The American media resembled Los Alamos this week -- making more references to “going nuclear” than a guy in a lab coat with a German accent.
CNN chose “Senate GOP triggers nuclear option” while The Washington Post picked, “Senate Republicans go ‘nuclear.’” The Drudge Report used a huge, color photo of a nuclear blast and the headline: “REPUBLICANS PUSH BUTTON.”
For such an explosive choice, the major media reaction was mellow -- distracted by Trump’s actions in Syria and yet another terror attack in Europe. Most outlets went with a version of the what ABC News deployed -- the generic headline, even if it was in red. “NEIL GORSUCH CONFIRMED TO THE SUPREME COURT. CBS News initially led its website with a millennial-esque meh headline: “Neil Gorsuch receives enough votes to be confirmed by Senate.” Not Trump wins.
Notice the spin? All six top traditional news sites excluded Trump from their Gorsuch headlines. ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Washington Post and New York Times censored any headline mention of Trump’s biggest victory since taking office as a non-event. Politico did the same, but it’s a liberal political site. It took the Jerusalem Post to make the journalistic point honestly. “In big win for Trump, Senate approves conservative court pick Neil Gorsuch.”
The Washington Post was rare among news sites to make the event obviously partisan. The paper’s website, now enshrined under the anti-Trump motto, “Democracy Dies in Darkness,” politicized the new justice. “Gorsuch is confirmed, restoring conservative tilt to high court.” That was in keeping with an earlier headline that was worse: “Neil Gorsuch’s Supreme Court nomination is on track to change the Senate — and further divide the country.” Hardly surprising for a news outlet that inserts attacks on Trump in news, fashion, sports and business.
For context, the Post’s headline almost precisely mirrors the one used by far-left Democracy Now! “GOP Senators Trigger Nuclear Option to Confirm Far-Right Judge Neil Gorsuch.” Alt-lefty Alternet combined both the Post themes into one: “Republicans Have Just Handed America an Extreme Right-Wing Supreme Court That Will Divide the Country More Than Ever.”
Liberals based that idea on the claim that the GOP was trying to steal the seat. Even before the final vote, that was the argument CNN commentator Sally Kohn was making. “Go, Democrats, go!!!! Republicans stole this #SCOTUS seat from President Obama AND #Gorsuch is even more extreme right than Scalia!”
Former journalist Luke Russert bashed the #GOP in identical fashion. “UNPRECEDENTED-How the #GOP used the filibuster to stop Obama & steal a Supreme Court pick,” he tweeted. Russert appears to have left both his MSNBC gig and the news business. At least we can hope.
The hardcore voices on the left vowed revenge and even claimed victory. Abortion extremist and NARAL president Ilyse Hogue seemed to be tweeting for conservatives unintentionally. “Gorsuch ascends to #SCOTUS by 54-45 vote. There's victory in fighting for what's right, and the people have been victorious in this fight.”
Conservatives relished in the victory. On a day where even some liberals were singing Trump’s praises over his action in Syria, it made for a win-win.
Radio host Eric Metaxas presented the conservative case on Gorsuch with a bit of snark. “Judge Gorsuch confirmed! Gorsuch a time as this. I wonder if Hillary would have nominated an originalist, he said very very sarcastically….”
That was echoed by the Heritage Foundation which had been instrumental in Trump’s judicial choices. “The Senate just confirmed Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. This is an enormous win for all Americans.”
The media also had a role in the loss. It was a fight Democrats never were likely to win, a reality journalists did little to share with liberal supporters.
News outlets hyped the fillibuster fight like it would actually stop Trump from naming the justice he wanted. Anti-conservative, sometime comedian Stephen Colbert used "The Late Show" to make that point, but apparently not enough liberals were watching. "Sure, it's a fight they're going to lose," Colbert said of the left. "But those are the kinds of fights Democrats love."
Even when the filibuster was deployed, lefty websites were describing it as a victory. Bustle ran the deceptive headline: “Democrats block Trump’s SCOTUS Nominee Neal [Sic] Gorsuch.” Except they didn’t. What they did was help Trump nominate a future justice without any Democrat involvement. Bustle just got $12 million to do political reporting. One hopes they haven’t spent it yet.
The Atlantic’s Matt Ford reprised that utterly fruitless argument. “That's 41 votes for the Democrats. Neil Gorsuch's nomination has been successfully filibustered.”
Dan Gainor is the Media Research Center's Vice President for Business and Culture. He writes frequently about media for Fox News Opinion. He can also be contacted on Facebook and Twitter as dangainor.