Is The Media Tide Finally Turning Against The GOP's Radical Supreme Court Obstruction?

Mitch McConnell

As Republicans cement their extraordinary desire to deny President Obama the chance to even have his next Supreme Court nominee be heard on Capitol Hill this year, there are signs that the Beltway press is finally addressing radical Republican obstructionism head-on. No longer shying away from being factually accurate in their description of an extremist Republican blockade, reporters are at last conveying to news consumers how unusual today's GOP behavior is.

Better late than never.

Almost since Obama's inauguration, Media Matters has been documenting how the press has so timidly danced around Republicans' incessant obstructionism. Even worse, media outlets have routinely found ways to blame Obama for the GOP's blockading ways.

When Republicans announced hours after Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's death that they'd likely oppose any Obama nominee, we saw lots of examples of that tell-tale press tentativeness: Obama was picking a "fight" by merely following the Constitution by moving to fill a court vacancy.

The New York Times in particular has seemed oddly committed to portraying the GOP's radical actions as part of a Both Sides Are To Blame confrontation.

But now, just a week later and with Republicans putting their blockade into action, more reporters seem to have decided there's no other way to describe the Republicans' radical behavior than by being honest. (Even Fox News is telling the truth.)

And the key here is that the accurate descriptions are showing up in straight news reports. Plenty of commentators have condemned the Republican ploy in recent days. But in the news pages the GOP's shutdown approach was often presented as a “bipartisan” bickering; as more uncontrollable gridlock.

More reporters are clearly spelling out what's happening. Hopefully the shift is a real and sustained one. It's certainly long overdue.

Bloomberg News [emphases added]:

Senate Republicans emerged from a closed-door meeting Tuesday committed to maximum obstruction of any nominee by President Barack Obama to fill the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court -- no hearings and no votes."


The issue became heated on Tuesday as the GOP leader flashed rare emotion under intense questioning from the media about how his extraordinary blockade might play politically.

In an unprecedented move, Senate Republicans vowed to deny holding confirmation hearings for President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee -- even promising to deny meeting privately with whomever the President picks.

The Hill:

The unprecedented decision, made before the president has named a nominee, marks a new chapter in Washington's war over judicial nominations.

New York Daily News:

Throughout American history, even the most divisive nominees for the high court have received a hearing before the Judiciary Committee, and the election-year decision to deny such a session marks a radical departure from the Senate's traditional “advise and consent” role.

And no, there's nothing biased or misleading in any of those dispatches. They're simply factual accounts of how off-the-rails Republican behavior has become.

The fact that Republicans' behavior is now in unprecedented territory should temper the media freak-out when the next “see, both sides do it!” gotcha video inevitably emerges.