Nominations & Appointments | Media Matters for America

Nominations & Appointments

Issues ››› Nominations & Appointments
  • Fox regular: Democrats are making “ridiculous requests” for records from Supreme Court nominee’s White House work

    Similar records were released for Justices Roberts and Kagan

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Fox News regular and former Republican New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu appeared on America’s Newsroom to complain that Democrats were making “ridiculous requests,” “looking for something to play smear politics,” and “pushing to the extreme” by requesting past records from Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s previous work, even though Democrats are following the same vetting process used to scrutinize previous Supreme Court nominees.

    Sununu took issue with the fact that Democrats requested documents from Kavanaugh’s time as staff secretary under President George W. Bush, arguing that the volume of documents would take too long to review and that “a great extent of those probably have executive privilege,” so they are not eligible for review. But as Politico noted, “several recent Supreme Court nominees, including Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Elena Kagan, also had White House stints that led to review and release of large volumes of records prior to their hearings.”

    From the July 30 edition of Fox News’ America’s Newsroom:

    SANDRA SMITH (CO-HOST): What does the path look like to get there?

    JOHN SUNUNU (FORMER GOVERNOR OF NEW HAMPSHIRE): Well, the Democrats are trying to make it difficult. They're making ridiculous requests. [Sen. Chuck] Schumer [(D-NY)] is in a bind because he has to cater to the extreme left base, the base that’s even moving further and further to the left all the time. But the problem for Schumer is that the more he does that, the more he makes it easier for folks like [Sen. Joe] Manchin [(D-WV)] and [Sen.] Heidi Heitkamp [(D-ND)] and [Sen.] Joe Donnelly (D-IN)] to break away from the extreme and support Kavanaugh as the nominee. So Schumer’s in a bind. He is burdened, I think, with the reality that the Democrats have made this process extremely political since the [Robert] Bork effort, and now they are beginning to make it so clear to the public that all they want to do is create a political issue and a political problem and not function the way the Constitution was written to function.

    SMITH: Where is the fight for those documents going to go from Judge Brett Kavanaugh's previous work under George Bush?

    SUNUNU: Well I think what they want to do is get their hands on the documents and then distribute them to all the special interest groups that are out there to go through them because there is no way the Senate with its staff would go through a million documents in such a short period of time. The second point is those documents, a great extent of those probably have executive privilege from having been White House documents that Kavanaugh did not create but only passed through to the president. So the Democrats are on very thin ice here, and they’re making their case weaker and weaker by pushing to the extreme.

  • Media are misleadingly characterizing Brett Kavanaugh as “mainstream”

    Researchers found that Kavanaugh "is an uncommonly partisan judge" who "justified his decisions with conservative doctrines far more than his colleagues," particularly in the run-up to elections

    Blog ››› ››› DINA RADTKE


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    On July 9, President Donald Trump nominated conservative D.C. Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court in a move that would undoubtedly shift the court far to the right and out of step with the American people. Many media figures, though, have casted Kavanaugh as a centrist pick, citing his ties to former President George W. Bush and saying he is less conservative than other potential nominees.

    • MSNBC host Joe Scarborough called Kavanaugh “such a mainstream pick” and praised him for voicing opposition to indicting a sitting president, saying it “speaks to the content of the judge’s character” because it was written under a Democratic president.

    • CNN senior political analyst and occasional host John Avlon praised Trump’s choice as “not as far right” as many of the other options he had considered. After CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin disputed that characterization, fellow commentator David Gregory dug in, saying, “Any Republican would have made this selection.”

    • The New York Times published a July 9 opinion piece on its website written by a liberal friend and former law professor of Kavanaugh’s, which Fox News exploited as evidence of widespread bipartisan support for the nominee.

    • A New York Times article described him as “often a moderating force.”

    • On CBS This Morning, Dan Senor, a Republican strategist and former colleague of Kavanaugh’s in the George W. Bush administration, said he’s “not some fire-brand right-winger” and argued that other Republicans also would have nominated him.

    • MSNBC political commentator Bret Stephens claimed that Kavanaugh is “within the broad mainstream of the American movement.”

