On Wednesday’s New Day on CNN, the show was fixated on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell commenting last night that he would work to fill a hypothetical U.S. Supreme Court vacancy if one occurred in 2020, as hosts John Berman and Alisyn Camerota brought up the issue repeatedly across all three hours of the show.
Additionally, no conservative commentators were included in the panel discussions even while several liberal contributors including Joe Lockhart, John Avlon, and Catherine Rampell were allowed to give their commentary against McConnell.
After beginning the 6:00 a.m. Eastern hour with the latest on the turbulent weather in the Midwest, co-host John Berman melodramatically brought up the McConnell news: “Overnight, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made clear he will be bound by nothing, including his own precedent, when deciding whether to confirm a Supreme Court nominee during an election year.”
Then came a clip of Senator McConnell being asked by an audience member what he would do if there were a Supreme Court vacancy in 2020, followed by him smiling and straightforwardly responding, “I will fill it.”
The CNN host sounded like he was channeling liberal resentment as he responded: “This will be news to Merrick Garland and a far cry from what McConnell said in 2016 when then-President Obama nominated Garland during an election year.”
After noting that a McConnell spokesperson argued that things would be different because Senate and White House are both held by the same party, Berman added: “Plenty of Democrats are slamming McConnell as a hypocrite, including much of the 2020 Democratic field.”
After showing clips of Democratic presidential candidates Kamala Harris and Steve Bullock being critical of McConnell, Berman griped:
BERMAN: Look, it was a sham when McConnell claimed there was an historical precedent to not confirm someone in 2016. He said there’s a long tradition — there was no tradition of it. The issue is, is that Mitch McConnell is going to do what he can. The strong do as they will — the weak suffer as they must.
Camerota then commented: “He’s boldly saying that, so how can people not see it as hypocrisy when they’re changing their own equation mid stream?”
Berman jumped back in to fret: “There’s every reason to expect that if, for some reason, a Democrat does take the White House and Republicans maintained control of the Senate, if a Democrat nominates a justice, there’s no reason to think McConnell will confirm that justice in year one of an administration.”
Camerota agreed: “Absolutely, great point, absolutely.”
During a panel discussion at about 6:30 a.m., Lockhart — who worked for President Bill Clinton’s White House — complained:
LOCKHART: McConnell has become symbolic of the sort of amoral politician that we have in our country right now that will say anything at any point in order to pursue their own goals because hypocrisy no longer has a heavy price. Mitch McConnell could not care less what we’re saying about him this morning. We could call him every name in the book, and it wouldn’t bother him because he has power. And only when that power is taken away, when he becomes minority leader, will that get his attention.
Avlon soon chimed in:
AVLON: Hypocrisy is no longer the unforgiveable sin in politics because Donald Trump does it all the time, and it doesn’t matter. And there’s an assumption that the base won’t care and everyone else will forget, so take what you can while you can. And that’s how democracy starts to die.
There was so much fixation on the issue that they even dug up video of Senator Lindsey Graham last year proclaiming that, as Judiciary Committee chair, he would not push a Supreme Court nominee during the primary process. Later, Berman appealed to the South Carolina Republican for help:
BERMAN: I think Lindsey Graham now needs to say whether or not he still feels that way because, as the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, he can stop it if he doesn’t want this nomination to go to the floor, he can keep it from happening. So Graham’s got the power to — he’s got the power to keep his word if he wants to keep his word.
Camerota got out her phone and responded: “All right, we’re going to call Lindsey Graham as soon as we get to commercial break.”
When New York Democratic Congressman Hakeem Jeffries appeared as a guest in the 8:00 a.m. hour, Berman even asked him to comment on the matter.