As then-Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley’s chief counsel for nominations last Congress (2017-19), I witnessed Senate Democrats and a compliant media work overtime to smear and even attempt to destroy Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Fortunately, they failed in their effort to stop his confirmation -- but the grossly unfair damage to his reputation will follow him throughout his entire career. Senate Democrats and the media helped Christine Blasey Ford put an asterisk next to Kavanaugh’s name for when he ruled on abortion cases, which Ford’s attorney Debra Katz later admitted was Ford’s goal all along.
Justice Kavanaugh is not the only one who the Democrats damaged through their backdoor collaboration with the media. Ironically, it was the media’s credibility that took the biggest hit, with stories based on false accusations of gang-rape. Michael Avenatti, a lawyer over whom the press drooled for a year until he found himself convicted of trying to extort Nike out of millions of dollars, was the most notorious of accusers. Senator Sheldon “Tin Foil Hat” Whitehouse, who somehow managed to extract himself from his conspiracy theory bat cave to peddle nonsense to the press, peddled his anonymous constituent’s accusation -- which he immediately recanted when confronted -- that Kavanaugh gang-raped a woman on a Newport, Rhode Island yacht. Unfortunately, the media breathlessly reported both stories without any corroboration or any other real basis in fact.
Though baseless stories of gang rape have yet to materialize, much to the dismay of Senator Mazie “America’s Dumbest Senator Ever” Hirono, the media continues to perform poorly during the course of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing. In fact, the media has spent more time focusing on Judge Barrett’s school-age children than they have Hunter Biden’s Ukrainian and Chinese potential bribery schemes.
The headlines range from Bloomberg’s legally absurd “Amy Coney Barrett Should Recuse Herself on Abortion Cases” to Trump Derangement Syndrome posing as news, such as The New Yorker’s gem “Amy Coney Barrett’s Silence Is an Expression of Extremism” and The Washington Post’s completely asinine “Two Students and a Teacher at School Attended by Barrett Children Test Positive for Coronavirus.” And I would be remiss if I did not mention the parade of “Handmaid’s Tale” stories from the likes of The Washington Post, LA Times, MSNBC, and Vox.
Unsurprisingly, the most egregious example of the media’s performance comes from the social-media account formerly known as “The Grey Lady” – The New York Times. That outlet recently draped itself in glory by deciding that Judge Barrett’s minor children should be vetted in a feature story and that her adoption of two children from Haiti could not be “separat[ed] from the politics of the moment.” The New York Times even went so far as to give credence to the “everybody-is-racist” movement led by Professor Ibram Kendi, who suggested that the adoption was motivated by white supremacy. Compare this with the scant amount of print space given to Hunter Biden’s actual crimes, and it’s no wonder Americans have lost faith in the New York Times.
With the Senate Judiciary Committee vote scheduled for this Thursday, Senate Democrat operatives and their outside allies will pressure the media to publish all manner of trash about Judge Amy Coney Barrett. They will operate off-the-record but push their media friends on stories attacking her faith, family, judicial decisions, and any other fantastical tales dreamed up by people hellbent on achieving power by destroying our republic and anyone who stands in their way.
Meanwhile, the same media outlets writing stories about Judge Barrett’s faith, family, and candy-eating habits will spend their time on Twitter claiming that it is only Republicans focusing on these attacks, despite the fact that these stories were fed to them by Democrats. This, of course, works perfectly for Senate Democrats as they, their staff, and their outside allies can push dirt behind the scenes and claim ignorance while they use the material to try and derail her confirmation.
The remedy here is simple: If the media is going to write derogatory stories about Judge Barrett that are sold off-the-record by a Democrat office holder, a staffer, or an outside ally like “Demand Justice,” the media should demand that they go on the record or not report the story. This is the only way that we can avoid a week of gang-rape allegations, alien-abduction stories, and dystopian religious nonsense based on a show 75 percent of Americans have never watched.
This is our challenge to the media: do not let yourselves get used by angry Democrats to smear an exceptional judge, law professor, and mother.
Mike Davis is the founder and president of the Article III Project (A3P), an advocacy organization that fights for President Trump's judicial nominees. Last Congress (2017-19), Davis served as the chief counsel for nominations to then-Chairman Chuck Grassley on the Senate Judiciary Committee, where he served as staff leader for the confirmation of Justice Kavanaugh and a record number of federal circuit judges. Davis previously clerked for Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, both on the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.