MSNBC Eagerly Joins Smear Campaign Against Trump Judicial Nominee

During her 10:00 a.m. ET hour show on Wednesday, MSNBC anchor Hallie Jackson, seized on a coordinated left-wing campaign to tar one of President Trump’s judicial nominees as a racist who spent his career defending “voter suppression” of minorities. To bolster that argument, she turned to former NAACP president Cornell Brooks and PBS NewsHour White House Correspondent Yamiche Alcindor.

“[Thomas] Farr is nominated to be a federal district judge in the Eastern District of North Carolina....Here’s the thing, the longtime Carolina lawyer has come under fire for his work defending North Carolina’s controversial voter ID law,” Jackson declared at the top of the segment, just hours before Farr was confirmed by the Senate that afternoon.

 

 

She parroted liberal talking points: “Democrats and civil rights groups argue Farr worked for decades to disenfranchise black voters. And all of that may be putting his nomination in danger.”

The anchor explained that Farr was first nominated to the federal bench by President Bush in 2006, blocked by Democrats, and that the seat has remained open for 12 years. Turning to Brooks, Jackson noted that the American Bar Association gave Farr a “well qualified” rating shortly after he was re-nominated by President Trump in July. She urged the liberal activist to explain his opposition.

Brooks blasted the conservative attorney:

I oppose him, along with millions of Americans and a large coalition of civil rights organizations, because he is, in a way, because of his record, uniquely unqualified and unfit to serve in the federal judiciary. Namely he has been serially nominated, serially opposed because of a professional lifetime suppressing the vote.

Rather than challenge any of those assertions, Jackson instead eagerly asked how much “pressure” was being placed one particular Republican lawmaker to vote down the nomination:

What is the lobbying effort now? Because it seems like it’s all coming down, potentially, to Republican Senator Tim Scott. He has not said, at least of 25 seconds ago when I checked my email, which way he’s going to vote on this. So what are you and other groups doing to put pressure on Senator Scott, if anything?

Brooks demanded: “...he must oppose a nominee who has a long, well-documented record of voter suppression....a nominee who has a current, up-to-date record of voter suppression.”

Jackson briefly noted North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis calling out the “left-wing smear campaign” against Farr, before she asked Alcindor: “You’ve been talking to folks about this, what are you hearing?” In part, the PBS reporter passed along nasty claims from anonymous “sources” about Farr:

I will add that some of the sources I’ve been talking to have also been claiming that Thomas Farr has ties to a white supremacy group called the Pioneer Fund. They say that one of his mentors was the director of that organization and he has given him awards as part of his being a mentor. Now, again, that’s a claim that they’re making and the Congressional Black Caucus is repeating some of those claims.

Despite the last-ditch effort by MSNBC to aid Democrats in their crusade to block Farr’s nomination, the “well qualified” nominee was confirmed by the Senate.

Here is a full transcript of the November 28 segment:

10:39 AM ET

HALLIE JACKSON: In less than two hours from now, we may see some fireworks on the Senate floor. Three senators, Republican Jeff Flake and Democrats Chris Coons and Cory Booker, are gonna try and force a vote on a bill to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

SEN. CHRIS COONS [D-DE]: He and I will be on the floor of the Senate later today once again asking for a live unanimous consent. We could take up and pass this bill in a few minutes this afternoon and I’m confident it would get 60 votes.

JACKSON: Okay, here’s the thing and here’s why this is all so important, because Jeff Flake is demanding a vote on this Mueller protection bill or else, he says, he will not vote for this guy, Thomas Farr. Farr is nominated to be a federal district judge in the Eastern District of North Carolina. This is a judicial seat that’s been open since 2006. That is the longest vacancy in the federal judiciary.

Here’s the thing, the longtime Carolina lawyer has come under fire for his work defending North Carolina’s controversial voter ID law. A law that was struck down by federal judges for discriminating against African-Americans. Democrats and civil rights groups argue Farr worked for decades to disenfranchise black voters. And all of that may be putting his nomination in danger.

