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Mon Sep 21, 2020, 10:13 AM

Eric Boehlert: Trump, Obama and the media's wild Supreme Court double standard


Trump, Obama and the media's wild Supreme Court double standard
Normalizing radical behavior
Eric Boehlert


Over and over in 2016, we heard that Obama was "picking a fight" with Republicans by nominating a Supreme Court Justice eight months before an election. That type of media acquiescence served as the hallmark of the Obama era. Republicans routinely obliterated Beltway norms and journalists portrayed the obstruction as routine, and often blamed Obama for not being able to avoid the showdowns.

Today, Trump wants to ram through a nomination in six weeks but he isn't "picking a fight"? Much of the Ginsburg coverage starts with the premise that of course Trump will try to confirm a Supreme Court Justice days before the election, or during a lame duck session after the election, which would be unheard of in the history of the Court for a contested nomination. It would be an especially jaw-dropping move if Republicans lose the White House and the Senate on Election Day.

With its Ginsburg fallout coverage, Politico often didn't even bother to consider the issue of GOP hypocrisy ó it was a non-entity. Starting from a premise that mirrored Republican talking points, Politico assumed without question that Trump would nominate a new Justice, even though the GOP spent 2016 arguing how dishonest that exact move would be during an election year:

President Donald Trump and his team are weighing a key decision this weekend: whether to nominate a Supreme Court candidate who already has been carefully vetted and interviewed, or take extra time to select someone newer to his process who could yield a bigger election-year payoff.

Incredibly, the long Politico piece on Republican strategy made no mention of Merrick Garland or the fact that Republicans blocked his election year nomination in 2016. Politico flushed all that down the memory hole.


This Times piece over the weekend buried Sen. Lindsey Graham's stunning flip-flop quotes at the bottom of the article. At National Public Radio, it wasn't duplicitous Republican behavior that was the most newsworthy, it was that Trump's "flair for the dramatic" and how his "sense of showmanship" was sure to make his upcoming Justice nomination pick entertaining.

What Republicans are trying to pull off with the post-Ginsburg power grab has no precedence in American history and represents a corrupt power maneuver by an unpopular president. Thatís how the press should cover the unfolding story.

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