President Trump is scheduled to announce his nominee for the vacant seat on the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday evening, but the mainstream media will harp on the fact that the choice is conservative regardless of the selection, according to an examination of media coverage of the last six nominees.
From the moment that Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement last month, media members have been stoking fear that Trump’s replacement would outlaw abortions and turn America into a nation that shuns liberal ideology. The Hollywood elite has gotten involved, too, with the usual anti-Trump suspects immediately entering crisis mode.
Now that Trump’s historic decision is only a few hours away, Rich Noyes, a senior editor at Media Research Center, wrote that it’s “easy to predict the liberal media’s spin” regardless of who Trump selects.
“As with all recent Republican nominees, reporters will repeatedly label them as ‘conservative,’ which will nicely reinforce the Democrats’ strategy to paint them as outside ‘the mainstream,’” Noyes wrote.
Noyes pointed out that Neil Gorsuch, Samuel Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts were all branded as conservatives – but not just regular conservatives. Adjectives such as “predictable,” ‘very,” “deeply” and “staunch” were typically tacked onto the label. Noyes added that there is nothing wrong with calling a conservative a conservative, but pointed out that liberal nominees don’t typically receive fancy adjectives when being described.
Last year, when Gorsuch was tapped to serve on the Supreme Court, the MRC conducted a study that proved Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Merrick Garland were rarely referred to as “liberal” when the media covered their nominations. ABC and NBC didn’t use the term “liberal” to describe them at all during the first 24 hours following their respective nominations, according to the MRC.
Noyes discovered that Democratic nominees were often described as “centrist” or “moderate,” while conservatives didn’t receive the same benefit. Republican nominees were never described as ‘centrist’ or ‘moderate,’” he wrote.
The MRC found that Roberts, Alito and Gorsuch were called “conservative” 36 times on ABC, CBS and NBC within 24 hours of their nomination, while Sotomayor, Kagan and Garland were only labeled “liberal” seven times total using the same parameters.
Simply put, media members really want viewers to know when a nominee is conservative but don’t particularly care when discussing a liberal – at least when it comes to the past six nominees.
Trump said Sunday that he was "close to making a decision" about who he would nominate to replace the retiring Kennedy. Most speculation is that one of four appeals court judges -- Brett Kavanaugh, Raymond Kethledge, Amy Coney Barrett, and Thomas Hardiman – will be the selection. Using the conservative label as an insult has already started when pundits break down the candidates.
MSNBC’s Joy Reid said on Sunday that the decision could lead to the “erosion” of everything from workers and voting rights to affirmative action. When discussing the candidates, Reid said that Barrett belongs to a “very, very conservative Catholic sect” to open a panel discussion that included a guest saying her religious group has “cult-like” tendencies.
CNN’s “New Day” broke down the candidates on Monday morning and Barrett was again singled out as “very conservative,” this time by legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin – who didn’t particularly have a different opinion about the other three candidates.
“The other three, I think all have very good chances of being nominees. I think their similarities are a lot bigger than their differences. They are all very conservative,” Toobin said.
Fox News’ Samuel Chamberlain contributed to this report.