A little more than a month on from the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died on September 18 at age 87 from complications related to metastatic pancreatic cancer, her seat on the court has now been swiftly filled. The high-stakes process unfolded at a breakneck pace, though the outcome was never really in doubt, thanks to an incumbent President Trump who needed the win going into a bruising re-election fight against Joe Biden next week that most every poll shows him losing. And with Republicans in control of the Senate, that ensured the confirmation of Trump nominee Amy Coney Barrett was always a foregone conclusion.
Indeed, Barrett’s confirmation by the upper chamber of Congress was finalized on Monday via a party-line vote of 52-48, which was followed by a ceremonial swearing-in on the White House grounds conducted by Justice Clarence Thomas at which President Trump also delivered some opening remarks. Given that the whole thing took place a week out from what’s already shaping up to be the most contentious presidential election in recent memory, the whole affair unsurprisingly had a frantic, hyper-partisan feel to it, with the president teeing up raucous applause lines in the style of his campaign rallies by way of setting the stage for Barrett’s swearing-in.
There! I did it! Are you happy? the president seemed to be signaling to the vocal, rock-solid conservative bloc of the American electorate that mostly supports him — but which seems to have gone a little wobbly in the waning days of the campaign, if you believe the polls.
“This is a momentous day for America, for the United States Constitution, and for the fair and impartial rule of law,” Trump said during his opening remarks at Monday’s ceremony.
Any way you look at it, this was a consequential achievement for the president and for his party, which over the last four years has succeeded in adding now three hard-line conservative jurists to the nation’s highest court. All of them barely into middle age and situated to now cast a long shadow over US jurisprudence for years — decades, most likely.
Conservative Twitter, right-wing media and assorted pundits in the Trump orbit have all spent the past 24 hours pointing to the Barrett news to declare yet another grievance against their favorite bite noire during the campaign season — the mainstream media. The specific focus of their grumbling has been the two networks that chose not to carry Barrett’s confirmation, CNN and MSNBC (which Trump consistently derides as “MSDNC” on the campaign trail, owing to the network’s left-leaning bent).
“CNN and MSNBC chose not to air the historic vote in the Senate that confirmed Barrett as the 115th justice and only the fifth woman to the Supreme Court. The vote resulted in 52-48 with Maine Sen. Susan Collins as the sole Republican to join Democrats in opposition.
Both networks largely covered Barrett’s confirmation through the prism of the coronavirus outbreak with CNN anchors shaming the Trump administration for hosting a celebration at the White House following the previous event commemorating Barrett’s nomination, which has been widely referred to as a super-spreader based on the high number of attendees who were later diagnosed with the virus.”
Conservatives, themselves, were also particularly vocal on Twitter about what they saw as the journalistic malpractice herein:
While it’s true neither network covered the actual confirmation vote in the Senate, CNN did offer coverage of the swearing-in event on Monday night, but presented it through the prism of the coronavirus pandemic. Note the chyron in the tweet above: “TRUMP’S SUPREME CT NOMINEE ABOUT TO BE SWORN IN AT WH AT ANOTHER POTENTIAL SUPERSPREADER EVENT.” That’s a reference, of course, to the initial announcement of Barrett’s nomination, also during an event held on the White House grounds — from which scores of attendees would later go on to be infected with COVID-19.
That event was held on Saturday, Sept. 26. Less than a week later, Trump himself announced that both he and First Lady Melania Trump had tested positive for the coronavirus.
As to Monday’s event and the hue and cry around it, the fact of the matter is that protestations of unfairness and victimhood ring hollow when that same side has control of the most-watched cable news network (Fox), as well as the White House, Senate, and Supreme Court. Heck, Trump’s Twitter feed is so influential that it long ago became a kind of de facto TV news producer, setting the agenda and steering coverage at all the major news networks almost by itself.
And don’t kid yourself; everything surrounding the Barrett confirmation was as political as it gets. Why even bother going to the trouble of lamenting journalistic niceties when you’ve spent the past month suited up for a pitched battle? Republican leaders can pick and choose what imperatives they’ll get behind and ram through at all costs, like a Supreme Court nomination (after which they immediately adjourned — sorry, darn, just didn’t have time to get around to that next coronavirus relief bill or a new round of stimulus checks). News networks, like it or not, get to do the same thing.
Source: Forbes – Business