By Cassandra DeVries
CNN This Morning presented viewers on Tuesday with the breaking news that Florida Governor and presidential candidate Ron DeSantis was friends with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and that they first met three years ago at the 2020 Federalist Society Dinner. They also found it scandalous that DeSantis praised Thomas on stage, while introducing him.
CNN hosts Poppy Harlow and Phil Mattingly repeatedly referred to this news (or perhaps history) as fascinating. They also took issue with Federalist Society co-chairman Lenard Leo, who introduced the men and had a private dinner with them.
“So, we have really fascinating new details from our colleague Joan Biskupic reporting this morning about how a very wealthy conservative activist may have helped Florida Governor Ron DeSantis seal a tight relationship with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas,” Harlow said. “Three years ago, at Disney World, at an event for the Florida chapter of the conservative group the Federalist Society, Governor DeSantis had this to say about Justice Thomas.”
Harlow played a three-year-old clip of DeSantis who said, “This is a justice that has the courage of his convictions, and he is willing to apply the constitution, you know, regardless of any criticism that he may face. Because, I do think he is our greatest living justice. Thank you.”
Due to the importance of this dated comment, CNN called in reinforcements to understand what it might have meant. Harlow asked CNN’s Supreme Court Analyst Joan Biskupic this question:
This is so interesting, sort of the world you take us into, and we-we all know how powerful the Federalist Society is – right? From Federal Judges all the way up to the Supreme Court. But what can you tell about, sort of, what seems to be DeSantis following the path that former President Trump took in 2016, running on ‘these are the kind of justices I will get on the Supreme Court?’
Biskupic explained the connection between DeSantis, Trump, and the Supreme Court,
“Lenard Leo was one of the men, and they were men, in a small band advising President Trump on who to choose for the Supreme Court. And then Lenard Leo started advising Governor DeSantis when he won the state house down in Florida in 2018.”
Further discussion ensued regarding how Leo, DeSantis, and Thomas went so far as to visit a steakhouse after the Federalist Society event in 2020.
CNN This Morning co-host Phil Mattingly summarized the news coverage: “And, Joan, you know, part of the-the fascinating element of this article that you’ve written of the story that you’ve got is it really reveals, kind of, the tight relationships that have developed between DeSantis, Lenard Leo, and Supreme Court Justice Thomas, some of which traces to the 2020 Federalist Society Dinner.”
CNN spent five minutes discussing Leo’s 2020 introduction of Ron DeSantis to Justice Clarence Thomas. Viewers may be assured that no detail was too small or too innocuous for CNN to cover.
Editor’s note. This appeared at Newsbusters and is reposted with permission.