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Fox’s Megyn Kelly Dodges Issues About Anti-Sotomayor Witness, Allows Discussion To Turn Into Democrat-Smearing Session Instead

Reported by Ellen - July 14, 2009 -

During their special coverage of the Sotomayor confiration hearings yesterday (7/13/09), Fox News’ Megyn Kelly held a not-so-balanced discussion about the upcoming testimony of New Haven firefighter Frank Ricci in the proceedings. Ricci, you’ll probably recall, was the lead plaintiff in the reverse discrimination case just won in the US Supreme Court after it overturned a decision signed by Sonia Sotomayor. He’s the guy Sean Hannity and his ilk have been holding up as the white Rosa Parks as part of their effort to paint Sotomayor as some kind of reverse racist. Well, it turns out Ricci has a rather lengthy history of filing employment discrimination complaints, including his first lawsuit against the City of New Haven – in which he claimed to have been discriminated against because he’s dyslexic. That’s right, the right’s standard bearer against affirmative action was for it before he was against it. So how did Kelly deal with this new information? By turning to a single, very biased guest - Ricci’s lawyer - and then allowing her to change the subject by gratuitously attacking Democrats and liberals. With video.

A revealing article in Slate details Ricci’s long list of lawsuits and threatened lawsuits against his employers. Author Dahlia Lithwick concludes,

Ultimately, there are two ways to frame Frank Ricci's penchant for filing employment discrimination complaints: Perhaps he was repeatedly victimized by a cruel cadre of employers, first for his dyslexia, then again for his role as a whistle-blower, and then a third time for just being white. If that is so, we should all be deeply grateful for the robust civil rights laws that protect Americans from unfair discrimination in the workplace. I look forward to hearing Republican Sen. John Cornyn's version of that speech next week.

The other way to look at Frank Ricci is as a serial plaintiff—one who reacts to professional slights and setbacks by filing suit, threatening to file suit, and more or less complaining his way up the chain of command. That's not the typical GOP heartthrob, but I look forward to hearing Sen. Cornyn's version of that speech next week as well.

Unfortunately, my recorder missed the beginning of Kelly’s introduction to the discussion but it’s still clear that she framed the segment as “liberals attacking Ricci” rather than any serious questioning of Ricci’s record.

Kelly opened the interview by reading the two paragraphs I excerpted above, minus the parts about Cornyn and the "typical GOP heartthrob."

Torre never rebutted Lithwick’s reporting, never explained Ricci’s incongruent behavior but immediately began smearing, a tactic she kept up throughout the rest of the interview. “Dahlia Lithwick, despite trying to pass herself off as a mainstream Supreme Court analyst, has done nothing but take sides with the City of New Haven and write a lot of misleading articles about our case. I actually called her on it by sending her emails but she wouldn’t even report the facts accurately. But she ignored those emails.” Torre went on to play the race card by whining that Lithwick had never criticized any of the “hundreds” of other lawsuits by African Americans and “organized interest groups” around the country.

Nice job of changing the subject! So did Kelly point out that the issue was not suing for discrimination per se but the inconsistency (some might say hypocrisy) of Ricci’s history with his current role as affirmative action foe? Did she press Torre to explain what details in Ricci’s history Lithwick got wrong? No. Kelly didn’t even correct Torre’s misleading statement, “Frank Ricci filed two lawsuits and both of them he won!” Kelly didn’t point out that, according to Lithwick, in addition to the lawsuits Torre cited, Ricci had also filed a complaint for being wrongfully terminated from the Middletown fire department (he lost that appeal), that he followed that up by threatening to sue in civil court, and that he had settled a dispute over access to his former boss’ professional training records one week before a Freedom of Information Commission was to take up the issue.

Instead, Kelly helpfully noted, “Frank was not the only plaintiff in this case.”

Torre repeated her misleading claim that Ricci had twice sued and twice prevailed (again without clarification from Kelly), then turned on her fellow Americans. “Why would any American, especially liberals, who purport to champion civil rights, have a problem with that?”

“Certainly the United States Supreme Court saw it Frank’s way,” Kelly said, underscoring her chummy feelings toward Ricci by repeatedly calling him “Frank.”

And instead of probing the issue of Ricci’s credibility and probity any further, Kelly opened the door and all but asked Torre to further attack the left and Democrats. “Does this remind you at all of what happened to Joe The Plumber… (who) became a target for some on the left? … Are you surprised… to find out that Frank Ricci, your client is now being a target as well?”

“I am not at all surprised, Megyn… I think if this shows Americans anything, it is the complete and utter hypocrisy of the left and liberals in this country. They are unquestionably vicious. And they’re the ones who purport to be the nice people and they always slant conservatives as somehow being unfeeling or cold or not… predisposed toward being tolerant towards other people. These people are vicious. And I think it’s a good thing for Americans to realize it’s exactly the kind of people that we’ve put in control of the American government right now.”

Kelly had no objection to that hate screed that had absolutely nothing to do with Ricci’s credibility. She offered this lame “balance” that wound up attacking the left while feigning to offer their point of view: “In defense of the left, so far, it doesn’t seem to be gaining traction. I mean, it’s this left-wing group, People for the American Way, and it’s Slate, which we know leans left. We certainly didn’t hear anything like that from any of the Democratic senators.”

Kelly concluded by asking if “Frank” would still be testifying. After being told he would, Kelly added one final endorsement of his testimony: “Well, we will be watching as, I think, many Americans will be, perhaps more than even before, when (Ricci and his fellow plaintiffs) take the stand to offer their thoughts on this confirmation hearing.”