    But data shows that Kavanaugh is “an uncommonly partisan judge” who has historically “tended to dissent more often along partisan lines than his peers,” according to research compiled by social scientists Elliott Ash and Daniel L. Chen. They also noted that Kavanaugh “justified his decisions with conservative doctrines far more than his colleagues” and that his right-leaning partisan decisions ramped up in the midst of presidential elections, “suggesting that he feels personally invested in national politics.” Additionally, Kavanaugh’s views on the environment, labor, LGBTQ discrimination, reproductive rights, gun safety, and immigration -- which are often out of step with those of the majority of Americans -- have won him the support of some of the most extreme factions, including extremist anti-LGBTQ groups and nativists like Ann Coulter and the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).

  • Like clockwork, Sinclair has a must-run cheering on SCOTUS pick Brett Kavanaugh

    Sinclair chief political analyst Boris Epshteyn: “He is easily the most confirmable candidate” 

    Blog ››› ››› PAM VOGEL

    In a July 9 reality TV-like event, Trump formally nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated by Justice Anthony Kennedy. Sinclair Broadcast Group’s chief political analyst Boris Epshteyn, who used to work in the Trump White House, was there in person to watch it unfold. And, as expected, he was ready to tell local news viewers how great this decision was.

    Less than a day later, Epshteyn published his latest commentary segment for Sinclair, in which you can practically hear him salivating over the Kavanaugh pick. In the 90-second segment, Epshteyn manages to throw just about every justification for supporting the Kavanaugh nomination at the wall, while attempting to paper over any of the myriad reasons lawmakers might oppose the nomination.

    Kavanaugh -- who, according to a recent analysis, would be nearly as far right ideologically as the most conservative current justice, Clarence Thomas -- doesn’t "seem affected by any political ideology,” Epshteyn argues. Epshteyn also suggests that Democratic senators in states like Indiana, North Dakota, and West Virginia will vote to confirm Kavanaugh if they want to "keep their chances to be reelected alive" come November. (Sinclair has local news stations in both Indiana and West Virginia.) 

    Here is the full transcript, along with video of the segment playing on Sinclair flagship station WBFF (Fox 45) in Baltimore, MD:

    BORIS EPSHTEYN: On Monday of this week, I had the honor of seeing President Trump nominate Judge Brett Kavanaugh to succeed retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh has served as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia for almost 12 years. Kavanaugh is immensely qualified for the high court. He served as a Supreme Court law clerk for Justice Kennedy after attending Yale University and Yale Law School. Kavanaugh also worked in the Bush White House.

    The more conservative Republicans may not be thrilled with the selection. However, it is important to remember that Kavanaugh is a constitutionalist and will uphold the rule of law.

    Moderate Republicans are big fans of Kavanaugh’s pick. He has described Roe v. Wade as binding precedent and his decisions don’t seem affected by any political ideology. That position on Roe and the fact that Kavanaugh has not really taken a stand on Obamacare’s individual mandate put a lot pressure on Democrat senators in conservative states, such as Sens. [Joe] Manchin from West Virginia, [Heidi] Heitkamp from North Dakota, and [Joe] Donnelly from Indiana, to vote for Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

    Here's the bottom line: Kavanaugh was the least controversial nominee from the president's list of potential justices. He is easily the most confirmable candidate for the open seat. I imagine that we will see most of the Democrats in Republican-leaning states who are up for reelection in November vote for Kavanaugh in the end so as to keep their chances to be reelected alive.

    This segment will now be forcibly aired, often spliced into local news coverage, on more than 100 Sinclair-owned or -operated news stations throughout the country as part of the media giant’s infamous “must-run” lineup. According to a Media Matters search of the iQ media database this morning, the segment has already aired on stations in at least 21 states.

    Are there Sinclair stations near you? Use Media Matters’ interactive map at FindSinclair.com to learn more.

  • Fox & Friends papers over Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s extremely conservative record

    Pete Hegseth: “The fact that they’re going to resist him is just a reflection of the fact that they hate Trump, so they hate anything he does”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Fox News is already running defense for President Donald Trump’s nominee to fill Justice Anthony Kennedy’s seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, saying that opponents to D.C. Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh's nomination simply “hate Trump, so they hate anything he does.” But a closer look at Kavanaugh’s judicial record shows a nominee who is “more to the right than the man he would replace,” and a judge “whose lack of any direct paper trail on cases involving abortion rights will make it easier for pro-choice Republican senators ... to maintain the fiction that the future of Roe v. Wade is uncertain if not secure.” Right-wing propagandists have fantasized for years about getting a chance to overturn Roe v. Wade, a possibility they began discussing literally minutes after Kennedy announced his retirement.

