Back in 2016 and early 2017, Fox News was the self-satisfied house to a good deal of principled thinking of the significance of the American people’s will.
Here, for instance, was Laura Ingraham, voicing her approval of Senate Bulk Leader Mitch McConnell’s machinations to bypass Obama nominee Merrick Garland and get conservative justice Neil M. Gorsuch onto the Supreme Court bench after Trump’s election:
” The last 70 years, a Supreme Court justice was not validated in the final year of a president’s term,” preached the future Fox host, then a frequent visitor on “Hannity.” She worried that it “does not matter” to left-leaning partisans. This was lofty-sounding but wrong: To choose just among numerous examples to the contrary, the Democratic-controlled Senate all confirmed President Ronald Reagan’s election of Anthony M. Kennedy in early 1988, an election year.
Fox hosts Sean Hannity and Dana Perino, too, indicated their approval of stonewalling Obama’s nomination pick.
” You know, it’s intriguing– what goes around, occurs,” Hannity suggested, pointing out McConnell’s citation of the supposed “Biden guideline” to justify the relocation. “Why should the Republicans act any various?”
There was no such guideline, though: Joe Biden, as a senator from Delaware in 1992, had been talking about, in a 1992 speech, “a hypothetical situation involving a voluntary resignation, not a death, that never ever came to pass,” as Matt Gertz of Media Matters pointed out.
Such high-mindedness remained in brief supply throughout Fox’s popular opinion segments on Friday night. While Fox’s news team provided ample attention to the life and career of the just-deceased Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and TELEVISION news across the spectrum discussed the most likely next maneuvers in filling her vacancy, nothing was as raw as the remarks by conservative activist Ned Ryun.
” This is a chance, and I state they seize the moment,” advised Ryun, founder of the grass-roots candidate-training factory American Bulk, in an interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, barely an hour after news broke of Ginsburg’s death.
For his part, Carlson did have the grace to suggest it might be well to tone things down in those preliminary hours and wait a bit to respect Ginsburg’s memory. But he likewise tossed doubt on a reputable report that Ginsburg had revealed her “most fervent desire” that the next president would select her replacement.
” It’s tough to think, and I’m going to choose not to think that she stated that, due to the fact that I do not think that individuals on their deathbeds are considering who’s president. You hope not– that’s a quite minimal way to think as you die. However definitely this will be used as a cudgel by the left.”
The issue is that her words, according to NPR’s reporting, were not said in her final hours however a couple of days earlier in a discussion with her grandchild.
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Fox News, though, wasn’t the only place to discover tortured reasoning and misrepresentations.
” Ted Cruz with an excellent point,” tweeted Marc Thiessen, the American Enterprise Institute fellow and Washington Post columnist. “If election is litigated can’t risk having just 8 justices and the possibility of a deadlocked court. Could cause a constitutional crisis.”
There were thousands of retweets and likes, however a variety of individuals who pointed out that Cruz and Thiessen appear to have short memories. After all, there was an ideologically split eight-member court in November of 2016– for the very factors talked about above. (Also, if you’re stressed over a constitutional crisis, how about an election settled with the help of a justice Trump just appointed?)
In coming days, you can be sure to hear and check out such things as the “Thurmond guideline,” the “McConnell Guideline,” the “Biden rule”– none of which exist in law, and sometimes not even in writing. At many, they are conventions, not rules.
( According to the Brookings Organization, Strom Thurmond, the longtime senator from South Carolina who chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee, is credited with an “unwritten admonition” that “in presidential election years, the Senate needs to stop processing judicial nominations around the time of its summertime recess, maybe with minimal exceptions for plainly non-controversial candidates.”)
There’s no reason to believe that the pro-Trump media and conservative politicians will have a monopoly on self-serving reason in coming days. It’s most likely to be a dysfunctional circus.
The media– of all stripes– could avoid making it worse by preserving a level tone, by not twisting the truths for the sake of partisanship, and by pushing back versus misrepresentations.
Based on the initial hours after Justice Ginsburg’s death, that’s going to be an unreasonably high bar.
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