Megyn Kelly claimed that during Justice Samuel Alito's confirmation hearing, his wife, Martha-Ann, was "crying hysterically after Ted Kennedy made her cry." In fact, Martha-Ann Alito broke down in tears during a series of questions and comments by Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham.
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During the May 19 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, co-host Megyn Kelly claimed that during Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.'s confirmation hearing, his wife, Martha-Ann, was "crying hysterically after [Sen.] Ted Kennedy [D-MA] made her cry, because he was suggesting Sam Alito ... is a racist." Kelly also said, "I'll never forget Mrs. Alito crying. It was a terrible moment. It was a new low in the Senate Judiciary Committee." In fact, as Media Matters for America has noted, during the hearing, Democrats questioned Alito about his membership in the Concerned Alumni of Princeton, a now-defunct organization that opposed the school's increased admission of women and minorities; but it was during comments by Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham (SC) that Martha-Ann Alito broke down in tears.
Martha-Ann Alito's emotional response came immediately after this exchange:
GRAHAM: If you don't mind the suspicious nature that I have -- it's that you may be saying that because you want to get on the Supreme Court; that you're disavowing this now because it doesn't look good. And really, what I would look at to believe you're not -- and I'm going to be very honest with you -- is: How have you lived your life? Are you really a closet bigot?
ALITO: I'm not any kind of a bigot. I'm not.
GRAHAM: No, sir, you're not. And you know why I believe that? Not because you just said it -- but that's a good enough reason -- because you seem to be a decent, honorable man. ... Judge Alito, I am sorry that you've had to go through this. I am sorry that your family has had to sit here and listen to this.
Martha-Ann Alito left the hearing room. Despite the fact that her emotional response came not during the Democrats' questioning, but during Graham's characterization of the Democrats' questioning, numerous media outlets pounced on the incident to raise the question of whether Democrats on the committee -- by asking Alito about his membership in CAP -- "took this a step too far."
Founded amid the first enrollment of women to the school, CAP, according to People for the American Way, circulated a fundraising letter in 1973 that claimed that "a student population of approximately 40 percent women and minorities will largely vitiate the alumni body of the future." Alito listed his membership in the group on the "Personal Qualifications Statements" part of his 1985 application for the position of deputy assistant attorney general with the Reagan administration.
From the May 19 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
KELLY: Shannon, who, in their right mind, would go through this process? Who, in their right mind? Remember Mrs. Alito, crying hysterically --
SHANNON BREAM (Fox News Supreme Court reporter): I know.
KELLY: -- after Ted Kennedy made her cry, because he was suggesting Sam Alito, our latest Supreme Court justice, is a racist? Who --
BREAM: Yeah. It's --
KELLY: -- who would put themselves through this?
BREAM: It is a brutal --
KELLY: Are good people bowing out?
BREAM: Yeah. I mean, I have actually heard that there are people -- last time around under the Bush administration and this time as well -- there are people who are saying it would be the honor of a lifetime, but I don't want to go through this, and I don't want to put my name in there. I don't want to drag my family through this, either.
You only have to think of a Bork situation or even Justice Clarence Thomas. You mentioned, more recently, Justice Alito and his family.
BREAM: But, listen, the White House has already got someone in place, Stephanie Cutter, who's been a counselor to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. She is going to be the person, kind of the point-person, to shepherd this person through Capitol Hill, through the nomination process, through the confirmation. She is already been the person that's assigned. So, we don't have a nominee yet, but we know the person who will be guiding the nominee through this process, which, as you know, can get very rough, Megyn.
KELLY: Well, she -- I already feel sorry for the nominee, whoever it is. I really do.
BREAM: I do, too.
KELLY: I'll never forget Mrs. Alito crying. It was a terrible moment.
BREAM: It's tough.
KELLY: It was a new low in the Senate Judiciary Committee.