    Moreover, beyond being described as “a forceful partisan,” Kavanaugh has taken the position that sitting presidents should be granted “a temporary deferral of civil suits and of criminal prosecutions and investigations,” a position a president who could potentially be served with a subpoena from federal investigators would be deeply invested in.

    From the July 10 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

    ED HENRY (GUEST CO-HOST): It’s interesting, because The New York Times opinion page has, in their print edition, “Mr. Trump Courts the Right,” and it’s blasting everything about [Judge Brett] Kavanaugh, ignoring these credentials that even Alan Dershowitz, from the left a moment ago, said are many. But, if you go online, The New York Times opinion page, they don't put it in the paper today, has an op-ed from Akhil Amar, a professor at Yale Law School, who says he voted for Hillary Clinton and yet, basically says that, when the president said that this is a man with impeccable credentials, great intellect and all of that, “I agree.” So basically this professor, Akhil Amar at Yale Law School, says, I voted for Hillary Clinton. I supported every one of the Obama Supreme Court nominees, and this is a home run.

    PETE HEGSETH (GUEST CO-HOST): That’s the reality. Ultimately, as we’ve said, elections have consequences. If Hillary Clinton had won, we’d get more Sonia Sotomayors and Elena Kagans. But if you get President Trump, you get [Samuel] Alitos and [Antonin] Scalias.

    HENRY: Kagen, by the way, confirmed in the middle of a midterm election in 2010 for Barack Obama. She got through.

    HEGSETH: Of course, so like, the reality is is you get what you get when you vote for someone, and President Trump was the most transparent of anyone, saying, here’s the 25 I’m going to pick, he stayed faithful to that list, Brett Kavanaugh was one of them.

    HENRY: [Neil] Gorsuch was on the list, Kavanaugh was on the list.

    HEGSETH: And here you go, and the fact that they’re going to resist him is just a reflection of the fact that they hate Trump, so they hate anything he does.

  • MSNBC hosted Turning Point USA’s Candace Owens. It was a train wreck.

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    MSNBC interviewed Candace Owens, communications director for Turning Point USA, on July 5. The interview focused on the supposed increase in support for President Donald Trump among minorities and on embattled Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, while omitting important context about Owens’ personal background. The interview gave Owens a mainstream platform to push several conservative talking points:

    • Owens pushed an astroturfed hashtag, #WalkAway, saying the phenomenon the hashtag supposedly highlights -- that Black people “are walking away from the Democratic Party” -- is “very real.” The hashtag has been linked to a Russian Twitter campaign. An analysis of the hashtag on Twitter found that it was a “psychological operation” aimed at shaping the conversation in segments just like this one. The hashtag's spread was driven by non-human activity. Accounts that tweeted their support had used pro-Trump hashtags like #magabefore they “walked away” from the Democratic Party.
    • Owens said “we shouldn’t be talking about” the possibility that Trump’s newest Supreme Court nominee could play a part in overturning or severely undercutting a landmark Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, that formally recognized the legal right to an abortion. She called the discussion “a typical leftist tactic to … get everybody all upset and up in arms” and said that “we shouldn’t be talking about it whatsoever.” A Fox & Friends guest has already admitted that any Trump appointee would overrule Roe.
    • When asked whether Pruitt should remain in his job, Owens said that she did not care about the EPA administrator’s litany of scandals and that his alleged misconduct is “a sidebar and it’s something that has gotten way too much coverage.”
    • Melvin did not ask Owens about her recent remarks attacking the #MeToo movement. Owens claimed that #MeToo treated women as “stupid, weak & inconsequential.” When even conservatives pushed back on her, Owens doubled down and posted a video in which she claimed she speaks to CEOs who will not hire women; she blamed #MeToo. This isn’t the only sexist remark Owens has made.
    • Melvin also failed to ask Owens about the video she posted in the wake of the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, VA, in which she dismissed white supremacy as a narrative pushed by the media (Owens rose to #MAGA fame after she posted that video).

