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FOX News Ignores Frist Hypocrisy

Reported by Ellen - April 29, 2005

A FOXNews.com article called Frist Offers Plan To End Filibusters paints Senator Bill Frist as a man opposed to filibusters on the basis of Constitutional principles trying to find a way out of the logjam created by the obstructionist Democrats. Not reported is Frist's own obstructionist behavior now and during the Clinton administration. Frist never made a peep about Constitutional principles when Senate Republicans blocked a far greater number of Clinton nominees. But that point seems to have been lost on FOXNews.com.

Early in the article, FOX quotes Frist as saying, "'Resolving the judicial obstruction debate, for me, isn't about politics. This is about constitutional principles. It's about fairness to nominees. It's about senators doing their duty and doing what's right for our country,' Frist said on the Senate floor. 'This offer will ensure up or down votes on judicial nominees after fair, open, and, some might say, exhaustive debate. It's a compromise that holds to constitutional principles.'"

"Real Journalism, Fair and Balanced" FOX doesn't report that Frist's own history contradicts this "principled" stance. As reported by mediamatters.org, "This same Senator Frist voted against cloture on Clinton judicial nominee Richard A. Paez in 2000, thus preventing a floor vote."

Instead, FOX reporter Sharon Kehnemui Liss gives us more Fristspeak, unexamined:

"Throughout this debate, we have held firm to a simple principle - judicial nominees deserve up or down votes. Vote for them. Vote against them. But give them the courtesy of a vote," Frist said from the Senate floor.

"Yet judicial nominees have not been given that courtesy. They've gone two, three, even four years without a vote. Now 46 seats on the federal bench are vacant - as case after case and appeal after appeal stack up," he continued.

..."Resolving the judicial obstruction debate, for me, isn't about politics. This is about constitutional principles. It's about fairness to nominees. It's about senators doing their duty and doing what's right for our country."

Ms. Liss doesn't bother to mention that just one day earlier, Frist flatly refused to consider a Democratic offer to resolve the "obstruction." Nor does she bother to mention that only 10 of Bush's 229 nominations were blocked by the Democrats. According to the Washington Post the number of confirmations "exceeds in most cases the first-term experience of presidents dating to Ronald Reagan." Also unreported is that approximately three times as many more Clinton nominees were blocked (albeit via a different tactic) from reaching a floor vote. The only historical context provided by Liss is one that - not surprisingly - is unflattering to a Democrat. Liss reports that Senator Barbara Boxer calls her 1993 vote to end filibusters "misguided."

Liss reports that Frist's offer would "guarantee an up or down vote on nominees to the circuit courts and the Supreme Court. District court nominees would not be affected by the plan. For each nominee, the Senate would permit up to 100 hours of debate to allow every member to have his or her say. The plan would also apply only to judicial nominees and not to legislative matters." She tells us that Minority Leader Harry Reid calls Frist's plan a "slow-motion nuclear option" that "would not allow (Democrats) to enjoy their advise and consent function outlined in the Constitution, which permits them to reject the president's nominees." But she never makes it explicitly clear that Frist's plan gives Democrats more speaking time but removes all their other power on appeals and Supreme Court nominees.

Other important details not included in this story or anywhere else on FOXNews.com that I could find: According to the AP (a wire service used extensively on FOXNews.com), Princeton students held a filibuster of their own outside the Frist Campus Center, built with the help of $25 million from the Frist family, at Frist's alma mater. "Since Tuesday, students and local activists have been giving lengthy talks outside the university's Frist Campus Center protesting the Tennessee Republican's threat to change Senate rules to prevent Democrats from using the filibuster to block President Bush's judicial nominees."

Also omitted is a recent poll showing that 66% of Americans oppose changing the Senate rules to eliminate filibusters.

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