Kagan’s Palin Moment? White House Does Away With Journalists For Kagan’s First Interview as a Nominee

The White House appears to have found the solution to Sarah Palin’s problem with pesky press and embarrassing interviews. The White House posted Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan’s first “interview” on its website and decided it would be better without an actual journalist.

The White House press was interested in who got the first interview with Kagan who is facing challenges from both the left and right as well as questions over her views on terrorism and free speech. Kagan spoke at length and at ease about her childhood, parents and professional career — never fielding a single tough question or addressing a single pressing topic. At the White House briefing a reporter immediately noted “It appears that Solicitor General Kagan did an interview yesterday right after the president’s announcement. You’ve now posted that on the White House Web site. Who did the interview? And can I have one?”

Press Secretary Robert Gibbs responded “I think it’s — I think it’s on the website if you want to see it.” The reporter then pressed further and said “So a White House staffer interviewing her.” Gibbs responded yes. When the reporter asked whether Kagan has indicated her willingness to speak to a real live journalist, Gibbs responded “She has — she’s not told me that, no.”

The reporter simply responded “Tell her we’re deeply frustrated.”

In the past, nominees have given few interviews and have been largely kept away from the press, which is a bad tradition. While allowing off-the-record interviews with Senators, the American people are prevented from seeing these nominees questioned by independent journalists. In combination with the Ginsburg Rule (which allows nominees to refuse to answer many questions on their views), this press ban allows the White House to block any substantive discussion of how a nominee is likely to change the Court. Unlike Senators who radically distort or steadfastly block questions, reporters have the ability to press a nominee on such issues. After all, the public should have someone asking serious questions questions as some point before giving a person lifetime tenure on a Court of nine.

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31 thoughts on “Kagan’s Palin Moment? White House Does Away With Journalists For Kagan’s First Interview as a Nominee”

  1. I never understand why blogs like this allow right wing commenters to take over the comment section.

    After Professor Turley posted this note, the relevant question would be “How many Press interviews did the GOP nominated candidates do?”\\But rightwingers make Turley’s blog their own in the comment section. It is very much a Trotskyite tactic and their opinions show up as coming from Turley’s Blog when one googles “Elena Kagan”

    And the right winger even stocks Turley’s blog with footage from Fox News (sic).

  2. Has anyone asked her about her neocon cousins? She is supposedly the cousin of Arch Neocons, Robert and Frederick Kagan, whose father, Donald Kagan, was one of the Founding Fathers of the American Neocon Movement.

  3. “I’m very opposed to two government policies that directly violate our policy of nondiscrimination and directly impact our students,” stated Dean Kagan at the rally. “The first is ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell.’…. The second is the Solomon Amendment which effectively forces educational institutions to make exceptions to their nondiscrimination policy when it comes to the military and military recruitment.”

  4. In 1995 and 1996, future Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan was involved in a bizarre controversy in which the Clinton White House was accused of siding with an eco-terrorist group locked in a standoff with federal agents deep in the woods of Oregon. The incident led to an investigation by House Republicans, who concluded that a staffer on the White House Council on Environmental Quality tipped off the environmental radicals to impending action by U.S. Forest Service law enforcement agents — a leak that Forest Service officials believed endangered the lives of their agents on the ground.

    Kagan, at the time an associate White House counsel, had no role in leaking the feds’ plans to the radicals, but House Committee on Natural Resources investigators concluded she shirked her responsibility by not searching for the source of the leak or pushing for punishment of the leaker.

    “Nothing was ever done by Elena Kagan to learn the details about the leaks, or to identify the leaker and ensure that proper punishment occurred,” the committee’s 1999 report concluded. In fact, investigators found evidence suggesting that Kagan, in internal White House discussions, defended the alleged leaker.


  5. Jonathan – Steve Benen pointed out that SJC nominees do not, traditionally, do media interviews, prior to their confirmation hearing (lest give away ammo to use against them) … Of the more recent nominees (Roberts, etc), anyone of those do it different?

    Entirely separate matter of the Obama Team going with the Orwellian interview …


  6. GOP wants Clinton-era papers on Kagan
    Republicans’ demand reflects the Supreme Court nominee’s lack of a judicial track record that might reveal her leanings.

    Republicans hunting for clues about what kind of justice Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan would be said Tuesday they want to see papers from her time serving in the Clinton administration.

    The focus on Clinton-era documents reflects the GOP’s difficult task of turning up material that could power opposition to Kagan, the solicitor general who appears likely to be elevated to justice barring extraordinary developments during her confirmation process.

    “It is a confirmation, it’s not a coronation,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, which will hold hearings on Kagan’s nomination.


  7. Is Kagan a socialist like Obama bdaman? We know she is not a Muslim like you folks insist Obama is.

  8. I’m just putting the info out there Swathmore Mom and then the readers can decide. As Byron recently commented on another thread, he views me as a public service announcer. 🙂

  9. bdaman Limiting assault weapons is a good thing. Reading your posts is helping change my mind about Kagan.

  10. “We are taking the law and bending it as far as we can to capture a whole new class of guns.” Kagan wrote the Clinton ban on gun imports.

    The Chicago Tribune’s James Oliphant reports: “According to records at the William J. Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Ark., she also drafted an executive order restricting the importation of certain semiautomatic assault rifles.”

    When ban was announced, Clinton staffer Jose Cerda stated, “We are taking the law and bending it as far as we can to capture a whole new class of guns.” [Los Angeles Times, Oct. 22, 1997].

    The import ban was made permanent in the spring of 1998. Here’s an explanation I wrote, as part of an article on Rahm Emanuel for America’s 1st Freedom, which is a NRA member magazine:


  11. No it does not. I do not think a Jewish female who is possibly a lesbian would have been nominated to the court in Germany at that time.

  12. You don’t say. Reporters at the WH frustrated? I like this, reminds me of the RWR years where only pre-staged question became the vogue. Hmm, seemed like a right of the reporters to ask questions even pointed questions at that. Then see what happens, what we take as a given is taken away…..hmmm, does any of this remind you of Germany in the 20’s?

  13. Is Kagan running for office? Do you get to vote on her nomination? Is a media interview even appropriate for a Supreme Court nominee?

  14. “The reporter simply responded “Tell her we’re deeply frustrated.”

    Sounds good to me.

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