Largest Media Outlets Screwing Up (Again) — Lack Of Context On Supreme Court & Federal Judges

Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!

First of all, before jumping into the matter of the Supreme Court, the important step on the judicial ladder before the Supreme Court that no one is talking about, and “court packing,” it’s important to remember that every time a media outlet chooses to write or talk about one story, it is ignoring countless others. And there are a lot of big stories being ignored in the United States right now by a mostly misleading focus on the courts.

For example, as summarized by Richard Hine’s tweet on the presidential candidates’ economic plans: “Wharton business school says the Biden plan is better than Trump’s. Goldman Sachs says the Biden plan is better than Trump’s. Moody’s says Biden’s plan will create 7 million more jobs than Trump’s.” How much attention has that gotten on major media networks? None?

Another story being ignored is that Donald Trump is reportedly $420 million in debt. Not $420,000, but $420 million. Years ago, American banks stopped lending Trump money because he was notorious for not paying back loans and driving his businesses into bankruptcy. Most European banks wouldn’t touch him either. One, Deutsche Bank, loaned him money through a special arm of the business, an arm of the business that actually got busted a few years ago for Russian money laundering. The bank even personally connected Donald Trump with rich Russians. Perhaps the best insight we have into the Trump Organization’s financial support, though, comes from an interview* Eric Trump did with a golf magazine journalist who was curious how Trump’s golf properties were getting any financial support during the height of the Great Recession. Eric Trump reportedly told the journalist that they basically had all the financial support they needed from Russia. “Well, we don’t rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia.” Now we’ve got indication that Donald Trump reportedly laundered tens of millions of dollars in 2016 — but major media outlets would rather talk about supposed “court packing.”

This is a big deal. When our president owes $420 million and it’s probably not to Americans, what does that mean? Who does he owe? And what is he doing to keep that quiet and to try to repay his debts?

The ironic (read: sad) thing is: the big Mueller special investigation didn’t touch Trump’s finances. Somehow, they decided it was okay to conduct an investigation into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russians with regard to election interference without exploring finances. (Even then, Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort was found to have sent polling data to a Russian agent, and landed himself in prison for various crimes.) At least some members of that small investigative team think that was a grave mistake, but the investigation was controlled by the Assistant Attorney General at the time, Rod Rosenstein, and he decided that the special investigation should not touch Trump’s finances. Absurd.

But let’s get to court packing, since it is a ridiculous narrative being driven out of either malice or stupidity and now also affects matters of climate, pollution, and the future of humanity.

First of all, Amy Coney Barrett wouldn’t even be up for the Supreme Court if not for Mitch McConnell and the Republican Party’s court packing. As civil rights lawyer Leslie Proll writes, “Just a reminder: Amy Coney Barrett would never have become an appellate judge if GOP Senate had confirmed President Obama’s nominee Myra Selby, a Black woman, to Indiana seat on 7th Circuit in 2016. But GOP blocked Selby, kept seat open & Trump filled it w/Barrett.”

That’s right — Amy Coney Barrett only got into her current position because McConnell persistently blocked Obama’s appointments and then flooded the courts with Donald Trump’s appointments. And no, this is not normal. Here’s chart comparing the end of the Bush presidency and beginning of the Obama presidency with the end of the Obama presidency and beginning of the Trump presidency:

Image courtesy Center for American Progress.

There’s nothing normal about that second chart. The President of the United States has the right to nominate federal judges, and the Senate is supposed to consider them and vote on whether or not to approve them. Once Mitch McConnell got control of the Senate after Obama’s second year as president, he decided to mass block Obama’s nominations for the following 6 years. He would almost never hold hearings for them in the Senate. Then, when Donald Trump took office, he opened up the floodgates. This is not even a secret — McConnell has bragged about it on Fox News.

In the case of the Supreme Court, the whole gigantic narrative of McConnell and Senate Republicans in 2016, after Justice Antonin Scalia died in February — 9 months before the election — was that the Senate should not appoint a new Supreme Court Justice in an election year, and shouldn’t even hold a hearing for Merrick Garland, Obama’s nomination. Now, just weeks before the election, while people are voting, all of those Republicans have completely flipped and think it’s totally fine to put their nominee on the Supreme Court, someone who wouldn’t even be on the US Court of Appeals if not for Republican court packing.

The courts have been packed — packed and packed and packed. The Supreme Court is being packed right now. Yet major media outlets have developed an obsession with asking whether Joe Biden is going to pack the courts if elected. There’s no packing left to do! Even if he goes outside the norms at all, it will be about unpacking the obscenely packed courts that McConnell created by breaking American norms.

Understandably, many of us our irritated by the rank, horrid, disgusting hypocrisy Republicans in Congress are showing, and by the mass media’s ignorant tendency to just push out misleading talking points in the interest of “balance.” Our system of government is broken, and the one great check on government power — independent media — is broken. They could not give the full context if their own lives depended on it! They continuously mislead by parroting political talking points rather than telling the story as it really is.

The media does a lot of great investigative work. I wish I had the resources and access to do more of that here on CleanTechnica. I greatly respect the strong, independent media outlets that do solid work telling full stories. I am a paying subscriber of the Washington Post, for example (and also to CleanTechnica). But there are far too many cases of false balance and extreme lack of context. There is far too much of a tendency to just report what people in power say, instead of identifying the big underlying stories, reporting those out in a clear way, and only filling in with quotes of powerful people when it is useful to tell the true story of what is happening.

*Addendum: The story here is as follows: the co-author of golf legend Arnold Palmer’s autobiography, James Dodson, was visiting a Trump golf course in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2014. He asked Donald Trump about the cost of the courses and Trump said something about having access to $100 million. James tried to clarify with Donald’s son Eric Trump: “So, when I got in the cart with Eric, as we were setting off [to play], I said, ‘Eric, who’s funding? I know no banks — because of the recession, the great recession — have touched a golf course. You know, no one’s funding any kind of golf construction. It’s dead in the water the last four or five years.’

“And this is what he said. He said: ‘Well, we don’t rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia.’ I said: ‘Really?’ And he said: ‘Oh, yeah. We’ve got some guys that really, really love golf, and they’re really invested in our programs. We just go there all the time.’”

Imagine — imagine for one minute — if President Barack Obama had been $420 million in debt to someone. Imagine if Obama had a grown-up son who had said a few years prior that they had all the money they needed from Russia. Imagine how Republicans and Fox News would be responding.

Have a tip for CleanTechnica? Want to advertise? Want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

Latest CleanTechnica TV Video

I don't like paywalls. You don't like paywalls. Who likes paywalls? Here at CleanTechnica, we implemented a limited paywall for a while, but it always felt wrong — and it was always tough to decide what we should put behind there. In theory, your most exclusive and best content goes behind a paywall. But then fewer people read it!! So, we've decided to completely nix paywalls here at CleanTechnica. But...
Like other media companies, we need reader support! If you support us, please chip in a bit monthly to help our team write, edit, and publish 15 cleantech stories a day!
Thank you!

CleanTechnica uses affiliate links. See our policy here.

Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

Zachary Shahan has 7286 posts and counting. See all posts by Zachary Shahan