Fox News featured extended commentary by C. Boyden Gray in its initial coverage of the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, identifying Gray as a "Fox Supreme Court Analyst." But how can Fox News hire as a "Supreme Court analyst" someone who also founded the Committee For Justice -- a group committed to ensuring the confirmation of President Bush's judicial nominees -- without disclosing the conflict to its viewers?
A May 24 Washington Post profile of Gray explained that White House senior adviser Karl Rove encouraged Gray to form the Committee for Justice to raise money to wage confirmation battles:
Every Monday morning for months, veteran Washington lawyer C. Boyden Gray has plotted strategy via a conference call with the heads of groups that want to ease the confirmation of President Bush's judicial nominees. He has also spent many hours raising millions of dollars for the cause ... Gray was recruited for the task of fighting judicial filibusters two years ago by Republican Sen. Trent Lott. ... Gray formed the Committee for Justice with the additional encouragement of Karl Rove, Bush's top political strategist, and set about the difficult job of raising funds from corporate sources.
Gray and the Committee for Justice have stated their explicit goal to shape media coverage of Supreme Court retirements and nominations, as the Post reported on June 29:
Now, Gray is chairman of the Committee for Justice, which he founded three years ago to pressure senators to approve the president's nominees. If Rehnquist steps down, the group plans to orchestrate tributes to him for conservatively interpreting the Constitution and promoting religious freedom, saying that this record needs to be extended and enhanced by a like-minded nominee. The group also plans to feed research to conservative bloggers so they can fact-check and counter opponents' claims.
"Our goal is to not let their analysis or spin become defining, and put them on the defensive," said Sean Rushton, spokesman for Committee for Justice.