Megyn Kelly used her interview with Republican Senator Jeff Sessions to help advance Republican messaging over its obstruction of an Obama nominee to replace Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court.
In her interview with Sessions, a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Kelly first went after President Obama.
KELLY: Barack Obama, back when it was Justice Alito, Samuel Alito, being proposed to the U.S. Supreme Court, had a very different view of what he now says, this whole process of confirming nominees. What he said back then, as he filibustered [her emphasis] that nomination – it wasn’t just a no vote, it was a filibuster, trying to decline a vote on this justice – was very different from what we heard today, which was today he said, “Supreme Court nominations are different. …They have to be treated with the respect they deserve.” Your thought.
Of course, Sessions went right to it.
SESSIONS: Well, he’s been totally hypocritical and inconsistent on that. Justice Alito is a fabulous judge, he did a great job at the Judiciary hearing and he [Obama] filibustered and tried to deny him having a vote.
This is not analogous to the current situation. President Obama joined what he knew would be a futile filibuster attempt after the Senate held hearings on Alito because Obama thought Alito’s legal views were inappropriate for a Supreme Court justice. Furthermore, Obama made it clear he thought a better path would have been for Democrats to do a better job in making a case against Alito.
Not surprisingly, Kelly did not challenge Sessions’ characterization. Nor did she challenge his next statement that indicated Republicans would not even allow a hearing.
SESSIONS: We’re just not going to move this nominee because it’s going to allow the next president to fill this seat. We’ve lost a great, conservative, brilliant justice.
Kelly nodded her head as Sessions praised Scalia.
Kelly made a disingenuous stab at non-partisanship by briefly noting Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's hypocrisy and then quickly moving away from it in order to further denigrate Democrats.
KELLY: Mitch McConnell sounded very different on this issue, too. There is hypocrisy on both sides. But when you look at folks like Chuck Schumer, who has completely reversed himself on the appropriateness of confirming Supreme Court nominees in an election year. He didn’t want it to happen within 18 months of the presidential election, never mind 11 months, where we are now.
Actually, that’s not what Schumer said at all. From Talking Points Memo, which reviewed Schumer’s entire speech on the subject:
Schumer quite explicitly never said that the Bush shouldn’t get any more nominations. He also didn’t say that any nominee should be rejected. He said they should insist on proof based on judicial history, rather than just promises that they were mainstream conservatives rather than conservative activists, which both have proven to be. But again, set all this aside. He clearly spoke of holding hearings and being willing to confirm Bush nominees if they met reasonable criteria.
Next, Kelly moved on to attack Democratic Senator Pat Leahy. “Listen to Senator Pat Leahy!” she exclaimed. She played a clip of Leahy first saying, in 2006, “The Thurmond Rule, in memory of Strom Thurmond – he put this in when the Republicans were in the minority, which said that in a presidential election year, after spring, no judges would go through except by the consent of both the Republican and Democratic [leaders]. We will institute the Thurmond Rule.” And now, “Well, there is no such thing as a ‘Thurmond Rule. Well, the fact of the matter is – a Supreme Court justice, let’s have a vote.”
In Kelly's own clip, Leahy was talking about "after spring," which is clearly not where we are now.
But rather than note any of the mitigating factors, “straight news anchor” Kelly giggled derisively at the Democrats. “It’s ridiculous! It’s ridiculous!” she chummily told Sessions.
However, after having established her Republican cred, Kelly asked Sessions to explain why Republicans shouldn’t hold a hearing and vote on a Scalia-replacement nominee.
KELLY: To those who are home saying, “I don’t know, I don’t trust any of these politicians, but when there’s a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court, there’s almost a year before we get the next president, why wouldn’t you Republicans allow the president a hearing and give this person at least an up or down vote?” What say you?
SEN. JEFF SESSIONS: Well, I think it’s the—the president’s had two confirmations to the Supreme Court, two very activist judges, in my opinion, that don’t allow—don’t maintain their fidelity to the words of our Constitution and laws and I don’t think he’s entitled to have a third one at this late date. As a matter of fact, the tradition is not to confirm someone in the last year and as Pat Leahy, when he chaired the committee, has chaired the Judiciary Committee for many years, he just refused time and again to move nominees. They never got a hearing, they never got voted on, many withdrew as time went by and they couldn’t get a hearing. So he’s certainly—so what we’re talking about in this case is so important that the American people should be the one to decide which direction the Supreme Court will go.
Kelly never challenged a word of Sessions’ very serious accusation that Obama’s previous Supreme Court appointments were “very activist judges” who “don’t maintain their fidelity to the words of our Constitution.”
Furthermore, while Kelly was so excited about Democratic hypocrisy on the nomination process, she gave Sessions a complete pass on his own flip-flopping.
From Media Matters:
Kelly failed to note that Sessions himself disputed the idea that nominations should be halted during an election year in 2008. Speaking on the Senate floor in that year, Sessions said [emphasis added]: I would say there has been talk about invoking the so-called Thurmond Rule. The Thurmond Rule could sort of be, if you want it to be, an excuse for slow-walking nominees and not approving the nominees who ought to be approved just because there is a Presidential election on the horizon. Majority Leader Harry Reid mentioned last night that the so called rule would be invoked in June. Senator Leahy has mentioned before he would invoke it in the second half of this year. Let me say this about the Thurmond Rule. It is a myth. It does not exist. There is no reason for stopping the confirmation of judicial nominees in the second half of a year in which there is a Presidential election.
We're not even in the second half of the year yet.
Watch “straight news anchor” Kelly’s bias and baloney, above, from the February 16 The Kelly File.
Crossposted at News Hounds.
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