    CRAIG MELVIN (HOST): Explain the tweet, and how can you say that black voters have been politically irrelevant for decades?

    CANDACE OWENS (TURNING POINT USA): Right, so politically irrelevant because if you consistently vote for just one party, then you're not going to see people competing for your votes, and that's what we have seen happen. So, I feel that, on the Republican side, they weren't doing anything because they saw it as a monolith and they weren't trying to win over Black voters. And the Democratic side, they were able to present us a bunch of broken promises, if you will. We are seeing a huge difference, a huge shift, a bunch of Black people popping up on YouTube, and on social media, and the hashtag saying that they are walking away from the Democratic Party. It's something that hasn't gotten much airtime on liberal networks and it should because it's very real, and you can see that just by some of the polls that have been done that show that Black people are starting to support Donald Trump.

    MELVIN: Polls like?

    OWENS: Like the fact that he has the most support, Black support, since I believe Richard Nixon and that's a very big deal.

    MELVIN: Where's that poll from?

    OWENS: That’s a -- I -- I want to get the exact website, I’m going to have to look it up for you. But it’s a poll, that’s an exact poll, so.

    MELVIN: Because there have been a number of these polls -- and I’m using air quotes, because a number of these polls are not actually polls, they're opt-in surveys. But in terms of -- there's always been Black Republicans, this isn’t some new phenomenon. Are you asserting that, all of a sudden, there are millions of new Black Donald Trump supporters that we didn't know anything about before?

    OWENS: They weren’t Trump supporters to begin with, but we’re seeing a shift, a major shift happen, and Black supporters are leaving the left and going over to the right. You need to pay attention to the underground movement. And look, you are correct to say that just because a poll says something, it isn’t right. The polls told us that Hillary Clinton was going to win and she didn’t. But I wasn't fooled by the polls. I thought that Hillary Clinton was going to lose in the same way that I am also saying that I believe that Black voters are going to exit the left completely by 2020.

    MELVIN: But you didn’t vote for Donald Trump, to be clear.

    OWENS: I did not because I was sick. I was in bed for six months and I was unable to vote.

    MELVIN: NBC News has learned that the president has narrowed his Supreme Court search down to three contenders. What are you looking for in the next Supreme Court justice?

    OWENS: Look, I'm not looking for anything in particular, somebody that will uphold the Constitution, of course, I think that’s super important. I don't think that we should stress out until he makes a pick and then we talk about the different qualifications. But I think that, right now, there's mass hysteria over the fact he gets to pick somebody in the same way that Obama got to pick two people. I don’t understand what everybody’s so --

    MELVIN: Well, I think a lot of folks are annoyed by the third person that the president did not get to pick, Merrick Garland, who didn't get a hearing. But going back --

    OWENS: He did get two picks.

    MELVIN: Well, yes. That’s correct. Litmus test, Roe v. Wade, we were just talking about that a few minutes ago. Do you think there should be a litmus test with regards to Roe v. Wade.

    OWENS: No, I think that even the fact that we are discussing Roe v. Wade is a typical leftist tactic to get people -- it’s fearmongering to get everybody all upset and up in arms and think that something’s going to be overturned so that they boycott. We shouldn’t be talking about it whatsoever, we should be talking about the qualifications of the person that is going in --

    MELVIN: We shouldn’t be having a conversation about Roe v. Wade?

    OWENS: No. No. I think that the fact that --

    MELVIN: Because it’s settled law? Or --

    OWENS: No. No. We should not be having a conversation about Roe v. Wade before the president makes the pick for SCOTUS. It’s a way for the left to fearmonger, which is what they always do. They want people to be scared, as if somehow all of their rights are going to be violated because Donald Trump gets a Supreme Court pick, and that’s just not true.

    MELVIN: But it’s not just people on the left who are doing this “fearmongering.” There are people who --

    OWENS: It is.

    MELVIN: No, no, no.

    OWENS: It definitely is.

