On Fox News Sunday, anchor Trace Gallagher joined Sen. Ben Sasse in giving a pass to Josh Hawley’s QAnon smear of SCOTUS nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson but threw in a gratuitous complaint about the victimhood of alleged wannabe rapist Brett Kavanaugh.
If you missed Hawley’s QAnon dogwhistle, the upshot is that he baselessly accused Judge Jackson of being soft on pedophiles. In an excellent Substack, Professor Don Moynihan wrote, “The point of Hawley’s attack is not to make the charges stick in any substantive way, but to create an association between Brown and this broader trope. And in some immediate sense this worked. Simply by airing the claims, Hawley gave conservative media an excuse to run them.”
Sure enough, Gallagher “just asked” Sasse about Hawley’s smear, using a disingenuous “bothsidesism” that suggested it might be true.
GALLAGHER: Your colleague on the Judiciary Committee, Josh Hawley, said this of her time on the U.S. Sentencing Commission. Quoting here: Judge Jackson has a pattern of letting child porn offenders off the hook for their appalling crimes, both as a judge and as a policymaker.
The White House responded, quoting again: Overwhelming majority of Jackson's cases involving child sex crimes, the sentences Judge Jackson imposed were consistent with or above what the government or U.S. probation recommended.
Where do you stand on this, Senator?
Sasse legitimized the smear, too.
SASSE: Yes. So Supreme Court justices get lifetime tenure and before that happens, there needs to be a vigorous, rigorous vetting of their records, and there are things in Judge Jackson's record that are troubling. I'm glad we're having the confirmation hearings starting tomorrow afternoon. I hope -- tomorrow morning I guess.
I hope Judge Jackson will be very forthcoming and transparent, the American people and the United States Senate in our advice and consent responsibilities need to understand this, and there are things in this record that are troubling.
Then Gallagher laid the ground for the GOP talking point that Republicans will be fair to Judge Jackson, unlike how the Democrats treated Brett Kavanaugh.
Let’s pause to point out how dishonest that is. Kavanaugh was accused of multiple acts of sexual assault and harassment, without a thorough investigation. Judge Jackson, on the other hand, has only been smeared with an inflammatory, baseless smear by a senator who tried to undermine the 2020 election.
GALLAGHER: Yeah. I'm just curious, do you think there's going to be the acrimony we have seen in some of these past nomination processes? Not Brett Kavanaugh, because that was over-the-top, but it seems to me like a lot of Republicans have kind of withheld their opinion in this because it really doesn't change the balance of the court. Still 6-3, she's a liberal.
Your final thoughts?
SASSE: The idiocracy version of Senate confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court have been getting stupider and stupider since the Bork hearings in the 1980s. So the stuff the Democrats tried to do to Brett Kavanaugh and his wife and his kids were just unconscionably wicked. But it's part of a pattern that's been going on for 30 years.
I want us to vet Judge Jackson's judicial philosophy.
SASSE: I don't want us to attack her as a human. I want us to be having a debate about what her judicial philosophy is, because when you go on a court, if you get lifetime tenure, it's because you don't confuse yourself with a super legislator, and we need to know that judicial modesty there is there in that response.
Apparently, Sasse wasn’t partisan enough for Gallagher. His next and closing comment was:
GALLAGHER: And certainly, Judge Kavanaugh did not get due process which he deserved.
Gallagher might be right in one sense: Kavanaugh probably made it to the Supreme Court precisely because he did not have to submit to the due process he should have had to undergone. But he was confirmed by a vote of 50-48, which is the official (due) process.
Gallagher is probably trying out for the permanent anchor gig, now that Chris Wallace has jumped ship. We don’t know if this will help Gallagher’s chances, but the fact that he thinks it might speaks volumes about what the Fox “News” Channel is all about.
You can watch it below, from the March 20, 2022 Fox News Sunday. The relevant portion begins at about 8:40.
In the case of Bork, the exposure of his unfortunate writings and statements was not what doomed him. Nor was his infamous history of having fired the special counsel at Richard Nixon’s demand. What doomed Bork was Bork himself, who openly stated his extremist positions at his hearing, and alienated so many people that Republicans voted against him and he went down to a spectacular, humiliating defeat.
As for Kavanaugh, he has a history as an extreme partisan and idealogue, and much of that had already come back to haunt him when the GOP was ramming him into his SC seat just before the 2018 midterms. He had a history of nasty behavior while working with Ken Starr and in the W/Cheney White House. He had committed perjury during his earlier confirmation hearing for his first court appointment, but proving perjury is far more complex than the Judiciary Committee would handle, and the GOP members were intent on ramming, not listening.
When Kavanaugh’s attack on Christine Blasey-Ford went public and more women appeared with similar stories about Kavanaugh, it was more than appropriate for the Committee to examine it. After all, the Right Wing has spent decades telling us that character counts and touting their good Christian values. (And there are multiple witnesses who have discussed that Georgetown Prep, where Kavanaugh, Mark Judge attended, was known for the unrestrained behavior of the rich students at their various extracurricular parties.) But instead of taking this seriously, angry Right Wingers suddenly tried to attack the female victims and accuse the Dems of somehow being mean to Kavanaugh, completely turning the actual situation upside down. Kavanaugh had a few uncomfortable minutes in the hearing room and erupted in snide remarks at the Senators and a scary, unhinged meltdown where he accused the Clintons of orchestrating his misdeeds.
But at no point was Kavanaugh’s confirmation in doubt. He knew he was going to be rammed through, and he was. The result of the hearings? Kavanaugh got his lifetime brass ring at the nation’s highest court and continues his life of luxury while he and his fellow Far Right SC members work to erase the precedents of the Warren and Burger courts. And Professor Ford? She and her family spent months enduring death threats and harassment and were forced to move twice as she was repeatedly doxxed. Even today, she is harassed by angry Right Wingers, and all for having the temerity to stand up. Which only goes to show why so many victims of harassment and sexual assault are reluctant to come forward.