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Howard Kurtz's Media Notes: Obama Administration Battles to Spin Sotomayor Pick

(By Gerald Herbert -- Associated Press)
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On MSNBC, Mark Whitaker, NBC's Washington bureau chief, said Sotomayor has a "very compelling life story" that will be "very hard . . . for the Republicans to attack." And CNN's Jeffrey Toobin said that "she doesn't look like a liberal firebrand."

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As the day wore on, Fox raised criticisms of Sotomayor more frequently than its cable rivals. The network played a YouTube video, circulating in recent weeks, in which Sotomayor said at a 2005 conference that the "Court of Appeals is where policy is made. I know this is on tape and I shouldn't say that," adding that she was not "promoting" such an activist approach.

Fox also kept returning to a 2001 speech in which Sotomayor said, "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life." Anchor Megyn Kelly said: "That sounds to a lot of people like reverse racism."

Some critics say Sotomayor's Hispanic heritage and modest background should play no role in judging her fitness for the high court. But after Sotomayor spoke of being raised by a single mother in the South Bronx, MSNBC's Chris Matthews said: "I would hate to be a senator on the Judiciary Committee who tried to give that person a hard time." CNN's Toobin declared: "That was the face of the new America." Fox's Brit Hume said a person with a "compelling personal story" had an advantage "because the public in America loves to see people who are in disadvantaged groups get ahead."

One hint that the coming media melodrama may lack tension: No television commentator predicted that Sotomayor would be defeated.

Howard Kurtz hosts CNN's weekly media program, "Reliable Sources."


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