MSNBC guests skewed right during first day of Alito confirmation hearing


In the first four hours of MSNBC's January 9 coverage of the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr., the network featured interviews with Pat Buchanan, former RNC chairman Ed Gillespie, and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) -- but no Democratic or progressive commentators.

A Media Matters for America review of MSNBC's live coverage of the first day of Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr.'s confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on January 9 showed that in the initial four hours of coverage, from noon to 4 p.m. ET, the network featured interviews with MSNBC political analyst and former Republican presidential candidate Pat Buchanan; former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie, who has served as a White House adviser for Alito's nomination process; and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN). During that same time span, the network hosted no Democratic or progressive commentators.

In addition to Gillespie, Buchanan, and Frist, the network featured MSNBC chief White House correspondent Norah O'Donnell, who interviewed Buchanan three times; MSNBC Live anchor Chris Jansing, who interviewed Buchanan once; and NBC News chief justice correspondent Pete Williams. Media Matters previously noted instances in which Williams falsely suggested that Alito had followed a precedent set by Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor when he voted to uphold spousal notification requirements for abortion procedures and uncritically repeated an unfounded claim by Alito's supporters that his appellate rulings signal how he would rule on abortion rights if confirmed.

Media Matters has also noted that on November 1, 2005, Buchanan expanded upon a false claim made by MSNBC Hardball host Chris Matthews -- that a Democratic National Committee (DNC) memorandum released upon Alito's nomination accused Alito of being "soft" on the mob -- by claiming that the DNC memo accused Alito of having links to organized crime. In fact, the memo made neither claim.

Posted In
Government, Nominations & Appointments, The Judiciary
Supreme Court Nominations, Alito Nomination
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