is I think I would draw a distinction between a concept of guilt, which locates accountability in a sort of limited set of wrong-doers, and, on the other hand, a concept of responsibility, which is, I think, a more broad suggestion that all of us, whatever our lineage, whatever our ancestry, whatever our complicity, still have a moral duty to ... make things right. And that's a moral duty that's incumbent upon everybody who inherits this nation, regardless of whatever the history is.
And I think, you know, to add one more point on top of that, the exercise of that responsibility ... necessarily requires the answer to the question: "What are we willing to give up to make things right?" Because it's gonna require us to give up something, whether it is the seat at Harvard, the seat at Princeton, or is it gonna require us to give up our segregated neighborhoods, our segregated schools? Is it gonna require us to give up our money?
It's gonna require giving up something, and so until we can have that further conversation of what it is we're willing to give up, I agree that the reconciliation can't fully occur.
Later in the discussion, Liu said that "instead of looking for the single national strategy" on racial equality, people should "think about what you can do on a much smaller scale in much smaller communities, around specific problems that people face, whether it's in their schools, in their workplaces, access to health care, in their housing -- whatever it may be":
LIU: I think for a long time, the -- we have been entranced by a certain image of civil rights progress, which is an image that was forged during the 1960s in the wake of Brown versus the Board of Education and in a time when we had all three branches of the government -- the national government supportive of a general civil rights agenda. I don't see that happening in the near future, however 2008 turns out. And so, I'm not sure that we live in a time where we can transplant that model of national leadership to the present day.
Instead, I think I agree with Ruth's comment that if this conversation is going to happen, it's gotta happen in much more localized settings around problems of local concerns to people. And that is a -- you know, there's a kind of entropy to that because you can't completely manage it and you can't direct it, but since we have, you know, about 100 different funders out there in our audience, I would say that instead of looking for the single national strategy, which is what everybody always looks for, think about what you can do on a much smaller scale in much smaller communities, around specific problems that people face, whether it's in their schools, in their workplaces, access to health care, in their housing -- whatever it may be -- because unless it's framed around a specific problem, the conversation will just be that: conversation.
York and Hemmer do not note Liu has support from conservatives
York: "A number of Republicans suspect that [Liu] is trying to hide something." While discussing Liu's nomination, Hemmer noted opposition to the nomination from Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, stating that "all seven Republican members of that committee, on the Judiciary Committee, sign[ed] a letter that Liu failed to disclose more than 100 of his speeches to the committee." York stated that "a number of Republicans suspect that he is trying to hide something, because so many times, he has expressed opinions that are really pretty far on the liberal side of the spectrum." Neither Hemmer nor York, however, mentioned that Liu has support from a number of conservatives.
Starr: Liu "is exceptionally well-qualified to serve on the court of appeals." Starr, who investigated former President Bill Clinton, co-signed a March 19 letter to Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) that read: "[I]t is our privilege to speak to his qualifications and character, and to urge favorable action on his nomination." The letter continued: "Goodwin is a person of great intellect, accomplishment, and integrity, and he is exceptionally well-qualified to serve on the court of appeals."
Yoo: "[F]or a Democratic nominee, he's a very good choice." According to the Los Angeles Times, Yoo -- the Bush administration lawyer who authored the infamous torture memos -- said of Liu's nomination: "[H]e's not someone a Republican president would pick, but for a Democratic nominee, he's a very good choice."
Bolick on Liu: "I strongly support his nomination." In a letter to Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) about Liu's nomination to the Ninth Circuit, Goldwater Institute director Clint Bolick wrote: "Although Prof. Liu and I differ on some issues, I strongly support his nomination." Bolick continued: "Having reviewed several of his academic writings, I find Prof. Liu to exhibit fresh, independent thinking and intellectual honesty. He clearly possesses the scholarly credentials and experience to serve with distinction on this important court."
Guthrie: "More than an ideologue, I think he's a pragmatist." The Oakland Tribune reported that Liu has also received support from James Guthrie, education policy studies director at the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas. According to the Tribune, Liu and Guthrie served together on a task force on school finance. The article reported that Guthrie said: "I suppose in many ways we were ideologically opposed but not on this. ... On this one issue of national citizenship and using it for leverage for a national system of finance, he was really my partner on that, we worked hard together on it and I liked him. ... More than an ideologue, I think he's a pragmatist."