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"Say Hello To Sam Alito"

Reported by Nancy - November 1, 2005 -

Those were Bill Hemmer's words yesterday (10/31), opening the last hour of FNL. Aside from multiple ALERTs about a copter crash in GA & a snarky segment by Anita Vogel trashing New Orleans about "mountains of trash," the bulk of the hour was devoted to providing viewers with a great deal of spin but very little substance related to Bush's most recent nominee.

Due to technical problems, I only have tape of the first 46 minutes of the last hour of the program, but here's an overview of the Alito-related segments during that time:

11:59am - Hemmer gave biref bio info on Alito (law degree from Yale, US Court of Appeals 3rd Circuit)

12:00pm - Molly Henneberg reported that Bush has nominated Judge Samuel Alito to SCOTUS (clip of Bush, clip of Alito), quoting Sens Frist (R-TN), Specter (R-PA), Schumer (D-NY).

12:02pm - Hemmer interviewed Sen Chuck Grassley (R-IA) who called Alito a "strict constructionist" & said he was "entitled to an up or down vote."

12:11pm - Hemmer said that Senate Dems are "already raising red flags" about Alito

12:15pm - Hemmer interviewed Sen Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) about Alito. Bingaman didn't have a lot to say, & while he tried to imply he was simply withholding judgement he came across as curiously unprepared & uncomfortable speaking on this topic.

12:21pm - Hemmer said that "today the White House steals the headlines back again" & interviewed Marvin Kalb (Fox News contributor). Kalb said the best way Bush could re-focus is to "start a real old-fashioned [political] brawl" & the nomination of Alito does that. Hemmer said that Charles Krauthammer (reactionary ideologue & Fox News analyst) wrote an article last week stating that Bush should "nominate excellence" & Kaln agreed this nomination does that, plus reconnects with his "conservative base." Kalb also pointed out that Bush "went to the right of Sandra Day O'Connor" in picking Alito.

12:29pm - teasers included: Alito

12:31pm - Hemmer interviewed Alan Zegas (NJ lawyer) & Adam Ciongoli (former clerk to Alito) both of whom coulden't find enough nice things to say about Alito (Ciongoli: "wonderful ... consdierate ... outstanding ... incredible background" & Zegas: "one of the finest judges I've ever met ... highly intelligent ... even-tempered, moderate, reserved ... all the qualities one would look for in a judge").

12:38pm - teasers included: Alito

12:46pm - teasers included: Alito

Comments: The "balance" is marginally better than it was last week -- approximately a 2:1 GOP:Dem ratio rather 4:1 -- but the "analysis" was about as lightweight as it's possible to get. Rather than asking friends & former law clerks for their opinions on Alito as a person, or a bloviator to discuss the political spin implications, why not ask someone like Judge Andrew Napolitano for an assessment of Alito's track record? Napolitano, himself a judge & a Fox News "legal analyst," could have provided some substance by reviewing Alito's rulings as a Federal judge for the past 15 years. Seems like substance isn't very important to FNL.

Here's Vogel's segment on NOLA:

12:35pm - Anita Vogel reported on "Happy Halloween from" NOLA, then showed video from celebrations last night on Bourbon Street (which she called "somewhat mediocre"); then she showed video of trash, debris & abandoned cars while commenting on the problems of cleaning up in the wake of Katrina.

Comment: Will someone please tell Fox it's okay to stop slamming NOLA now?

NOTE TO READERS: Please stay on topic (Alito's nomination, & FNL's coverage of it; or FNC's continued efforts to portray NOLA in the worst light possible). O/T comments will be deleted. Thanks.