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30 Washington Post Articles on Gorsuch’s Nomination–Not a Single One Opposed

Of the 30 items published on Gorsuch since Trump’s announcement, 17 could be construed as neutral and 13 were explicitly positive.  (Image: Esther Vargas/flickr/cc)

A review of The Washington Post’s coverage of Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch over the past two days reveals overwhelmingly positive coverage of the right-wing jurist. The Post, which prides itself on being a molder of Beltway conventional wisdom, has published 30 articles, op-eds, blog posts and editorials in the 48 hours since his nomination was announced live by Trump—and not a single one has been overtly critical or in opposition to Gorsuch.

Of the 30 items published on Gorsuch since Trump’s announcement, 17 could be construed as neutral and 13 (marked with an asterisk) were explicitly positive. None openly opposed Gorsuch or leveled criticisms beyond mild qualifiers:

      1. Trump Picks Colorado Appeals Court Judge Neil Gorsuch for Supreme Court (1/31/17)
      2. Neil Gorsuch, Fortunately (1/31/17)*
      3. Thoughts on the Gorsuch Pick (1/31/17)
      4. Key Decisions From Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch (1/31/17)
      5. Judge Gorsuch’s Dissent in the Case of a 13-Year-Old Arrested for Making Fake Burps in Class (2/1/16)
      6. Judge Neil Gorsuch on Libel law, the Media and the Aryan Brotherhood (2/2/17)
      7. No, Obstruction of Neil Gorsuch Is Not About Merrick Garland (2/1/17)*
      8. The Supreme Court Under Roberts Is Tilting to the Left. Would Neil Gorsuch Change That? (2/1/17)
      9. Why the Battle Over Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee Could Center on One Word (2/1/17)
      10. The Gorsuch Nomination Offers a Wonderful Example of the Hollowness of Partisan Rhetoric (2/1/17)
      11. Trump’s Nomination of Neil Gorsuch Is a Promise Kept to Conservative Media (1/31/17)
      12. A Fractured US Senate Awaits Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch (1/31/17)
      13. Yes, the GOP Broke Supreme Court Nominations. But Blocking Gorsuch Won’t Fix Them. (2/2/17)*
      14. Ignore the Attacks on Neil Gorsuch. He’s an Intellectual Giant—and a Good Man (2/1/17)*
      15. Hugh Hewitt and Ronald Klain: How Will Neil Gorsuch Change the Supreme Court? (2/1/17)
      16. The One Big Reason Republicans REALLY Love Neil Gorsuch (2/1/17)*
      17. Democratic Leaders—and Trump—Aren’t Making It Easy to Build Bipartisan Support for Gorsuch (2/1/17)
      18. Gorsuch Deserves a Hearing. These Are the Questions He Should Answer (2/1/17—editorial)*
      19. What Neil Gorsuch’s Old College Newspaper Columns Say About Him (2/1/17)
      20. Democrats Are in Real Danger of Overplaying Their Hand Right Now (2/1/17)*
      21. In Gorsuch, Trump Gave Democrats a Gift. They Should Take It (2/1/17)*
      22. Neil Gorsuch Belongs to a Notably Liberal Church — and Would Be the First Protestant on the Court in Years (2/1/17)
      23. Democratic Senators on Neil Gorsuch: A Translation Guide (2/1/17)
      24. Gorsuch’s Chance to Correct Scalia on the Constitution (2/1/17)*
      25. Neil Gorsuch on Criminal Defendants and the Rule of Law (2/1/17)*
      26. Gorsuch’s Judicial Philosophy Is Like Scalia’s—With One Big Difference (2/1/17)*
      27. Gorsuch’s Nomination Does Not Make Up for Trump’s Train Wreck (2/1/17)
      28. Democrats Should Use the Coming Court Fight to Spotlight Trump’s Authoritarianism. Here’s How (2/1/17)
      29. Senate Democrats’ Misleading Language on a 60-Vote ‘Standard’ for Supreme Court Nominees (2/2/17)*
      30. Liberal UC Berkeley Law Professor Dan Farber on Neil Gorsuch (2/2/17)*

One post that was, at first glance, advocating against Gorsuch’s confirmation, “We Cannot Possibly Confirm Judge Gorsuch Before the Election” (2/1/17), was, in fact, a lampoon of GOP hypocrisy by Alexandra Petri in the Post’s satire section, “ComPost.” (Get it: ComPost?)

Another writer who used the Gorsuch episode to advance a separate—albeit useful—point was Greg Sargent  (2/1/17), who suggested Democrats should “use the coming court fight to spotlight Trump’s authoritarianism.” The piece wasn’t so much about Gorsuch as much as it was about how his hearings were a chance to explore how the courts can provide a check on “Trump’s excesses.”

Gorsuch’s “originalist” brand, of course, dovetails nicely with the Washington Post’s pro-corporate editorial ethos, to say nothing of its multi-billionaire owner, Jeff Bezos.

The bulk of the Post’s reporting has been focused on a combination of legal weeds and straight reporting that usually presupposed that Gorsuch’s nomination was inevitable. “In the end, Republicans will get Gorsuch on the bench,” asserted reporter Amber Phillips without qualification. Trump and Democrats “aren’t making it easy to build bipartisan support,” insisted another article—the assumption being that confirmation was the default objective. To the extent coverage was neutral, it almost always ran with the premise that Gorsuch was ultimately going to be confirmed, and the controversy was over how and at what political cost.

Due to his standard-issue Ivy League credentials and bland personal appeal—the good ol’ boys club criteria—the legal consensus is cementing around Neil Gorsuch as a no-brainer selection. The Washington Post’s coverage—populated with insiders using this same criteria, political reporters echoing that conventional wisdom and high-profile op-eds by fawning conservatives—largely doesn’t ask the broader moral questions.

Aside from a few quotes from Senate Democrats, the reader isn’t really confronted with substantive concerns, like how Gorsuch’s confirmation will affect vulnerable communities, help out large corporations, or undermine women’s and LGBTQ rights. These are merely a sideshow to the major attraction: the uncritical coronation of Trump’s right-wing Supreme Court selection.

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Adam Johnson

Adam Johnson

Adam Johnson is a New York-based  journalist, a contributing analyst for, and co-host of the Citations Needed podcast. Follow him on Twitter at @adamjohnsonnyc

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