In an act similar to that of a whining child, Senate Democrats attempted to block the President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch Thursday. Republicans, in turn, followed through on their promise to execute the so-called “nuclear option” to bring debate to a close and move the nomination forward. In response, ABC and NBC were up in arms that evening. “The Republican leader today emerged from the partisan battlefield with a thumbs up. The top Democrat, his head hung low in defeat,” bemoaned ABC’s Mary Bruce on World News Tonight.
“With Democrats blocking the President's nominee Neil Gorsuch, Republicans making a controversial play,” she complained. For Bruce to describe Republican actions in that way is highly hypocritical for the network. Back in 2013 when Senate Democrats nuked the filibuster for lower-court judges and cabinet appointments, ABC’s Dan Harris touted it as a “bold move” by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
She then lied to the viewers when explaining what Republicans did. “Changing the Senate rules to confirm Supreme Court nominees from now on with a simple majority vote, lowering the threshold from 60 votes to just 51,” she falsely claimed. In reality, they only changed the threshold needed to end debate. If nominees needed 60 voted to be conferenced, Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito would not be on the bench since they received 52 and 58 yea votes respectively.
Bruce parroted Democratic Party talking points, claiming that “Democrats say they didn’t start this war. Many are still fuming after Republicans refused to even consider President Obama's nominee to fill this seat, Merrick Garland.” But again, back in reality, it’s commonly understood that the politicization of Supreme Court confirmations was started by Democrats with President Ronald Reagan’s nominee Robert Bork. She also failed to mention the Democratic Party’s own use of the nuclear option.
On NBC Nightly News, Justice Correspondent Pete Williams seemed to sympathize with the Democratic hissy fit, reporting that “Democrats were still fuming that President Obama's nominee Merrick Garland never got a hearing.” He then chastised Senate Republicans claiming “The so-called nuclear option was invoked on a strict party line vote with Republicans acting more out of a sense of partisan duty than principle.” He had no snarky rebuke for the filibuster even though that fell along party lines as well.
“Many legal experts say from now on when the White House and Senate are controlled by the same party, presidents will be less likely to appoint moderates,” he continued. And just like with ABC, this is a hypocritical statement for NBC since in 2013 they described the Democratic filibuster nuking as “the 52 to 48 vote is a win for Democrats.”
CBS didn’t give the event much coverage. Anchor Scott Pelley simply asked for the opinion of Face the Nation moderator, John Dickerson who knocked both parties:
Privately, what Senators say to me is they feel locked in a partisan system. No one on either side wants to go against their voters or interest groups who treat these moments like purity tests. The Senate was designed to be distanced from all that, to give-- to promote compromise. But it has been growing steadily more partisan over the years, and so this was really the period to the end a sentence. The United States senate is not what it once was.
It was similar to the position they held in 2013.
The contrast between ABC’s and NBC’s description of events then versus now is stark. It’s basically a tale of two nuking’s, one by Democrats and one by Republicans. They sides with the Democrats in each instance.
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World News Tonight
April 6, 2017
6:43:46 PM Eastern
MARY BRUCE: The Republican leader today emerged from the partisan battlefield with a thumps up. The top Democrat, his head hung low in defeat. Left behind, the casualties, a Senate and a Supreme Court fundamentally altered.
UNIDENTIFIED: The yeas are 48 and the nays are 52.
BRUCE: With Democrats blocking the President's nominee Neil Gorsuch, Republicans making a controversial play, changing the Senate rules to confirm supreme court nominees from now on with a simple majority vote, lowering the threshold from 60 votes to just 51. A move so drastic it's known as the "Nuclear option." For two days, Democrats put up a fight on the floor, one Senator talking for 15 hours straight.
UNIDENTIFIED 2: This is an extreme nominee from the far right.
BRUCE: This morning, they had the votes to block Gorsuch, but Republicans were prepared to go nuclear.
UNIDENTIFIED: Certainly, I think this step is worth it.
BRUCE: Many others were hesitant, warning the move could have lasting consequences on the court.
LINDSEY GRAHAM: It's a bad day for the senate. Means you will get more ideological judges, but we are where we are.
BRUCE: But given those reservations, why do it?
GRAHAM: We're not going to have a system where Republicans can't get judges and Democrats can.
BRUCE: But Democrats say they didn’t start this war. Many are still fuming, after Republicans refused to even consider President Obama's nominee to fill this seat, Merrick Garland.
CHUCK SCHUMER: It doesn't have to be this way.
NBC Nightly News
April 6, 2017
7:11:18 PM Eastern
PETE WILLIAMS: As the Senate prepared for the historic showdown, emotions were raw over President Trump's nominee Neal Gorsuch.
MITCH MCCONNELL: The opposition to this particular nominee is more about the man that nominated him and the party he represents than the nominee himself.
WILLIAMS: Democrats were still fuming that President Obama's nominee Merrick Garland never got a hearing.
DICK DURBIN: They kept that position vacant so it could be filled by a Republican president. That's exactly why we are here today.
WILLIAMS: Then after Republicans failed to muster the 60 votes needed to end the filibuster on Gorsuch, they moved to change the rules and eliminate filibusters for Supreme Court nominees.
MCCONNELL: I raise the point of order.
WILLIAMS: The so-called nuclear option was invoked on a strict party line vote with Republicans acting more out of a sense of partisan duty than principle.
JOHN MCCAIN: I think it's a bad, very sad day for the Senate because we have now destroyed 200 years of tradition of requiring 60 votes.
WILLIAMS: Many legal experts say from now on when the White House and Senate are controlled by the same party, presidents will be less likely to appoint moderates.
SUSAN LOW BLOCH: The confirmation processes will become much more partisan and presidents will now be able to nominate people who are more extreme. They won't have cater to the other party.
[Cuts back to live]
WILLIAMS: It's a safe bet that Neal Gorsuch will be confirmed tomorrow in time to take his seat and hear the final 13 cases of the term. Pete Williams, NBC news at the Supreme Court.