Blitzer double standard: CNN host suggested Kennedy, but not Frist, was prejudging Alito nomination

››› ››› ANDREW SEIFTER

In an interview with Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) during CNN's live coverage of Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr.'s confirmation hearing, host Wolf Blitzer asked Kennedy: "It sounded, based on your opening statement, as if you have already made up your mind. You are going to oppose this nominee. Is that right?" Yet during a subsequent interview with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), Blitzer never questioned whether Frist had already decided how he was going to vote on the Alito nomination even though Frist repeatedly praised Alito.

In an interview with Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) during CNN's live coverage of Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr.'s January 9 confirmation hearing, Situation Room host Wolf Blitzer began by asking Kennedy: "It sounded, based on your opening statement, as if you have already made up your mind. You are going to oppose this nominee. Is that right?" Yet during a subsequent interview with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), Blitzer never questioned whether Frist had already decided how he was going to vote on the Alito nomination, even though Frist praised Alito as a "well-qualified man of high integrity" whose "mastery of the law" is "of the highest level."

From a special edition of CNN's The Situation Room during Alito's January 9 hearing:

BLITZER: I want to bring a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator -- Senator Ted Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts. He is taking a break from the hearing to join us now as well. Senator Kennedy, thanks very much.

It sounded, based on your opening statement, as if you have already made up your mind. You are going to oppose this nominee. Is that -- is that right?

KENNEDY: No, that's not true. I do think there's a steep hill for this nominee to climb. He's been on the Circuit Court of Appeals now for 15 years. He's written more than 300 cases. He has made numerous speeches. He has written articles. And I think, when you read those articles, read those speeches, and read the cases, you come to the conclusion that he has been, basically, hostile to individual rights before his court.

He has been very favorable to special interests. And he has also bent over backwards, in terms of executive power and police power. Those -- that's the -- that's not only my analysis. That's the analysis of The Washington Post, the Knight Ridder, the Alito Project up in -- up at Yale.

So these are the -- going to be the areas we are going to inquire of him.

[...]

BLITZER: Mr. Leader, thanks very much for joining us. Is it appropriate, and is it necessary, in your opinion, for this nominee to explain what he wrote in 1985, when he said the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion? The Democrats and some Republicans are going to press him on that, including the chairman of this committee, Senator Arlen Specter [R-PA]. Is it appropriate for him to go and explain what his personal views are on abortion?

FRIST: Wolf, I think anything is fair game, in terms of -- of questions. And I think a lot of people are -- are waiting, with appropriate anticipation, to see how well he does in the questioning which is playing out behind me right now and will over the next several days.

I think it is clear, because he has not just this most recent American Bar Association recommendation of its highest rating, but, also, 30 years, as you point out, of public service in various capacities, which leaves a lot of room for Democrats and Republicans and the chairman of the committee, as you mentioned, to look at, what is this man's character? What is his integrity? What are his qualifications? What is his mastery of the law, which, I can say it is -- it is of the highest level. But we are going to see it play out in the next several days.

And I think, yes, and people go back to the 19 -- early 1990s, 1980s. And, as you know, over the last several weeks, people are going back into the late '60s and early '70s. And I'm sure all of that will be brought up. I am confident, because of his qualifications, his integrity, his judicial temperament, that his colleagues that we will hear about over the next couple of days, people like Judge [Edward] Becker, who know him the best, will lay out. He will -- is eminently qualified.

[...]

FRIST: I am absolutely convinced that, if we do -- do this in a civil and a dignified way, and give him an up-or-down vote on the floor of the United States Senate, that this well-qualified man of high integrity will be confirmed.

Posted In
Government, Nominations & Appointments, The Judiciary
Network/Outlet
CNN
Person
Wolf Blitzer
Show/Publication
The Situation Room
Stories/Interests
Supreme Court Nominations, Alito Nomination
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