Accuracy in Media


None of the panelists during a Morning Joe conversation on MSNBC with Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) seemed to understand the Constitution in questioning Durbin about his meeting with Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Nor did they understand why Durbin would prefer to delay Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings until after the November elections.

Rather than asking about the Constitutional basis for delaying the confirmation, MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski asked a much more subjective question: “Do you think that’s fair?”

The MSNBC panel let Durbin say that “we are on the threshold of a constitutional crisis.” But there has been no indictment, subpoena, impeachment or vote for removal of President Trump.

The panel didn’t ask whether Durbin is more interested in Kavanaugh’s confirmation than supporting the Constitution’s explicit powers of the presidency under Article II of the Constitution granted to Trump.

Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty this week and implicated Trump in approving controversial payments to two women. Even still, many lawyers agree it isn’t clear reimbursing Cohen for the payments is a crime. None of the MSNBC panelists pointed out that any legal outcome would also depend on Trump’s state of mind.

The MSNBC panel neglected to mention the type of legal analysis summarized by Karl Rove that “many legal analysts doubt the payments were illegal, including Bob Bauer, former White House counsel to President Obama and legal adviser to Mr. Obama’s campaigns.

“In an article last month, Mr. Bauer suggested that ‘the question for legal purposes is whether Trump would have made this payment even if he had not been a candidate.’ The president, he believes, ‘does not have to deny that politics played some part in his and Cohen’s plotting.’

“Rather, Mr. Bauer argues that Mr. Trump’s desire to protect his personal reputation complicates the campaign-finance question: ‘A dual motive is enough to muddy the legal waters.’ Unable to prove the payments were made solely for a political purpose, it is unlikely that prosecutors will proceed with charges.”

Commentary’s Noah Rothman asked Durbin whether Democrats should grant Kavanaugh “legitimacy” because of the ongoing investigation. He said SCOTUS “legitimacy” comes from a Senate vote. But he didn’t mention that the Constitution gives clear legitimacy to Trump to name a nominee.

Princeton professor Eddie Glaude said Congress should hurry up and impeach Trump because of developments in the Cohen case.

“He’s already, in some sort of interesting way, implicated in a crime,” Glaude said. “Can’t we walk and chew gum at the same time? Can’t we have candidates talk about impeachment as well as put forward a progressive agenda that’s consistent with the Democratic Party, by the people, for the people? Can’t we do both/and, as opposed to one or the other?”

It took Durbin himself to call out Glaude for equating Trump’s circumstances to events leading up to Richard Nixon’s resignation.

“We are a long way from that moment, if we’ll ever reach it,” Durbin said. “And I wouldn’t predict one way or the other at this moment.”




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