As President Joe Biden’s associate attorney general pick Vanita Gupta faces a confirmation fight, some mainstream media outlets are privileging Republicans’ and right-wing media outlets’ reliance on hollow and hypocritical attacks on Gupta’s supposed mean tweets.
Energized by their successful torpedoing of Neera Tanden’s confirmation to lead the Office of Management and Budget because of her criticism of conservatives on Twitter, right-wing media and Republicans took to social media again to find any tweet from Gupta to use against her and as evidence of bias against conservatives, with Fox News host Sean Hannity tweeting that Gupta “is in trouble over her tweets about Republicans” and asking, “Will Biden have to pull the nomination?” Conservative group Judicial Crisis Network even launched a new $1 million campaign to stop Gupta’s nomination.
This argument rings incredibly hollow given the source. As journalist Jill Filipovic wrote for the Washington Post:
After four-plus years of either pretending not to notice or, with few exceptions, dismissing the significance of former president Donald Trump’s litany of vitriolic tweets, Senate Republicans are suddenly social media critics, particularly fussy about what they consider out of bounds for the raucous public square of Twitter.
As the Post reported, here are some of Gupta’s tweets right-wing media and Republican take offense at:
After Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) came out in support Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination after reports of sexual misconduct:
During the 2020 Republican National Convention:
As Republicans hypocritically rammed through Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination for the Supreme Court weeks before the 2020 Election Day:
As Filipovic wrote, the “tweets aren’t even mean — they’re just harsh truths.” The attempts of Republicans and right-wing media to paint any criticism as toxic also appears unevenly applied across Biden’s nominees. Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick wrote:
As Merrick Garland sailed to near-bipartisan confirmation as attorney general, a clear pattern has emerged: Women, and particularly women of color, are being pilloried for tweets, speeches, old op-eds, and decades-old actions by Republicans in the Senate in ways their white male counterparts are not.
Mainstream media’s failure rests in not noting the conservative hypocrisy against Gupta and failing to detail her tweets to show whether they contained any extreme content. ABC News, CNN, Reuters, The New York Times, and USA Today all reported on the story without providing important context about the content in those tweets and the Republicans’ hypocrisy.
Right-wing media’s and Republicans’ adoption of a ridiculous new standard of the nominees having no supposedly mean tweets need not be swallowed and legitimized by mainstream media outlets. This reporting is not just flaky on the details, it’s dangerously enabling.