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The Sunday morning talk shows sprinted into “gaffe” patrol mode after President Joe Biden made a 9-word, ad-libbed comment in Poland over the weekend about how Vladimir Putin should not be allowed to stay in power in Russia.
On “Meet the Press,” USA Today’s Susan Page emphasized Biden’s comment was “distracting” and “undisciplined.” The assembled pundits spent nearly ten minutes discussion the story, along with a new NBC poll that was bad news for Biden. (Inflation!)
What was mostly ignored by the round table was the blockbuster story about Virginia (Ginni) Thomas, wife of right-wing Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. She had been texting unhinged QAnon-like messages to Trump’s chief of staff after the 2020 election, strategizing and urging that Biden’s victory be overturned, saving America from “the end of Liberty.” The NBC pundits on Sunday spent 45 seconds discussing that story.
Like when Trump was recently caught smuggling boxes of top-secret documents out of the White House, the Beltway press is treating Ginni Thomas’ seditious assault on democracy as a middling story; one that will likely receive little or no new coverage in coming days.
The revelation that Thomas’ plugged-in wife who enjoyed easy access to the Trump White House hoped that “Biden crime family & ballot fraud co-conspirators … will be living in barges off GITMO to face military tribunals for sedition,” came just after Republican Senators used QAnon signaling during the Supreme Court confirmation hearing of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. She was smeared as a child pornography apologist.
“Meet the Press” was hardly alone in sleepwalking past the Ginni Thomas story, which represents another GOP direct assault on democracy and election integrity. “ABC This Week”s’ round table spent ten minutes dissecting Biden’s Putin “gaffe,” and just three minutes acknowledging the Supreme Court’s stunning setback in terms of its reputation for fairness. (The Court’s already at its lowest standing ever.)
Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal has yet to run a single page-one piece on the Thomas story and how she accused the “Left” of “attempting the greatest Heist of our History,” and complained about being “disgusted” with Vice President Mike Pence for approving the 2020 election results.
CNN announced Biden’s overseas Putin comment had set off “shock waves.” But I can find no CNN coverage that suggest the same thing occurred when we learned about Ginni Thomas’ relentless, high-level push to overturn the election (a “fight of good versus evil”) while Judge Thomas was the only justice who voted against allowing the release of records from the Trump White House related to the Jan. 6 attack. Thomas’ lone, radical dissent on another 2020 election case openly promoted Trump lies about mail-in ballots. Lies that sound a lot like Ginni’s.
Cable news in general has been slow walking the story. Look at how much TV attention the Thomas controversy received compared to how many hours this month were showered on the issue of rising gas prices in the U.S.
During the week of March 6-12, “gas” was mentioned 1,170 times on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC, according to TVeyes. By comparison, three days after the Clarence Thomas story broke, he was mentioned just over 100 times on cable news. Contrast: Fox mentioned “gas” 580 times in that one week, “Clarence Thomas” just 14 times in the three days.
The press refuses to treat sledgehammer attacks on U.S. democracy as an all-hands-on-deck news story. Appearing on MSNBC when the story of Trump stealing top-secret documents broke, the Washington Post’s Ashley Parker stressed the brazen theft might not raise to the level of being “nefarious” because Trump wasn’t a “traditional” president and because his aides were in a “frenzied” state during the month of January 2021.
Elite journalists are not comfortable depicting Trump’s GOP as a party at war with democracy. That’s too extreme of a narrative for the Beltway media, which prefers to cover the GOP as a mainstream outlet.
This country has been facing a looming and open threat for more than a year now, ever since September 2020, when Trump announced he would not abide by the election results if he lost. "Trump Won't Commit to Peaceful Transfer of Power" should have been the headline that ran on the front page of every newspaper in America. It didn’t run on any — the New York Times played that story on page 15. None of the network newscasts reported on Trump's stunning defiance in real time. (The Times today has done a better job with the Thomas story, in terms of giving it deserved attention.)
News organizations still see themselves primarily as witnesses in the anti-democracy drama, paid to document the beating it’s taking at the hands of radical Republicans who try to dismantle the concept of free and fair elections in America.
“The Thomases are a team. When I was a Heritage intern as a young conservative, Ginni brought in Clarence to visit with the interns. The idea that there’s some wall of separation btw their respective, uh, professional activities is willful naivety,” tweeted Matthew Sitman. He’s a co-host of the “Know Your Enemy” podcast, which spotlights the conservative movement. “One of the most important tasks of our time is to see extremely obvious things and not pretend they’re anything other than they are because our brains’ have been poisoned by the idea that telling the truth and holding corrupt, lawless actors accountable is “partisan.”
The press isn’t all that interested in telling the obvious truth about Ginni and Clarence Thomas.
(Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Nothing like finding your conscience after cashing Rupert Murdoch’s paychecks for two decades.
From the New York Times’ “Chris Wallace Says Life at Fox News Became ‘Unsustainable’”:
A down-the-middle outlier at Fox News who often confounded conservatives by contradicting the network’s right-wing stars, Mr. Wallace was also one of the channel’s fiercest defenders, disappointing liberals who hoped he might denounce colleagues like Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson.
But in December, Mr. Wallace, 74, issued a final verdict: He was done. In a surprise move, he declined to renew his contract as host of “Fox News Sunday” and jumped to archrival CNN. His daily interview show — “Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace?” — starts Tuesday on the new CNN+ streaming service.
FUN STUFF — BECAUSE WE ALL NEED A BREAK
Colin Hay, “When Does the End Begin?”
He’ll be forever known as the former lead singer of Men at Work, that quirky 80’s Aussie rock band. But Hay has established himself over the decades as a prized singer-songwriter, with deft touch for detail and melody. The melancholy “When Does the End Begin” comes from his new, excellent album, Now and Evermore.
There's a falling emptiness that I can't fill
I can't make it all better with my wicked will
It's a mystery what's lying up around the bend
But we've come this far, we have to see the end
🎙 Click here to listen to the music that’s been featured on PRESS RUN, via Apple Music.