NBC, CBS Predict ‘Ugly’ Hearing for Gorsuch as Dems Label Him ‘Extreme’

Just hours before the Senate confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch was set to begin, NBC’s Today and CBS This Morning eagerly parroted Democratic talking points against President Trump’s judicial pick and promised an “intense grilling” for the federal judge as the “ugly” process got underway.

On Today, correspondent Kristen Welker announced: “Judge Neil Gorsuch is bracing for what will undoubtedly be an intense grilling by Democrats here on Capitol Hill.” She noted that Gorsuch was “preparing vigorously” for the hearing, then ominously asked: “But will it be enough?”

Welker wondered: “How will Gorsuch respond to tough questions by Democrats, including those about President Trump’s own words?” “Democratic lawmakers are expected to take aim at Gorsuch for not publicly distancing himself from President Trump's attacks on the judiciary,” the reporter explained.

Later in the report, she touted liberal anger at missing out on the chance to shift the high court to the left:

Finally, just how ugly will the confirmation fight get? Democrats are still fuming after Republicans refused to give a hearing to former President Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland. Democrats could try to block Gorsuch with a so-called filibuster if they disagree with his position on issues like Roe v. Wade.

A soundbite followed of Democratic Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal vowing to use “use every tool that we have” to block Gorsuch.

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Only briefly did Welker mention “the political reality” that “Republicans have the majority and could change the rules to override that move.”

On CBS This Morning, correspondent Jan Crawford only offered a brief report on the upcoming Gorsuch hearing, noting that “over the next four days, Senators are going to be putting Judge Gorsuch to the test.” She observed: “Now, there's no question that he's qualified. The question is whether Democrats will say he's too extreme and move to block his nomination.”

Like Welker, Crawford promoted left-wing outrage:

Democrats and liberal groups argue that this is not his seat to have and they are, you know, still very angry that Republicans blocked President Obama's nominee for the seat, Judge Merrick Garland. So Democrats are going to want to know where Gorsuch stands on a wide range of social issues. And they say if he is shown to be out of the mainstream, they will use every tool available to oppose him.

She wrapped up the segment by pointing out that Republicans may have to “invoke the so-called ‘nuclear option’ and end the filibuster” to get Gorsuch through.

By comparison to the hype on the NBC and CBS morning shows, on ABC’s Good Morning America, correspondent Terry Moran offered a much more sober analysis of the hearing:

...it will be high intensity and hard fought, but in some ways the most shocking thing about the Gorsuch nomination is how normal it's going to be. This is probably the smoothest operation the Trump presidency has launched, his nomination. He's an establishment  conservative, he has come through Harvard and Oxford and the Bush Administration and while Democrats are going to press him very hard on flash point issues like President Trump's attacks on the judiciary and on the immigration ban, what will really happen in there I think is a very typical Supreme Court hearing.

A newly-released Media Research Center study looked back at the fawning coverage that all three broadcast networks lavished on Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominees.


    
Here are transcripts of the March 20 coverage on Today and This Morning:

Today
7:11 AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: And we move to those other big events we talked about, happening in Washington this week. Confirmation hearings begin this morning for President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. And House Speaker Paul Ryan expects a vote Thursday on the Republicans' health care reform bill. NBC’s Kristen Welker on the Hill this morning. Kristen, good morning.

KRISTEN WELKER: Savannah, good morning to you. Judge Neil Gorsuch is bracing for what will undoubtedly be an intense grilling by Democrats here on Capitol Hill. A source close to Gorsuch tells me he’s been preparing vigorously, meeting with 72 senators and undergoing days of so-called “murder boards,” those are like mock trial sessions, conducted by lawyers from the White House and the Justice Department. But will it be enough?

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Supreme Court Confirmation Hearing; Gorsuch Heads to Hill to Face Tough Questioning]  

This morning, 49-year-old Judge Neil Gorsuch is gearing up for what could be a fierce confirmation fight. Three things to watch, first, his opening statement, which he’ll deliver in just hours. A source familiar with Gorsuch's thinking tells NBC News, Gorsuch will likely say, “A judge's role is limited and bound by precedent.” A view on display when President Trump announced Gorsuch in January.

NEIL GORSUCH [JANUARY 31]: In our legal order, it is for Congress, and not the courts, to write new laws.

WELKER: Second, how will Gorsuch respond to tough questions by Democrats, including those about President Trump’s own words? Democratic lawmakers are expected to take aim at Gorsuch for not publicly distancing himself from President Trump's attacks on the judiciary.

DONALD TRUMP [MARCH 15]: This ruling makes us look weak.

WELKER: But now, Gorsuch will likely be pushed to go on the record, though he has criticized Mr. Trump's comments in private, according to one Democratic senator.

Finally, just how ugly will the confirmation fight get? Democrats are still fuming after Republicans refused to give a hearing to former President Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland. Democrats could try to block Gorsuch with a so-called filibuster if they disagree with his position on issues like Roe v. Wade.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL [D-CT]: Not only filibuster, but use every tool that we have.

WELKER: But the political reality, Republicans have the majority and could change the rules to override that move.

SEN. TED CRUZ [R-TX]: I think it's 50/50, whether the Democrats filibuster. They don’t have any good arguments against Gorsuch.

(...)


CBS This Morning
7:12 AM ET

GAYLE KING: Senate confirmation hearings begin this morning for President Trump's Supreme Court nominee, that’s Neil Gorsuch, will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The 49-year-old is currently a Denver-based federal appeals court judge. He is nominated to fill the seat vacated more than a year ago when Justice Antonin Scalia died. Jan Crawford is inside the Senate hearing room, where the high-stakes showdown will take place. Jan, good morning.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Supreme Questions; Gorsuch Faces Senators in Battle for Justice Post]

JAN CRAWFORD: Well, good morning. So over the next four days, Senators are going to be putting Judge Gorsuch to the test. He's going to be giving his opening statement here later today, but only after hearing from every member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Now, there's no question that he's qualified. The question is whether Democrats will say he's too extreme and move to block his nomination. His confirmation won't change the balance of the court, he would be replacing a conservative. But Democrats and liberal groups argue that this is not his seat to have and they are, you know, still very angry that Republicans blocked President Obama's nominee for the seat, Judge Merrick Garland. So Democrats are going to want to know where Gorsuch stands on a wide range of social issues. And they say if he is shown to be out of the mainstream, they will use every tool available to oppose him.

Now, to get confirmed, Gorsuch is going to need 60 votes, which means at least eight Democrats are going have to vote for him. If that doesn't happen, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will try to persuade Republicans to invoke the so-called “nuclear option” and end the filibuster, which means Gorsuch could be confirmed with a simple majority. Alex?

ALEX WAGNER: Jan, thanks.

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