Day: September 20, 2020

Background Briefing: September 20, 2020


Trump and McConnell Move With Unseemly Haste to Fill RBG’s Just-vacated Seat

We begin with the loss of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg whose most fervent last wish was that she will not be replaced until a new president is installed, yet the Republicans led by Trump and McConnell, are proceeding with unseemly haste to fill her just-vacated seat weeks before the election. Already Trump has promised to name a woman this week in his third pick to fill the court with candidates provided by the Federalist Society pipeline chosen by Leonard Leo who is an ultra-conservative Catholic with ties to Opus Dei and is awash with dark money and has already helped place Kavanaugh, Gorsuch, Alito, Thomas and Roberts on the Supreme Court. Joining us is Jim Manley, a DC-based independent public affairs consultant, Democratic strategist and 21 year veteran of the U.S. Senate where he served as senior advisor to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for the last six of those years and, before that, served 12 years as an aide to the late Senator Ted Kennedy. We discuss what strategies Democratic senators might employ to stop the thuggish determination of Trump and McConnell to stack the court with a right wing super-majority for decades to come in cynical disregard of McConnell’s excuses given to prevent Obama’s nominee from getting seated and Senator Lindsey Graham’s public vow that the Republicans would not do the same again “if there’s a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term. Let’s let the next president whoever it might be, make that nomination.” With senate Democrats warning they will get rid of the filibuster and put more judges on the Supreme Court if the Republican Senate tries to seat a replacement before or after the election, we assess the chances of peeling off a few decent Republicans to prevent the 50 votes needed to seat another Leonard Leo pick on the court.


Opus Dei’s Leonard Leo Gets his Sixth Pick to Stack the Supreme Court

Then we speak with Caroline Fredrickson, a Professor of Law at Georgetown and a Senior Fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice who is the president emerita of the American Constitution Society and author of The AOC Way: The Secrets of Alexandria Ocasio Cortez’s Success. She joins us to discuss the likelihood that Trump will nominate the 48 year-old outspoken conservative Catholic mother of seven, Amy Coney Barrett, a federal appeals judge in Chicago who will move quickly to overturn Roe v Wade.


Has the Press Learned Anything After Billions in Free Advertising to Elect Trump in 2016?

Then finally we investigate the role of the press in these last 44 days before the election to see whether, after giving Trump at least $2 billion’s worst of free advertising in 2016 to get him elected, the press can stop serving the ends of a publicity-seeking Reality TV president who is either on TV or watching TV, and for better and mostly for worse, dominates the narrative and distracts the media with unchecked lies and government by stunt. James Fallows, an award-winning author and national correspondent for The Atlantic and author of many books on media and politics, whose latest with his wife Deborah Fallows is Our Towns: A 100,000 Mile Journey Into the Heart of America, soon to be a HBO movie, joins us to discuss his latest article at The Atlantic, “The Media Learned Nothing From 2016: The press hasn’t broken its most destructive habits when it comes to covering Donald Trump.