Right-wing media lash out after Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse exposes the dark money network in the courts
Their response is to call him a conspiracy theorist — while trying to connect him to George Soros
During Tuesday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) delivered a presentation on the undisclosed dark money groups coordinating to push a partisan Republican agenda through the court system, including past and present efforts to throw out the Affordable Care Act. In response, right-wing personalities on Twitter dismissed Whitehouse as a conspiracy theorist — with this critique coming from notorious conspiracy theorists themselves.
Whitehouse described how multiple groups will file amicus briefs in Supreme Court cases — though they are actually funded by the same outlets, including a group called Donors Trust that Whitehouse called “a gigantic identity-scrubbing device for the right wing.”
Whitehouse’s speech relied heavily on a 2019 Washington Post report which outlined the links between right-wing legal organization the Federalist Society and the right-wing political organization Judicial Crisis Network via fundraiser Leonard Leo — with the nominally separate organizations actually based out of the same hallway of a building in downtown Washington, D.C.
“This more and more looks like it's not three schemes — but it's one scheme,” said Whitehouse, ”with the same funders selecting judges, funding campaigns for the judges, and then showing up in court in these orchestrated amicus flotillas to tell the judges what to do.”
One of the most prominent right-wing media figures to criticize Whitehouse was Mollie Hemingway, a Fox News contributor and senior editor at the right-wing online outlet The Federalist — an organization which is itself famously opaque on its own funding.
Hemingway is hardly the ideal person, however, to be calling somebody else a conspiracy theorist. When multiple sources corroborate a story damaging to President Donald Trump, she has a pattern of often declaring that this corroboration is really the result of a coordinated conspiracy by those sources to be lying in synchronization with each other.
Hemingway thus saw a conspiratorial connection of her own, connecting Whitehouse’s speech to a recent opinion piece in The Washington Post that was critical of the Federalist Society:
Hemingway also sought to turn the rhetorical tables, posting an image that alleged a nefarious web of connection between Whitehouse, as a progressive U.S. senator, and activist groups that promote issues such as women’s health care, environmental conservation, and LGBTQ rights. However, Hemingway missed a major point that publicly disclosed campaign donations to an elected U.S. senator are not the same as a network of financial support that pushes for lawsuits and judicial appointments designed to achieve policy aims in the courts on behalf of its undisclosed donors.
And while Hemingway’s featured illustration also contained passing mention of liberal philanthropist George Soros — a Holocaust survivor who is often the target of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories — Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) just went straight to the point:
Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch, which also has a record of making conspiratorial smears against Soros, similarly skipped the middle man:
The Daily Wire founder Ben Shapiro, himself no stranger to Soros conspiracy theories, talk of Trojan horses inside of Trojan horses, or killer progressives just around the corner, also mocked Whitehouse’s presentation: