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Fox News Plays The Race Card Against Sotomayor And Obama

Reported by Ellen - May 26, 2009 -

Earlier today, Rush Limbaugh called Judge Sonia Sotomayor, just nominated by President Obama to the U.S. Supreme Court, "a reverse racist," appointed by "the greatest living example of a reverse racist.” In synch with Limbaugh, albeit more delicately, Live Desk repeatedly suggested Sotomayor and Obama were racists because a) Sotomayor has said that gender and national origin play a role in judging; and b) Obama said that her “personal story” matters. But later, they took it a step further by distorting Sotomayor's comments about the role of ethnicity and gender in judging and then legitimizing Limbaugh's charge by playing the clip of his accusations and asking their guest for a reaction. Updated: Sotomayor's comments were made while discussing the importance of diversity in race and sex discrimination cases. With video.

In a discussion with former New York State judge Leslie Crocker-Snyder and political scientist Larry Sabato, host Martha MacCallum questioned whether it was appropriate to bring cultural identity and sex “into the process of judging.”

Crocker-Syder said that all judges bring in their personal experiences but “the main thing is that you follow the rule of law at the end of the day.” She added, “There's no reason to believe that soon-to-be Justice Sotomayor won't follow the law.”

MacCallum pressed the issue by saying, “There's been a lot of focus on a couple of comments that Sotomayor has said and one of them was that she felt that a Latina woman could make a better judgment than a white man.”

Actually, as far as I can tell, that's not what Sotomayor said. She said, “I would hope (my emphasis) 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.” She went on to say she tried to question her own “opinions, sympathies and prejudices,” and aspired to impartiality. But that part of her statement was left out of “fair and balanced” Fox News' perspective.

Furthermore, as Media Matters pointed out, Sotomayor's remark was made while talking about the significance of race and gender in judges deciding cases involving race and gender issues. She also went on to acknowledge that race and gender are not absolutely determinative. "I... believe we should not be so myopic as to believe that others of different experiences or backgrounds are incapable of understanding the values and needs of people from a different group. Many are so capable. As Judge Cedarbaum pointed out to me, nine white men on the Supreme Court in the past have done so on many occasions and on many issues including Brown (vs. Board of Education)."

While disregarding Sotomayor's actual words and their context, MacCallum went on to play Limbaugh's inflammatory take. “I just want to get both of your thoughts on it,” MacCallum said, giving it immediate credibility.

Limbaugh was shown saying on his radio show, “Here you have a racist. You might, you might want to soften that and you might want to say a 'reverse racist' ...Obama is the greatest living example of a reverse racist and now he's appointed one, Sonia Sotomayor, to the Supreme Court.”

MacCallum never questioned anything Limbaugh said but when Crocker-Syder said she thinks Limbaugh is a racist, MacCallum asked, “Why?”

As Crocker-Snyder continued by saying that there is nothing to suggest that Sotomayor is a racist, MacCallum interrupted. “The question is... when you say 'as a Latino woman, I would make a better judgment than a white male'... if you reversed that – if a white male came out and said, 'as a white man, I am capable of making a better judgment than a Latino woman,' - so when you judge it on that merit, is that a racist statement?”

Crocker-Snyder said the statement needed to be looked at in context, which MacCallum did not provide. Instead, MacCallum went on to ask, “Is that a wise thing to say as a judge?”