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Bloviators on Parade

Reported by Nancy - September 13, 2005 -

Today (9/13) on FNL, the last hour of the program was largely a live broadcast of the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearing on Judge John Roberts's nomination to be Chief Justice of SCOTUS. Unfortunately, as soon as there was a break in the proceedings, the talking heads took over & turned it into a traditional Foxian "let's-bash-some-Dems" fest.

At 12:48pm (EDT) when the Judiciary Committee broke for lunch, FNL went to a panel hosted by Chris Wallace while continuing to show video of the hearing room as people filed out. The "panel" consisted of Brit Hume (anchor of FNC's "Special Report with Brit Hume", the lead-off program of FNC's prime-time lineup) & Megyn Kendall (Fox reporter who focuses on legal affairs, with special emphasis on SCOTUS).

Brit Hume characterized Sen Joe Biden (D-DE) as "prone to being windy" & said that Biden & Sen Ted Kennedy (D-MA) were "trying to score points here" but that "might turn the tide of public opinion." Megyn Kendall, a lawyer herself, was more terse & factual. Wallace claimed that the only time Sen Arlen Specter (R-PA) "felt the need to interpose himself" in the proceedings was to admonish Dems to let Roberts finish his answers. Hume agreed, & said "you ought to at least give the person a chance to answer". Hume also characterized the Dem senators as Roberts's "antegonists" & said "they were trying to draw him into an area ... where he was reluctant" to speak Wallace bloviated a bit about the "Ginsburg rule" & noted that Justice Ginsburg did answer questions about the death penalty & other topics on which she had written. Hume said that Roberts "is trying ... to engage with the Senators so that he is responsive" & added that questions from Specter were "quite probing, by the way."

At 12:57pm there was a brief report from Brian Wilson, who was in the room where the hearing was being held. Wilson said this hearing was "very different" than hearings he'd covered in the past, then showed his blackberry & commented on the info Dems were "telegraphing" to everyone. He also said there was a "bazaar" outside the hearing room where anyone walking by got showered with paper from groups like the Federalist Society & People for the American Way. Wilson briefly described the Dem & GOP "war rooms".

Wallace asked his panel for the "bottom line". Kendall said that Roberts "did well." Hume was more windy, saying that Roberts "did not endorse a controversial right to privacy" & "did not fall into the trap" that Robert Bork had fallen into.

Comments: Props to FNL for carrying the hearing live. It's when they went to the talking-head "analysis" afterwards that the usual problems immediately cropped up. Note that the questioning of Roberts by GOP Senators was not discussed, nor was an opinion solicited from someone not on the FNC payroll. I also found it interesting that Brian Wilson did NOT characterize the lobbying groups in the "bazaar" outside the hearing room as "special interest groups" (one of FNC's favorite labels for lobbyists) -- perhaps because there are groups like the Federalist Society involved?

NOTE TO READERS: Please stay on topic (FNL's choice of bloviators, those bloviators' comments, the hearing itself). O/T comments will be deleted. Thanks.

SPECIAL NOTE to anyone tempted to draw comparisons to what CNN & MSNBC did or did not do during this hour: I really, really don't care what any other cable or broadcast network did or didn't do. That is O/T, as far as I'm concerned. You're welcome to use the O/T Forum to discuss other networks.