Moments after President Biden’s left-wing Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson concluded her opening statement during Monday afternoon’s Senate confirmation hearing, the broadcast networks went to work hailing her performance and preemptively declaring her immune from any Republican criticism. The swooning coverage marveled over Jackson and advised the GOP “this is not the hill maybe they want to die on.”
Following gushing from Washington correspondent Yamiche Alcindor and left-wing columnist Eugene Robinson during NBC News special coverage, Nightly News anchor Lester Holt asked justice correspondent Pete Williams: “...this nomination does not change...the center of gravity, ideological gravity in the Supreme Court. Will that change, do you think, how Republicans will go after her? Will they hold back and realize this is not the hill maybe they want to die on?”
Williams agreed with that assessment: “Oh, I suspect a little of that, Lester. The other thing is they’re going to have a hard time coming up with something new.” The reporter referenced her previous confirmation hearings for the federal judiciary and dismissed any issues Republicans might raise: “So she’s been through a lot of these questions before....what isn’t changed is her record. So if they’re going to ask her about the record, she’s been – this is sort of asked answered before.”
“Do you see any hurdles after what you heard today?,” Evening News anchor Norah O’Donnell wondered to chief legal correspondent Jan Crawford during CBS News special coverage. Crawford replied by announcing that there were “no red flags” for Jackson despite the nominee not having been asked a single question yet:
No, not now, and I don’t see any red flags and I see nothing that’s gonna come up based on people I’ve talked to or interviews that I’ve had about her record. I do see three key areas that the Republicans are gonna focus on tomorrow, they started unveiling that today. They’re gonna try to discern her judicial philosophy, to show that unlike the picture that we just saw that they think she will be some kind of judicial extremist. I think that’s going to be pretty hard for them to do.
During ABC News special coverage, World News Tonight anchor David Muir brought on senior national correspondent Terry Moran for analysis. Like his NBC and CBS colleagues, Moran immediately tried to inoculate Jackson from any scrutiny of her record:
I was also struck by that full-hearted voicing of American patriotism at the beginning of her remarks, just as she did when President Biden nominated her. This is a person who knows, firsthand obviously, the greatest crisis in our country’s history, the crisis of racism, has lived through it, and still loves the country openly. I think that obviously is one of the reasons that not only President Biden selected her, but it’s gonna be very difficult for the Republicans really to do a lot of damage to a candidate like this, to a nominee like this....And this moment, where she stepped forward to say, “Here I am, an American, a black woman, and I’m ready for this job.” It was a very strong performance, no question about it.
As far as the leftist media are concerned, there’s no point in even having Senate hearings because they have already decided that it’s not worth listening to any criticism of Jackson.
The live special network coverage did not feature any commercial breaks.
Here is a transcript of the March 21 NBC News Special Report:
3:38 PM ET
LESTER HOLT: Here with me now is NBC News political analyst Eugene Robinson again. Eugene, give me your thoughts about her opening remarks?
EUGENE ROBINSON: Well, you know, today is the day – it’s not back and forth, it was opening statements, and so for me it’s a day to take a sort of wider lens, to see a black woman sitting in that chair in that hearing was emotional for me. I thought about – I thought of my mother, I thought of my mother-in-law. My mother, who was a college librarian. My mother-in-law was a researcher at National Institutes of Health. They’re both successful in life, but I wonder what more they could have achieved if it were not for the dual glass ceiling that they faced because of when they lived.
3:40 PM ET
HOLT: Let me ask Yamiche Alcindor, this sense of history that Eugene talks about, how will that carry through these proceedings? Or will we get right back into what we tend to know how these things work?
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: I think it will carry through. Two hundred and thirty-three years it took to get to this moment, and I was struck by the fact that she talked about her parents naming her “Ketanji.” And in talking to her friends, including Lisa Fairfax who introduced her, I talked to them over the weekend, and they said Ketanji Brown Jackson would make sure people that people could say her name, even when she was a Freshman in college, because she wanted people to understand the sort of significance of the fact that her parents decided to name her this African name.
3:43 PM ET
HOLT: I want to go back to NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams now. Pete, as you and others have noted, this nomination does not change – potentially change the center of gravity, ideological gravity in the Supreme Court. Will that change, do you think, how Republicans will go after her? Will they hold back and realize this is not the hill maybe they want to die on?
PETE WILLIAMS: Oh, I suspect a little of that, Lester. The other thing is they’re going to have a hard time coming up with something new. Remember, she just went through this eight months ago when she was nominated for the court of appeals. So she’s been through a lot of these questions before about decisions she made during her eight years as a judge, a trial judge here in Washington. Now granted, Supreme Court confirmation hearings are always different, but what isn’t changed is her record. So if they’re going to ask her about the record, she’s been – this is sort of asked answered before.
For example, it’s expected they’ll ask her about her time as a public defender, during which she did represent a Guantanamo Bay detainee. I thought it was interesting, Lester, that she made a point of introducing her brother today who served in the Army because when she was asked about this during her court of appeals confirmation hearing, she said, yes, she did represent a Gitmo detainee but the position she had to take as a public defender did not necessarily represent her personal views and she mentioned the fact that her brother was serving in the Army at the time.