Accuracy in Media


Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern took a break from the Brett Kavanaugh hearings to write an update on what was occurring in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Though the report, under the headline, “Senate Democrats Are Trying to Blow Up the Kavanaugh Hearings and It Might Be Working,” was presented as straight news, he clearly had a bias, as reflected in the lead.

“On Tuesday morning, as the Senate Judiciary Committee began confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, Democrats finally began to put up a real fight,” Stern wrote.

As soon as the gavel fell to open the hearing, “Democratic senators launched a coordinated effort to halt them,” he wrote.

He recounted the story of how White House attorneys have been reluctant to release papers from Kavanaugh’s time there working for President George W. Bush, only to release 42,000 pages of documents the day before. The attorney charged with reviewing the documents cited but did not invoke executive privilege, Stern wrote.

“More protesters,” he wrote, describing the scene in the room. “[Hawaii Sen. Mazie] Hirono spoke again, then Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse lodged his grievance over [the attorney’s] dubious claim of executive privilege.” Stern does not state how he knows the claim to be dubious.

He wrapped up the article with a call to action.

“There is little chance that Democrats’ efforts will actually block Kavanaugh’s confirmation,” Stern wrote.

“Republicans have the votes, and the Democratic base has largely failed to show up to the Kavanaugh fight. But the senators’ objections did prove that, at a bare minimum, they recognize the fundamental illegitimacy of these hearings, and refuse (for now, at least) to play along with the charade. If Democrats in the committee were fully committed to exposing the farce of these hearings, they’d simply walk out – and leave the room full of the Republican politicians and operatives who rigged the process in the first place. But failing that, a group venting of Democratic disgust is a pretty effective way to open this sorry show.”

He does not report what about the process was rigged, why it is illegitimate or a farce or a charade.

He does link to an article he wrote that appeared on Labor Day, entitled, “Hello, Justice Kavanaugh. Farewell, Roe.” In that piece, he asserts “Democrats had a shot at stopping Kavanaugh and saving the constitutional right to abortion access. They blew it.”

No one should be surprised when Kavanaugh joins four other justices in overturning Roe and that it is not “hypothetical or seriously debatable” that Kavanaugh will, he wrote. What is surprising, Stern wrote, is how little Democrats did to stop it.

“While a majority of Democratic senators have already voiced their hostility to Kavanaugh, their base has utterly failed to mount a vigorous, sustained opposition to his nomination,” Stern wrote. “If, today, liberals could channel a fraction of the outrage they will fear after Kavanaugh overturns Roe, they would have a shot at keeping him off the court. Instead, their relative apathy toward his impending confirmation has likely doomed reproductive rights for at least a generation.”

But there has been some organized opposition.  

The day after Trump appointed Kavanaugh, Brian Fallon, a top official in Hillary Clinton’s campaign, formed Demand Justice to organize opposition and put on the “Rise Up For Roe Tour” to generate support.

Stern was resigned to what he considers a sad outcome though.

“There is little mystery in how all this ends,” he wrote “The modern Republican Party is built upon a conviction that Roe is illegitimate. Kavanaugh is a GOP apparatchik who has vocally endorsed the anti-abortion party line. Once he is in the Supreme Court, he will do precisely what his party asks of him and gut the constitutional right to abortion access. Progressives had a brief shot at stopping him and saving Roe. They blew it.”  

“Shot at stopping.” “Rigged process.” “Sorry show.” “Utterly failed to mount a vigorous, sustained opposition.” “If liberals could channel a fraction of the outrage.” These are two news stories where it is clear the author has a preference for the outcome.




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