Summary: In the first four hours of MSNBC's January 9 coverage of the
confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr., the network
featured interviews with Pat Buchanan, former RNC chairman Ed Gillespie, and
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) -- but no Democratic or progressive
A Media Matters for America review of MSNBC's live coverage of the first day of
Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr.'s confirmation hearing before the Senate
Judiciary Committee on January 9 showed that in the initial four hours of coverage,
from noon to 4 p.m. ET, the network featured interviews with MSNBC political analyst
and former Republican presidential candidate Pat Buchanan; former Republican National
Committee chairman Ed Gillespie, who has served as a White House adviser for Alito's
nomination process; and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN). During that
same time span, the network hosted no Democratic or progressive commentators.
In addition to Gillespie, Buchanan, and Frist, the network featured MSNBC chief
White House correspondent Norah O'Donnell, who interviewed Buchanan three times;
MSNBC Live anchor Chris
Jansing, who interviewed Buchanan once; and NBC News chief justice correspondent
Pete Williams. Media Matters previously noted instances in which Williams
falsely suggested that
Alito had followed a precedent set by Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor
when he voted to uphold spousal notification requirements for abortion procedures
and uncritically repeated
an unfounded claim by Alito's supporters that his appellate rulings signal how
he would rule on abortion rights if confirmed.
Media Matters has also noted
that on November 1, 2005, Buchanan expanded upon a false claim made by MSNBC
Hardball host Chris Matthews -- that a Democratic National Committee
(DNC) memorandum released upon Alito's nomination accused Alito of being "soft"
on the mob -- by claiming that the DNC memo accused Alito of having links to
organized crime. In fact, the memo made neither claim.