    MELVIN: I have friends and talk to lots of people who aren’t on the left, and there are people who are legitimately concerned about the next Supreme Court justice being able to upend some 45 years of settled law in this country --

    OWENS: Name your friends, please --

    MELVIN: I don’t think, I mean --

    OWENS: CNN?

    MELVIN: No. No -- well, I think you and I both know that wouldn’t necessarily be my friend, but to say that the entire left, or that the entire right is doing something, I just -- I don't know -- first of all, it can't be accurate. You know that's not accurate. That’s hyperbole.

    OWENS: It’s 100 percent accurate. It’s not hyperbole, it’s what’s going on right now. Hyperbole is this idea that every time Donald Trump does something, there's going to be an armageddon. It's the reason why so many people on the left have grown apathetic towards the Democrats, because you guys -- I don't mean to say you guys, I shouldn’t insinuate that you're a part of that.

    MELVIN: Thank you for the correction.

    OWENS: But because of what we see in the leftist media so much is, every single week, you’re outraged over something else. He gets a Supreme Court pick. You have to move on from that, let him pick somebody, and then we start to talk about things. But this fearmongering has to stop completely. This has to be more rational dialogue and thought here.

    MELVIN: So there’s been no fearmongering on other sides of the political spectrum?

    OWENS: If you have a point you’d like to make I can answer it.

    MELVIN: No, I’m just saying the president, from time to time, some of his tweets --

    OWENS: No, I don’t think -- I do not remember or recall, while Obama was in office for two terms, every single day waking up thinking that the world was going to end, to answer your question.

    MELVIN: I vividly recall being at a number of town hall meetings after Obamacare had been launched, and people showing up with automatic weapons. People claiming that they wanted to take their country back. So that all of a sudden the left is up in arms, I mean, the right was up in arms for a while as well.

    OWENS: About Obamacare, yes, that’s something that --

    MELVIN: Well, about the president in general, about the fact that he wasn’t born in this country, that he was a secret Muslim. There are fringes.

    OWENS: Are you suggesting that there has been this much outrage, the outrage that we’re seeing towards every single thing that Donald Trump does, that his daughter does, that his family does, was the same thing we experienced when Obama was in office?

    MELVIN: I can’t speak for everyone.

    OWENS: That’s a question -- I’m asking you to objectively say, right? That you think that there was this much outrage when Obama was in office for two terms?

    MELVIN: The beauty about doing what I do for a living is that I get to ask the questions --

    OWENS: Right.

    MELVIN: I don’t necessarily have to answer the questions.

    OWENS: I’ll take that as an answer.

    MELVIN: No, that’s not an answer.

    OWENS: I think that is one.

    MELVIN: One of the things that a lot of folks have been up in arms about specifically here, Scott Pruitt, the EPA administrator. You are quite familiar, I'm sure, with a number of his scandals, some alleged, some confirmed, 15 current investigations as it relates to Scott Pruitt. Spending and management practices, I think we've got a partial list we can put up on the screen here -- a partial list of his scandals. This is Scott Pruitt, of course, former attorney general there in Oklahoma, and we've tried to condense it to one screen here. And there is this -- there continues to be this bizarre story about trying to secure a used mattress, as well, from a Trump tower hotel. Do you think that Scott Pruitt should remain EPA chief?

    OWENS: I think that I should remain focused on things that matter. This is not going to impact midterms. It's not going to impact Trump for support. It's a sidebar and it’s something that has gotten way too much coverage with all of the things that are going on right now in this nation.

    MELVIN: Now, wait a minute. But you can appreciate how a president who vowed to drain the swamp might receive some legitimate criticism from journalists and just the citizenry at large, because the guy who’s charged with --

    OWENS: Absolutely, absolutely I can appreciate that, but I don’t have to add to the dialogue. I don't have to pretend this is something that is a pressing issue that we need to discuss 24 hours wall-to-wall coverage on any network. And I choose not to. I choose to pay attention to the crack that is happening in the Democratic Party and the major shift that is happening, and I choose to be at the forefront of it.

    MELVIN: Candace Owens, there are lots of voices in this country, and we like to give all voices an opportunity to be heard here, so I thank you for coming on.

    OWENS: I like you, Craig. Thanks for having me.

    MELVIN: Thank you, Candace. You’re welcome to come back.