Donald Trump has angered progressives in so many ways recently — including mean tweets to Swedish teenagers, mean letters to the speaker of the House, and mean comments about women in the Squad — that it’s difficult to recall the earliest days of their animus. But a recent incident reminded me of one of the first real postelection tantrums from the left: the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to fill the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the death of Antonin Scalia.
It wasn’t so much that the Democrats disliked Gorsuch. The thing that annoyed his critics was their belief that the seat should have gone to Merrick Garland, the man who had been nominated by President Barack Obama and who had been denied a confirmation vote by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. I actually agreed that Garland should have had a hearing, but that was Potomac water under the bridge.
This week, Gorsuch appeared on Fox & Friends to promote his book A Republic, If You Can Keep it. On the left, some were livid that the justice would appear on a show that is generally considered to be in Trump’s pocket.
Lawyer and commentator Amee Vanderpool tweeted: “Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch just appeared on Fox and Friends this morning, making a point to parrot the ‘Merry Christmas’ talking point of the GOP. If he’s willing to go on Fox and throw a shout out to Republican narratives, what else is he willing to do?”
Rolling Stone columnist Ryan Bort chimed in with “[I]t’s an especially bad look for Gorsuch, who as a member of the most consequential body of decision-makers in American politics probably shouldn’t be appearing on a network concerned primarily with placating the president.”
CNN commentator Brian Stelter, formerly of the New York Times, wrote: “Justice Neil Gorsuch is on ‘Fox & Friends’ right now. The Q: How is it appropriate for a Supreme Court justice to try to goose sales of his three-month-old book by chatting on one of the most partisan shows on TV?”
I don’t understand the outrage, because other Supreme Court justices have appeared in the media without triggering it.
Take for example, The Notorious RBG, the documentary about Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I paid good money to see it in the theater, because I had no idea I’d eventually be able to catch it for free on CNN, the outfit that partially financed the film. I don’t remember people getting upset that a station whose commentators regularly criticize Trump was involved in a hagiographic project about this admittedly exceptional, but left-leaning, Supreme Court justice.
Or the time Justice Sonia Sotomayor went on The View, a show that pretends to be bipartisan by having Meghan McCain as a cohost while the majority of other women around the famous table are loud and proud liberals, who regularly criticize the Trump administration. When Sotomayor went on in November of last year — around the time of Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation — she was there to promote the children’s version of her autobiography, Turning Pages: My Life Story. She was welcomed like a hero, as well she should have been. Like Ginsburg, she has been an exceptional jurist and role model. I didn’t see anyone complain that Sotomayor’s presence on the show, to promote her book, was problematic.
But Neil Gorsuch appears on Fox & Friends and people accuse him of inappropriate behavior. They ignore the fact that Fox has numerous hosts and guests who criticize the president, including Judge Andrew Napolitano, Bret Baier, Geraldo Rivera, and perhaps most consistently, Chris Wallace.