Fake news, fake even-handedness, fake respect for democracy

By Dave Andrusko

Judge Neil Gorsuch and President Donald Trump

Judge Neil Gorsuch and President Donald Trump

It was intended as an exaggeration, but only slightly. Referring to President Trump’s nomination of federal appeals court Judge Neil Gorsuch to be Justice Antonin Scalia’s successor, pro-life Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse wrote yesterday of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, “Senator Schumer is about to tell Americans that Judge Gorsuch kicks puppies and heckles piano recitals.”

No sooner does Senator Sasse make this kind-of tongue- in-cheek prediction than NBC News runs a classic–classic–fake news story about an imaginary past it conjured up for Judge Gorsuch.

I will not be overly specific. To rehash in detail what was written would be to feed into the fake news machine.

Suffice it to say, as is often the case with “real” reporters who find something so wonderful (i.e., anti-President Trump), the reporter couldn’t be bothered with checking the facts. Five minutes of real reporting would have demonstrated that he had falsely attributed something to Gorsuch when he was an undergrad at Columbia which he never wrote.

And so it goes. Going home last night, I was listening to one Democratic operative explain why she must oppose Judge Gorsuch. After you boil away the rhetorical lard, her resistance was because he was so young (49)! He could be around forever.

Then there is today’s Washington Post editorial on Gorsuch, headlined “Gorsuch deserves a hearing. These are the questions he should answer.”

In typical Post editorial fashion, they feign at being even-handed. They give with one hand and grab back with the other.

So, we read

But trashing Mr. Gorsuch as an outlandish radical, despite his impeccable credentials, the wide respect he commands in his field, his long service as an appeals court judge and the unanimous voice vote he received the last time the Senate considered him for the federal bench, is at the very least premature. Democrats should at a minimum give him a chance to appear before the Senate, keeping in mind that the judicial “mainstream” is not composed exclusively of liberals.

However, as the remainder of the editorial makes abundantly clear, the mainstream is “composed exclusively of liberals.”

For example, Judge Gorsuch defends religious liberties, which is not high on the Post’s agenda, at least not when it applies to people of faith who do not wish to be coerced into involvement in abortion.

The key paragraph, from our single-issue point of view, is

As with many other Supreme Court nominees before him, the judge will no doubt be loath to discuss specific cases and take stands on issues the court is likely to hear, a defensible position that promotes judicial independence and the appearance of impartiality. Senators should nevertheless demand that Mr. Gorsuch describe his views on when it is appropriate to overturn standing court precedent. A preference for judicial Jacobinism would, indeed, put him outside the mainstream.

Just to be clear I don’t remember any Supreme Court nominee who wasn’t “loath to discuss specific cases and take stands on issues the court is likely to hear.” But, no matter.

And, of course, “overturning standing court precedent” is just peachy with the Post if the precedent is not to their liking. But if the precedent is a Post favorite, then to overturn it is “judicial Jacobinism,” which is hyperbolic even by the Post’s standards.

(By the way, if case you’ve forgotten your World History course, Jacobinism is “the ideology of the most radical element of the French Revolution that instituted the Reign of Terror.”)

Fake news, fake even-handedness, fake respect for democracy.