The Brett Kavanaugh confirmation saga has led the New York Times back into its bad old distorted labeling habits, in which stories included the term “conservative” as often as they included conjunctions. Friday’s front page led off with two Kavanaugh-related stories, including Jeremy Peters and Elizabeth Dias’s “Religious Right Wary of Delays On Court Pick – Threatening to Sit Out Midterm Elections.”
The 1,600-word story contained a whopping 15 “conservative” labels, plus a photo caption and a text box and a “religious right” in headline and one in the text, plus a “further to the right” for good measure. That’s not even counting appearances of the word in quoted material. Meanwhile, the anti-Kavanaugh liberal side was only given a single ideological label (“liberals”) deep into the story:
Worried their chance to cement a conservative majority on the Supreme Court could slip away, a growing number of evangelical and anti-abortion leaders are expressing frustration that Senate Republicans and the White House are not protecting Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh more forcefully from a sexual assault allegation and warning that conservative voters may stay home in November if his nomination falls apart.
The evangelical leaders’ pleas are, in part, an attempt to apply political pressure: Some of them are warning that religious conservatives may feel little motivation to vote in the midterm elections unless Senate Republicans move the nomination out of committee soon and do more to defend Judge Kavanaugh from what they say is a desperate Democratic ploy to prevent President Trump from filling future court vacancies.
In case you hadn't gotten the point yet:
Social conservatives are already envisioning a worst-case scenario related to Judge Kavanaugh, and they say it is not a remote one. Republican promises to shift the Supreme Court further to the right -- which just a few days ago seemed like a fait accompli -- have been one of the major reasons conservatives say they are willing to tolerate an otherwise dysfunctional Republican-controlled government. If Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination fails, and recent political history is any guide, voters will most likely point the finger not at Mr. Trump but at Republican lawmakers.
Peters and Dias put the pressure on Republicans.
In pressing for a quick resolution, conservatives are making a risky bet that the jubilation from their own base over Judge Kavanaugh’s speedy confirmation would outweigh the likely backlash from independent voters they need -- especially women.
On Thursday, more groups affiliated with the religious right piled on: Concerned Women of America’s legislative action committee sent a blast to its members urging “No More Delays,” and the American Family Association sent out another, “Confirm Kavanaugh Now!”
Even social conservatives who describe Dr. Blasey’s account as part of a Democratic plot to upend the nomination acknowledge the bind they are in. While they decry the process as tainted and unfair, some are also arguing that they cannot be indifferent and insensitive to a victim.
They finally inserted Republican criticism of Democratic tactics in paragraph 20:
But many conservatives see little use in being deferential when, they argue, the Democrats play by no such rules. They look back at the failed confirmation of the Republican nominee Robert Bork in 1987, whose writings on civil rights were picked over by Democrats, and the 1991 hearings for Clarence Thomas, who faced testimony from Anita Hill that he had sexually harassed her, and they see a sophisticated and ruthless Democratic machine bent on discrediting their nominees.
And once the Senate puts the Kavanaugh nomination on track for a final vote, barring any unforeseen disclosures, that sets up a fight that Republicans could win in the Senate but might ultimately lose at the ballot box in November....
Some conservatives, however, seem happy to have that fight.
Friday’s co-lead Kavanaugh story by Sheryl Gay Stolberg, “Judge’s Accuser Open To Hearing, But Seeks Terms,” eagerly portrayed the GOP as “back on the defensive” and who “risk looking like bullies” if they insist accuser Christine Blasey Ford testify on Monday.