Former Vice President Joe Biden refused to say during last night’s debate whether he would pack the Supreme Court with additional Justices if elected — a radical move which legal scholars on both sides of the aisle have warned would be catastrophic for the Court’s perceived legitimacy. Yet liberal news networks barely discussed Biden’s refusal to answer the question, and in fact the majority of them have not devoted even a second of airtime to the story.
The MRC examined all major liberal broadcast (ABC, CBS, and NBC) and cable (CNN and MSNBC) networks’ post-debate analysis from 10:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday night through 9:00 a.m. ET Wednesday morning.
On both ABC and NBC, not a single journalist mentioned that Biden would not say whether he supported packing the Supreme Court. CBS political analyst John Dickerson was the sole broadcast journalist to mention the story, which he did for a mere 26 seconds on Tuesday night, and an additional 9 seconds on Wednesday morning. MSNBC also failed to bring up the topic. Meanwhile, CNN’s coverage amounted to a meager 85 seconds on debate night, and just 14 more seconds the following morning.
That coverage on CNN primarily consisted of analysts dismissing the issue. On Tuesday night, CNN White House correspondent Abby Phillip insisted that Biden was just posturing, and that only fringe Democrats would actually consider packing the court:
This is sort of like the Medicare-for-all of the general election, which is that there’s an idea being talked about on the left of their party, and they want to stay in the middle.
I also think we should be very clear here: the idea of packing the courts is not some widely-held Democratic idea. There are people talking about it, many of them on the internet, but when you really look at how Democrats feel about this issue, this is not something that a majority of Democrats want.
Despite Phillip’s confidence, many prominent Democrats have in fact insinuated that they would support the idea, while others have outright endorsed it. When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was asked whether she might consider packing the Court to retaliate against Senate Republicans, she remarked that Democrats were willing to use “every arrow in our quiver,” and that no option was off the table.
Former Democratic primary contenders like Mayor Pete Buttigieg (whom CNN and other liberal networks routinely referred to as a “moderate”) openly stated that he would add Justices to the Court if elected.
Biden’s failure to come out against court-packing on national television undercuts the idea that he’d stand up to left-wing radicals in his party. His allies in the media appear to be aware of this fact, as evidenced by their refusal to talk about it.