Aug
01
2010

Finishing School for Elena Kagan

Policing the gender and sexuality of a high court nominee

When Barack Obama nominated Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, her status as an unmarried professional woman did not go unnoticed—nor did her disregard for stereotypically “feminine” dress and behavior. Policing of Kagan’s gender and sexuality worked its way through the media like a whispering campaign, proving that conforming to rigid gender norms is still an expectation for smart, powerful women. On April 15, CBSNews.com re-printed an opinion article originally published on the website of right-wing blogger Benjamin Domenech (New Ledger, 4/11/10). In the piece, Domenech wrote that Kagan was “openly gay” yet somehow “still closeted,” claiming that […]

May
14
2010

Glenn Greenwald and Marjorie Cohn on the Elena Kagan nomination

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Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: Barack Obama has announced his pick for Supreme Court justice—former Harvard Law School dean and Solicitor General Elena Kagan. And the media debates have begun: about her record, her credentials and her likely impact on the court. We'll sort through some of what you're hearing and perhaps what you aren't hearing in a conversation with court watchers Glenn Greenwald, of Salon.com and author and law professor Marjorie Cohn. That's coming up but first, as usual, we'll take a look back at the week's press. —With a story like the ongoing environmental disaster in the […]

Jan
29
2010

Charlie Cray on Supreme Court election ruling, Mark Weisbrot on Haiti

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Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: The Supreme Court ruled 5-to-4 that corporations may not be limited in their spending to influence elections, because they have the same free speech rights as people. Among the many questions raised are not just what this means for elections, but what it means for "free" speech. We'll hear from Charlie Cray of the Center for Corporate Policy on that story. Also on the program: Amidst the misery, there are a many feel-good stories being reported in the U.S. press about the American role in attempting to bring relief to Haiti. But not all […]

Dec
01
2009

Not So Fast, Filibuster

Quietly changing the rules of democracy

The United States has made a dramatic change in its system of governance—with little debate or even attention paid in corporate media. The change is the vastly increased importance of the filibuster, a parliamentary maneuver that allows a minority of lawmakers—under current Senate rules, 41 out of 100—to indefinitely extend debate and prevent a final vote. Once a curiosity invoked a handful of times during any two-year congressional session, the filibuster became more common starting in the 1970s; in the Clinton administration and early in the George W. Bush years, the Senate had to move to take a vote on […]

Jul
01
2009

Misjudging Sotomayor Coverage

Not much of a case for left-wing media bias

[See also the sidebar to this piece, Sotomayor vs. Bork: NYT by the Numbers]   Writing about Barack Obama’s nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, Politico’s Mike Allen (5/27/09) declared: The media’s left-of-center bias is rarely more apparent than during court fights. The coverage running up to the pick was slanted heavily toward the notion of how “pragmatic” Obama’s legal views are and how unlikely he was to pick a liberal. Coverage of Supreme Court fights is one of the best illustrations of corporate media’s supposed lean to the left? Only three of the current justices had […]

Jul
01
2009

Sotomayor vs. Bork

NYT by the Numbers

Sonia Sotomayor--Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/Talk Radio News Service

[Note: This piece is a sidebar to Misjudging Sotomayor Coverage] Following President Barack Obama’s announcement of Judge Sonia Sotomayor as his nominee for the Supreme Court, Extra! compared the New York Times National Desk’s coverage of the two weeks following Sotomayor’s nomination (5/27/09-6/10/09) to the first two weeks of coverage of Ronald Reagan Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork (7/1-14/87). Both nominations were reported as controversial—Bork’s nomination was ultimately rejected by the Senate—and the Times devoted 36 stories to Sotomayor and 25 stories to Bork in the two weeks after each pick was announced. (The paper’s coverage of Sotomayor was more […]

Jun
05
2009

Fred Clarkson on Tiller murder; Adam Serwer on Sotomayor

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Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: There’s been a lot of coverage of the murder of Dr. George Tiller, allegedly killed by and anti-abortion activist. But there has been relatively little discussion of the culture that such violence arises from, where mainstream anti-abortion figures regularly demonize abortion providers—and we’re not just talking about Bill O’Reilly. We’ll talk to Fred Clarkson, who has been monitoring and writing about anti-abortion violence for years. Also on the show: As the vetting process of prospective Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor goes forward, Americans can be forgiven for not actually knowing very much specific about […]

Jun
02
2009

Misquoting Sotomayor

Media let right-wing critics frame debate

At this point, the confirmation battle over Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor will hinge in part on whether the media want to fact-check her critics. So far, the press is largely failing. Right-wing critics and politicians have been circulating comments Sotomayor made in 2001 at UC Berkeley. One quote has been replayed endlessly: "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life." (Sometimes the quote is replayed without the "I would hope that" qualifier--e.g., NBC Nightly News, […]