Joining me now is Cornell Brooks, former president of the NAACP. Yamiche [Alcindor] and Jeff [Mason] are back with us as well. So, Cornell, thank you for coming on live for us from Boston.

CORNELL BROOKS: It’s good to be here.

JACKSON: Mr. Farr was rated “well qualified” in July, after his nomination. He’s been nominated four times by two different presidents for this judgeship. So explain why you oppose this.

BROOKS: I oppose him, along with millions of Americans and a large coalition of civil rights organizations, because he is, in a way, because of his record, uniquely unqualified and unfit to serve in the federal judiciary. Namely he has been serially nominated, serially opposed because of a professional lifetime suppressing the vote. He defended an effort to dismantle, I should say, he defended the omnibus oppressive voter suppression bill or rather law in North Carolina that the U.S. Court of Appeals said “targeted black voters with surgical precision.”

He also defended congressional and state legislative redistricting in which the Supreme Court found that 28 of those legislative districts on target or suppressed, racially gerrymandered if you will, black voters.     

Third, going back to the days of Senator Jesse Helms, an arch-segregationist, Tom Farr defended Senator Helms’ effort to intimidate black voters. So we have a –  

JACKSON: Although, Farr did say was not in those meetings where those decisions were made. But let me ask this, Cornell, so you are clearly very opposed to him and we’ve seen protests even during his hearings early on when he was first picked for this.

BROOKS: Indeed.

JACKSON: What is the lobbying effort now? Because it seems like it’s all coming down, potentially, to Republican Senator Tim Scott. He has not said, at least of 25 seconds ago when I checked my email, which way he’s going to vote on this. So what are you and other groups doing to put pressure on Senator Scott, if anything?

BROOKS: I think that Senator Scott has already opposed a judicial nominee because of racially insensitive and discriminatory writings back in college. So if he opposed one nominee based upon a written record of being racially insensitive, he must oppose a nominee who has a long, well-documented record of voter suppression. You cannot oppose one nominee based upon writings from years ago and support a nominee who has a current, up-to-date record of voter suppression. It’s simply not consistent.

And particularly as Senator Scott represents a state of South Carolina, which is within the U.S. Court of appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which includes North Carolina. And so, I think many of us are pressing him to simply be consistent.

JACKSON: Yeah. Let me ask you, Yamiche, because you’ve been reporting on this. Senator Thom Tillis is somebody who has very much spoken out in favor of Thomas Farr and says he’s the victim, essentially, of a left-wing smear campaign. You’ve been talking to folks about this, what are you hearing?

YAMICHE ALCINDOR [PBS NEWSHOUR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT]: Well, what I’ve been hearing is it really is going to come down to votes. And what Cornell Brooks is talking about is this idea of consistency, and if you voted for one person and voted against that person for these same issues, you should vote against this judicial nominee. Except that Marco Rubio was doing just that. Yesterday he announced that he was going to be voting for Thomas Farr and he did not vote for the other judicial nominee that had the same set of issues. So you already have one senator who looked at the last judicial nominee and said, “I can’t do that, but I can do it here.”

I will add that some of the sources I’ve been talking to have also been claiming that Thomas Farr has ties to a white supremacy group called the Pioneer Fund. They say that one of his mentors was the director of that organization and he has given him awards as part of his being a mentor. Now, again, that’s a claim that they’re making and the Congressional Black Caucus is repeating some of those claims.

The issue, though, is going to come down to votes. It’s the Senate, the Republicans have the majority. So if Tim Scott votes with the Republicans, which is what he consistently does, then Thomas Farr is gonna be – have a lifetime seat on the federal circuit.

JACKSON: Yamiche, thank you. Cornell Brooks, thank you for joining us to talk through all of this, we appreciate it.

BROOKS: Thank you.

JACKSON: We’ll keep an eye on that story.  


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